Debris clean-up explained by Port

10-19-23



A map shows the location where a Port of Corpus Christi contractor began removing underwater debris off Harbor Island late last year. Source: Port of Corpus Christi

A map shows the location where a Port of Corpus Christi contractor began removing underwater debris off Harbor Island late last year. Source: Port of Corpus Christi

A $15.2 million project began in late 2023 to clear away hazards to marine navigation off Harbor Island.

Port of Corpus Christi staff held a “community conversation” in Port Aransas to explain the project just before it started. Some in the audience raised concerns that the project might release toxins into the water from disturbed sediment, but port staff said they didn’t expect any big environmental problems to crop up.

The Port of Corpus Christi has hired T&T Salvage LLC of Galveston to conduct the project. Materials to be removed included steel piles up to 30 inches in diameter, timber pilings, catwalks, pipes, chains and other items.

Harrison McNeil, the port’s supervisor for environmental permitting, said that the port consulted about the project with a variety of government agencies including the National Marine Fisheries Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Department. By coordinating with those agencies, he said, the port was able to come up with some “best management practices” that would produce “minimal environmental impact,” he said.

Kent Britton

Kent Britton

Audience members brought up the fact that the port had been seeking permits to build a shipping terminal on a part of Harbor Island that’s directly adjacent to the site where the debris is to be removed.

Some in Port Aransas have opposed the port’s moves toward establishing a shipping terminal there, saying that it would present possible hazards to the area’s delicate ecosystem, plus other problems.

Port officials said the intent is to remove hazards to navigation. That was echoed by Kent Britton, the port’s CEO, but he said it’s also true that the debris would have to be removed before a terminal could be established on the island.

Britton said the port still was seeking a permit to establish the port. But he also said there was, at the time, no market for a crude oil shipping terminal on Harbor Island. Port officials said they had “no customer” for a shipping terminal on Harbor Island and no timeline for possibly establishing one there.

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