Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR) is leading Oregon's congressional delegation in opposition to a plan by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to remove weather monitoring Buoy 46089. The buoy, which sits 85 nautical miles west of Tillamook, Oregon, provides critical early warning data for oncoming storms. NOAA cited cost concerns in a December 2012 announcement of plans to remove the buoy upon its failure. Bonamici and other Oregon lawmakers support repairing the buoy instead.
"The data collected at this buoy helps to accurately predict when storms will hit the dangerous Columbia River Bar and, in turn, helps maintain the safety of mariners and protect industries along the Oregon Coast and on the Columbia-Snake River System," Bonamici said. "Without the data collected by Buoy 46089, uncertainty in the coastal community could have significant negative impacts on the coastal economy and jobs in our region."
The letter notes that ship delays cost between $10,000 and $70,000 a day, train delays up to $11,000 each day, and added congestion to rail lines and export terminals could amount to an additional $20,000 per day per terminal. If a vessel runs aground as it crosses the Bar, there is also the potential for environmental harm, which could dramatically impact coastal economies like fishing, recreation, and shellfish aquaculture. The cost to repair the buoy is estimated to be between $40,000 and $60,000.
Buoy 46089 was deployed in 2004 as part of the Coastal Storms Initiative (later re-named the Coastal Storms Program), and it remains operational today. NDBC will continue to collect and disseminate data from this buoy for as long as the buoy remains operational.