The daily Astorian. (Astoria, Or.) 1961-current, December 20, 2017, Image 1

Below is the OCR text representation for this newspapers page. It is also available as plain text as well as XML.

    DailyAstorian.com // WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 20, 2017
145TH YEAR, NO. 123
DOCUMENTING
THE PROBLEM
Beach cleanup documentary filmed on Oregon’s shores
I
See DOCUMENTARY, Page 4A
Distraction
probed in
fatal train
derailment
Emergency brake
went off automatically
By MICHAEL BALSAMO
and HAVEN DALEY
Associated Press
By BRENNA VISSER
The Daily Astorian
n his work at Ocean Blue Project,
Richard Arterbury said he has found
that more people know what to
expect at a Christmas tree lighting than
a beach cleanup.
Arterbury and his team at the envi-
ronmental nonprofit that focuses on river
restoration and ocean health are look-
ing to close that knowledge gap. They
are filming a documentary on the Ore-
gon Coast about beach cleanups and the
consequences that come with increasing
plastic marine debris.
Starting in April, Ocean Blue Project
will host and document about 50 beach
cleanups on the West Coast. A large por-
tion will be filmed on Oregon beaches,
including Fort Stevens State Park, Sea-
side and Tolovana State Park. The film,
tentatively titled “Do it for the beaches,”
is expected to be released in about a
year.
“We wanted to document what we
were already doing,” said Arterbury,
president of Ocean Blue Project. “When
we’re on the beach doing cleanups, peo-
ple ask, ‘What are you doing?’ and when
we show them what we are picking up
they are shocked and surprised.”
Throughout the tour, the 5-year-old
nonprofit is aiming to remove more than
50,000 pounds of plastics and micro-
plastics. Microplastics are extremely
small pieces of debris broken down
from larger waste in the ocean, coming
in a variety of colors and often mistaken
for sea glass.
Earlier this year, more than 240
pounds was filtered from the sand in
front of Haystack Rock. The National
Oceanic and Atmospheric Administra-
tion estimates 100 million tons of this
debris fills the ocean, impacting thou-
sands of marine animals who ingest it.
There has been a good amount of local
attention drawn to this issue over the last
ONE DOLLAR
Colin Murphey/The Daily Astorian
Plastic debris lies in the sand near Cannon Beach as visitors to the area build
a campfire in the background.
Colin Murphey/The Daily Astorian
Plastic materials, such as this deflated ball, can pose a hazard to wildlife in
the area.
Ocean Blue Project
Volunteers with the Ocean Blue
Project help remove plastic and other
trash from Manzanita Beach in April.
DUPONT, Wash. — Federal investi-
gators in the deadly Amtrak wreck want to
know whether the engineer was distracted by
a second person in his cab as his train hur-
tled into a curve at more than twice the speed
limit.
Three people were killed Monday when
the train barreled into a 30 mph zone at 80
mph and plunged off an overpass, sending
rail cars plummeting onto a busy interstate
highway south of Tacoma.
A conductor in training was in the
locomotive with the engineer at the time,
investigators said. A federal official who
was not authorized to discuss the matter pub-
licly and spoke on condition of anonymity
said authorities want to know whether the
engineer lost “situational awareness” —
didn’t realize where he was — because of
that.
On Tuesday, National Transportation
Safety Board member Bella Dinh-Zarr said
preliminary information indicated the train’s
emergency brake went off automatically
and was not manually activated by the engi-
neer. That could mean he did not realize the
danger.
The engineer, whose name was not
released, was bleeding from the head after
the derailment and his eyes were swollen
shut, according to radio transmissions from a
crew member. The transmissions mentioned
a second person in the front of the train who
was also hurt.
In some previous wrecks, train operators
were found to have been seriously fatigued
or distracted by a cellphone or something
else.
Investigators in Monday’s accident also
confirmed that technology that can automati-
cally slow or stop a speeding train, known as
positive train control, was not in use on that
stretch of track. Track sensors and other PTC
components have been installed, but the sys-
tem is not expected to be completed until the
spring.
Regulators have been pressing railroads
for years to install such technology, and
some have done so, but the deadline has been
extended repeatedly at the industry’s request
and is now set for the end of 2018.
Dinh-Zarr said it is too early in the inves-
tigation to say whether positive train control
would have prevented Monday’s tragedy but
noted that a mandate to install the system on
tracks nationwide by 2015 had been pushed
back by Congress.
U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal said
on Capitol Hill on Tuesday that failing to
enforce the new deadline would be a “moral
failure.”
“If we do nothing else in this Congress,
let us insist that that deadline without addi-
tional delay,” the Connecticut Democrat
said.
Investigators will talk to the engineer
and other crew members and review the
data recorders from the lead locomotive
and the rear engine. They are also trying to
extract data from inward- and outward-fac-
ing on-board cameras that were damaged in
the crash, Dinh-Zarr said.
The train, with 85 passengers and crew
members, was making the inaugural run
See TRAIN WRECK, Page 4A
Port Commission writes off debt for Astoria Ferry
Nonprofit
restoring the
Tourist No. 2
By EDWARD STRATTON
The Daily Astorian
A divided Port of Astoria
Commission voted 3-2 Tues-
day to cover $3,000 in back-
due moorage and utilities for
the Astoria Ferry Group at
North Tongue Point.
The nonprofit is trying to
restore the Tourist No. 2, a
former Columbia River ferry,
before purchasing the vessel
from owner Christian Lint.
The ferry docked at North
Tongue Point in August 2016
after a journey from Bremer-
ton, Washington, around the
Olympic Peninsula and down
the coast to Astoria.
Until this month, when the
Port ended its tenure at North
Tongue Point, the ferry group
was a tenant and had paid
more than $12,000 in rent and
utilities. But the lack of pub-
lic exposure and difficulty in
access has severely restricted
the ability to raise money,
the group said in a recent let-
ter requesting a grant from the
Port to write off the remaining
debt.
“With much help, we are
again making progress,” the
group’s letter said. “We very
much want to square our bal-
ance with the Port of Astoria.
Your grant of $3,000 would put
us within striking distance.”
Tom Brownson, an Asto-
ria city councilor, mariner and
member of the Astoria Ferry
Group, represented the non-
profit, asking the Port to play a
small part in helping the group
restore a piece of regional mar-
itime history. Commissioners
Dirk Rohne and Bill Hunsinger
and President Frank Spence
supported the Port writing off
the debt.
Commissioners
James
Campbell and Robert Ste-
vens took issue with giving
See PORT, Page 4A
Colin Murphey/The Daily Astorian
The Port of Astoria Commission voted to write off $3,000
in moorage and utilities the Astoria Ferry Group owed on
the Tourist No. 2 at North Tongue Point.