Contract pending to clean channel

The Newport Beach City Council will vote next week to approve a work contract to clean toxic deposits from the Rhine Channel in Lower Newport Bay.

If approved, the project will dredge four to eight feet deep into the channel, Harbor Resources Manager Chris Miller said.

The Rhine Channel will be the first in a series of cleanup efforts. The city hopes to remove contaminated sediment from the rest of Lower Newport Bay in the next three years, Miller said.

The estimated cost to the city for the cleanup of the Rhine Channel is $4 million. The rest of lower Newport Bay may cost up to $20 million, although the costs are expected to be covered by federal funding, Miller said.

The project will remove decades' worth of sediment contaminated by lead, mercury, copper and other toxins, City Manager David Kiff said.

"Once we dredge and remove the sediments, we won't have to do it again for another 80 years," Kiff said.

Preventing future buildup will rely on measures to improve street sweeping, storm drain cleaning and moving people away from the use of copper-based paints, which accounts for the bulk of the toxins, Kiff said.

Newport Harbor has fewer toxins compared to many other areas on the California coast, the worst of which is San Diego, Kiff said.

This is due largely to the fact that Newport Harbor does not have as extensive a history in boatbuilding as San Diego does, he explained.

The city is negotiating with the Port of Long Beach to have the toxins shipped to the Middle Harbor disposal facility, Kiff said.

Newport Harbor has fewer toxins than other California coastal areas

Contimants include lead, mercury, copper

Bulk is from copper-based paint

Rhine Channel is first effort in a series planned for the next three years, city says

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