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Newport Prepares For NOAA Despite Floodplain Complications
Newport
OPB ImageNewport, Oregon still plans to break ground next month on a facility that will host NOAA's Pacific research fleet.

That's despite a recent ruling that the federal agency failed to fully explore alternatives to Newport's site.

Here's the problem:  It's in a floodplain.  But Newport wonders whether that's a problem at all. Reporter Chris Lehman went to see for himself.

Newport is a bustling port town on the central Oregon coast.  But this section of the port is quiet.

General manager Don Mann looks out over a handful of crumbling buildings and chunks of concrete. But he sees the new Pacific fleet headquarters for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

...The Port of Bellingham, Washington, protested that Newport's bid was ineligible since the proposed pier would be in a floodplain. A 30-year old executive order requires further study of alternatives in such cases.

This month, the Government Accountability Office upheld that protest.  The ruling doesn't overturn NOAA's decision to move its fleet to Newport, but it does create uncertainty.

...NOAA's not saying much at the moment.  A spokesman said it would be premature to comment.

The agency has until early February to respond to the GAO report...

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