PORTLAND, Oregon – A critical lock at the Bonneville Dam on the Columbia River has been shut down, bringing barge traffic to a halt at the peak time for shipping wheat to market. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers reports that cracks in the lock’s downstream gate were preventing the lock from filling properly.
The lock was drained, the damage was surveyed, and repairs are beginning soon, according to USACE reports. First the cracked concrete must be removed before crews can fix the problem.
The shut down of the dam places a strangle-hold on wheat exports to Asia, as well as transport of other goods, like wood products. United Grain Chief Executive Officer August Bassanini has told The Columbian that there’s enough wheat in the silos to fill exports until around Sept. 20, but the company will have to switch to more expensive shipping methods if the lock remains closed.
The USACE has not issued a timeline for completion of the repair work.