NOAA move to Oregon from South Lake Union on hold

By:  Staff Writer
Source: Puget Sound Business Journal

The U.S. Government Accountability Office has put on hold a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) decision to move a marine operations center — and its 175 jobs — from Seattle’s Lake Union to Newport, Ore., beginning in 2011.

The GAO upheld a protest by the Port of Bellingham, which wants the operation to move to Bellingham. Port officials pointed out in the protest that the Newport site is located in a flood plain area, which violated NOAA’s official Solicitation for Offers (SFO). The solicitation said that sites under consideration for the new marine operations center could not be located in a flood plain.

Washington state officials, who want to keep the NOAA operation in the Puget Sound area, were pleased with the GAO decision.

“NOAA should keep its Marine Operations Center in Puget Sound. The proximity of employees and oceans research centers makes Puget Sound the logical choice,” said U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., in a statement. Cantwell is chair of the Senate Subcommittee on Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries, and Coast Guard and has principal oversight over NOAA. Cantwell said the Newport award should immediately be revoked.

At its Lake Union facility, NOAA provides management of 10 vessels and serves as the home port for NOAA ships including the Rainier, Miller Freeman and McArthur II.