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The U.S. Coast Guard will escort the first ship coming to the EGT grain terminal at the Port of Longview this month, and the Occupy movement and local labor groups say they are planning to greet the vessel with a massive protest.
EGT officials say they have not scheduled a date for the ship's arrival. The freighter is expected to haul thousands of tons of grain to Asia, but opposition groups are already marshaling their forces to support the lengthy protest by union dock workers at the grain terminal.
"We just want to swell the population of the city to show there are people behind us," said Jeff Washburn, president of the Cowlitz Wahkiakum Central Labor Council, which passed a resolution calling for a protest this week.
He added that the labor council plans no attempt to stop the ship, a sentiment echoed in a similar call for protest by leaders of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union.
However, the Occupy movement it taking a more aggressive stance, calling for members nationwide to gather outside Port of Longview gates and thwart efforts to load the ship, said Paul Nipper, an organizer for Occupy Longview. The group shut down the ports coastwide, including Longview, Dec. 8.
The Coast Guard will deploy one or two vessels to escort the grain ship up the Columbia River, with more on call if necessary, said Lt. Lucas Elder, a spokesman for Coast Guard's Portland-based marine safety unit. Other law-enforcement agencies will also be present, he said.
Small boat captains who refuse to get out of the way of the ship could face hefty civil penalties, Elder said.
"The Coast Guard is definitely going to be involved in making sure the port is safe."