Thursday, October 8, 2009

Oakland Port Opts for Tougher Truck Ban

The Port of Oakland's five-member Board of Port Commissioners voted unanimously on Tuesday to tighten exemptions on a pot-wide ban on older-model year trucks that goes into effect on Jan. 1, 2010.

The ban, an effort to address port-generated diesel truck emissions, was approved in June by the Board. When implemented the ban will require 1994-2003 model year trucks to be retrofit with diesel soot filters to gain access to the port.

The commissioners, selecting the stricter of two options before them Tuesday, voted to only provide one-day exemptions to the ban for non-filtered trucks that are hauling beef, peaches and/or perishable goods. Oversized trucks with special loads would also be allowed to obtain an exemption under certain circumstances.

A less stringent rule rejected by the commissioners would have allowed non-filtered trucks to enter the port up to ten times during 2010.

The ban is part of statewide push to cut diesel emissions by various port authorities. Last September, the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles implemented a similar ban as part of their Clean Truck Program on all pre-1988 trucks, which will expand to include all pre-1994 trucks on Jan. 1, 2010. The LA/LB ban will cover all pre-2007 trucks by the start of 2012.

The Oakland commissioners are expected vote on a final version of the exemption rule by the end of October.

Tacoma Port Pulls Plug on New NYK Terminal

After spending more than $190 million on developing a new 168-acre container terminal for Tokyo-based NYK Line, officials at the Port of Tacoma and the shipping line have officially terminated the project.

Port commissioners voted last week to officially scrap the 2007 deal and sign a new deal with NYK that will see the Japanese line use an existing Tacoma facility. In scrapping the old deal, port officials cited a drop in port revenue due to the downturn in the global economy and projections that the final NYK project could cost $400 million more than the original $800 million estimate.

The new deal calls for NYK to begin using the port's existing APM Terminal by July 2012. Maersk previously called at the terminal until the shipping line vacated the facility in May to head to the Port of Seattle.

The 2007 deal called for the port to develop the east side of the Blair Waterway into a new terminal for NYK, after relocating tenant Totem Ocean Trailer Express and constructing road and rail infrastructure.

The port has already spent $35 million in design costs for the Blair Waterway NYK terminal, relocation of Totem to another site and infrastructure development. In addition, the port spent $146 million to acquire property and demolish vacant buildings, $6 million on site remediation and permitting, and $3 million in staff costs.

In the wake of the decision to cancel the original NYK project, Tacoma port commissioners are expected to meet with port executive director Tim Farrell in closed session Thursday to discuss his future with the port.

Canadian Firm Looks at Second LB Terminal

British Columbia-based Polaris Minerals Corporation announced Wednesday that it has secured an option to secure an existing privately-held 8.3-acre marine aggregate terminal located within the Port of Long Beach.

The facility, located on one of the port's deepwater channels, is currently permitted to receive and distribute up to 3 million tons of construction aggregates per year.

The option extends to June 30, 2010, during which Polaris will carry out due diligence reviews of the property. Polaris plans to use Panamax vessels to deliver sand and gravel to the Long Beach site from Polaris's Orca Quarry situated on Vancouver Island, British Columbia.

In 2008, a subsidiary of Polaris purchased a 12.4 acre site within the Port of Long Beach for just more than $15 million to use for importing sand and gravel, and will move forward with the purchase. The site, to be operated by the Polaris joint venture company Cemera Long Beach LLC, is currently undergoing permitting review.

Polaris also exports aggregate material from its Orca Quarry to San Francisco, Vancouver and Hawaii.

The two Long Beach sites sit within the Port of Long Beach boundaries but are not controlled by the municipally governed port authority. The sites are two of only a handful of privately-owned plots within the jurisdiction of the City of Long Beach's Harbor Department. Like all commercial ports in California, the Long Beach port is owned by the state and operated by the city under trust.

Protective Order Against Seattle Port Commissioner Withdrawn

Port of Seattle Commissioner John Creighton has reached an out-of-court settlement with an ex-girlfriend who accused him of stalking her and had received a protective order against him from the King County Superior Court.

Creighton's attorney verified to the Seattle Times that a settlement had been reached that called for ex-girlfriend Susan Robinet to withdraw a Sept. 10 petition filed with the Superior Court alleging the commissioner had sent nearly 90 unwanted text messages to her within one week and threatened uninvited personal contact.

In the petition, Robinet said she felt like Creighton was "stalking" her and that she "feared" for her safety.

Robinet withdrew the petition on Sept. 24. She told the Seattle Times that she did so after receiving a $5,000 payment from Creighton and a written agreement that he would have no further contact with her.

The newspaper confirmed that Robinet had deposited a $5,000 check on Sept. 24, the day she asked the court to withdraw the petition.

Creighton's attorney, while acknowledging the settlement, would not comment on the $5,000 payment or a "memorandum of understanding" that outlines the terms of the settlement.

Seattle Times staff reviewed the text messages allegedly sent by Creighton and said that they were accurately described in Robinet's original petition. The newspaper also viewed the so-called MOU, but noted that it was only signed by Robinet.

Four LA Port Tenants Named in EPA Pollution Complaints

The United States Environmental Protection Agency has filed complaints against four Port of Los Angeles tenants alleging violations of the Clean Water Act.

The administrative complaints– which allege the firms failed to develop adequate storm water pollution plans, failed to develop on-site monitoring plans, failed to use best management practices to prevent storm water runoff pollution and discharged pollutants via storm water runoff without required federal permits– seek penalties of up to $177,000.

The four firms are San Pedro Forklift, Marine Technical Services, Eagle Marine Services, Ltd., and American Marine Corporation.

"Marine industries are responsible for managing their operations to protect the harbor and beaches from industrial runoff," said Alexis Strauss, Water Division director for the EPA's Pacific Southwest region. "EPA will continue to ensure that facilities hold the proper permits and implement required water pollution control measures."