Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Long Beach Moves Forward With New Box Terminal Proposal

Port of Long Beach officials last week released the draft environmental documents for a proposed 160-acre $650 million container terminal which, if built, would create thousands of area jobs and showcase some of the industry's latest pollution reduction technologies.

If developed, it would be the first completely new terminal constructed at the port since the 2005 adoption of the port's Green Port Policy, which sets pollution criteria and reduction goals for port activity.

The port's plan calls for a Pier S terminal to feature ship-to-shore power – allowing vessels to plug into landside electricity while at berth – on-dock rail lines that would help to minimize area truck trips, and what the port describes as "the cleanest cargo-handling equipment" to handle containers on at the facility.

An additional benefit of the development would be navigational improvements in the Cerritos Channel located on the north face of the project site.

"A Pier S development would support tens of thousands of new jobs in the region and supply Southern California’s business and consumer needs," port executive director Richard Steinke said in a statement. "A Pier S terminal would help to modernize the Port of Long Beach as we seek to sharpen our competitive edge in the goods movement industry."

On Friday, the port released a draft environmental impact statement (DEIS) and supplemental environmental impact report (SEIR) analyzing the impacts of the proposed development, and the mitigation measures that would be used to address those impacts. The port has released the DEIS/SEIR for a public review period, which continues through November 15, 2011, following which the port will incorporate public comments and responses to the comments into a final environmental impact report.

The draft environmental document includes several development alternatives for Pier S, including a full container terminal option as well as an option for a multi-use storage facility for cargo containers.

Construction of a container terminal would include development of a wharf, berths and terminal infrastructure at Pier S to support container shipping operations. The project would include a rail yard to facilitate on-dock rail.

In addition, the port plan calls for the port to provide $12 million for the Port Mitigation Grants Programs, designed to reduce the overall effects of the port on the local community.

Located on the port's Pier S, the proposed terminal location has been in development limbo for more than 10 years. The port, which purchased the former railroad property in 1994, utilized massive amounts of landfill from the Alameda Corridor construction in the early 2000s to bring the majority of the parcel well above sea level. Pier S was the epicenter of the port's subsidence problems in the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s, with areas of the parcel dropping almost 30 feet due to oil being pumped from underneath the port. A water injection project, still in operation today, halted the subsidence in the 1960s and stabilized the ground level.

In the early 2000s, the port laid an initial decking on most of the Pier S parcel. However, following successful legal challenges by environmental groups over a terminal development at the neighboring Los Angeles port in 2003, both ports entered a nearly seven-year long self-imposed moratorium on major terminal development. This left the Pier S property to sit vacant, mainly used as a temporary storage space and as a movie/TV location shoot.

Ocean carrier Evergreen, which operates a terminal at the Los Angeles port, was initially linked to a possible Pier S terminal in the early 2000s. Long Beach port officials have recently indicated that Evergreen may still be a potential customer for a Pier S terminal, albeit most likely as a second Southern California terminal to compliment their existing Los Angeles facility.