Friday, March 25, 2011

Long Beach Council Wants Zero-Emission System for Railyard Project

The Long Beach City Council on Tuesday approved the drafting of a resolution calling for the inclusion of zero-emission goods movement system options in the environmental impact report being prepared for a $300 million modernization project at a major Southern California intermodal railyard.

While targeted at reducing an ever-dwindling amount of air pollution from drayage trucks that shuttle cargo to the 223-acre Intermodal Container Transfer Facility (ICTF), the resolution could also have sizable impacts on the costs of the project and thousands of drivers in the drayage workforce.

The joint powers authority (JPA) that manages the ICTF has been working on the modernization project since 2007 and is expected to present the draft EIR for public review and comment sometime later this year.

The JPA was created by the two ports in 1983 and is funded by the two ports that also share control of the four-member JPA governing board.

Located about five miles north of the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles, the ICTF is operated by Class I railroad Union Pacific under a sublease from the JPA and serves as the major intermodal railyard for the two ports.

If completed as envisioned by the JPA, the three- to four-year $300 million modernization project will double the throughput of the ICTF to more than 1.5 million TEUs per year by reconfiguring the yard, adding additional tracks, constructing a new gate, and improving the existing gate facility. The project will actually shrink the footprint of the ICTF to 177 acres and substantially increase the buffer area between the facility and the neighboring community. The JPA/Union Pacific have pledged to reduce air emissions and noise/light pollution through various proposals including the use of low- and zero-emissions yard equipment within the facility. The project will be paid for by the two ports, which will recoup the construction costs through the lease to UP.

The non-binding Long Beach City Council resolution, if approved, will call for the EIR authors to include options including magnetic levitation trains and/or electric trucks to short haul containers from Long Beach and Los Angeles container terminals to the ICTF.

"I think it is important that we develop that science and present all of the options to the [JPA] governing board," said 7th District Councilmember James Johnson, who proposed the motion. "This is about moving the ICTF without polluting our communities."

While the proposal for the resolution gives no specific examples of the zero-emission goods movement systems the Council wants included in the EIR, during Council discussions on the motion, technology such as electric shuttle trains, a magnetic-levitation train system, and electric trucks were mentioned.

The inclusion of any such system in the final program, however, would likely have serious impacts on both the costs of the project and/or the current drayage workforce.

Current estimates for magnetic-levitation systems run a minimum of $100 million per mile and one projection cited a cost of $575 million to build a system from the ports to the ICTF.

A 2008 study conducted by California State University, San Bernardino found that electrification of the port railways would run $40 million per mile, raising the possibility of adding $200 million to the cost of the ICTF project.

Both rail systems would also supplant the roughly 9,000 trucks, and the associated drivers, currently serving in the two ports drayage fleets. This would be in addition to the roughly 7,000 drivers that were forced out of the port-servicing drayage fleets due to the implementation of the two ports' Clean Trucks Programs which launched in 2008.

Electric trucks, still in their early development phases, are expected to cost substantially more than the nearly $100,000 that a new clean diesel truck costs. Requiring such vehicles would push more than $1 billion in added costs on to a trucking industry that has already spent more than $700 million over the past four years to upgrade their port-servicing drayage fleets to 2007 or newer model year diesel trucks.

Another consideration is what is called the spare factor, or how many extra trucks are needed in the fleet to meet demand when down time for various reasons such as maintenance is calculated.
An industry study conducted several years ago found that a fair estimate of the diesel fleet spare factor was 15 percent, that is, the diesel fleets need 15 percent more trucks than the number needed to perform the demanded work. With LNG-fueled powered fleets this factor jumps to 30 percent. Estimates suggest that while electric trucks would likely require less maintenance down time, the need for these trucks to sit for many hours to charge would boost the spare factor to well over 30 percent, at an added cost of more than $300 million to the $1 billion just to upgrade the current fleets to electric trucks.

A final consideration is the bang for the buck such a zero-emission system will achieve. The ports' current Clean Truck Programs have reduced ports-generated truck pollution by more than 80 percent since 2008, and are set to reach close to 90 percent by the end of this year. This at a cost between the two ports and the trucking industry of about $1 billion over four years, or just over $11 million per percentage point of emissions reduction. The various zero-emission system could cost anywhere from $200 million to more than $1 billion to address a portion of the remaining 10 percent of truck emissions, as not all ports-servicing trucks go to the ICTF.

However, the ICTF JPA is the final arbiter on the EIR and the approval process does not involve the Long Beach City Council. As the resolution is non-binding, the JPA could decide during the approval process of the EIR to either include a sero-emissions system option or ignore the request outright.

Trace Radiation Found Aboard Cargo Ship at Tacoma Port

Low, non-life threatening levels of radiation were detected Wednesday aboard a cargo ship tied up at the Port of Tacoma, according to the United States Coast Guard.

The radiation was detected in the engine room air filters of the Hyundai Oakland, which arrived Tuesday at the port. It is the first ship to arrive at the port from Asia since the post-earthquake/tsunami problems at Japan's Fukushima nuclear power plant arose, including reported releases of radioactive material. The ship's last call had been Shanghai, however, according to the Coast Guard the ship had not passed within 250 miles of Japan.

The Coast Guard emphasized that the detected levels aboard the ship were not harmful to human health and were confined to the engine room filters.

State health officials told local TV station KIRO 7 that the "finding was expected because of the radiation that has spread from the nuclear plant across the ocean and the enormous size of the filter on the ship."

The US Customs and Border Protection have been screening all cargo arriving from Japan since the earthquake for radiation.

Austrian researchers using a worldwide system of detectors set up to detect clandestine nuclear weapons tests have calculated that iodine-131 is being released from the Japanese facility at daily levels equal to 73 percent of those seen near Chernobyl after that plant's 1986 disaster. The monitors, including detectors in Alaska, Hawaii and Sacramento, California, also indicate that the daily amount of caesium-137 released from the Fukushima plant is around 60 percent of the amount released from Chernobyl.

The researchers pointed out, however, that while Chernobyl spread radioactive particles in the smoke generated by the massive fire at the Ukrainian plant, the majority of the Japanese radiation is localized to the area around the Fukushima power plant.

Maersk to Celebrate Five Years of Low Sulfur Running

Following on the heels of a major order for the largest and most fuel efficient ships in the industry, Maersk Line next week will celebrate the fifth anniversary of its switch to low-sulfur MGO distillate fuel in all its vessels calling at California ports.

Since the start of the program on March 31, 2006, the carrier giant has expanded the program to Houston, Seattle, Tacoma, and Vancouver, BC. Maersk estimates that the fuel program has eliminated 4,100 tons of pollutants that would have been generated by Maersk vessels at North American ports.

In California, the carrier has been using the MGO fuel in main engines when a vessel is within 24 miles of the port of call, and in auxiliary engines when within 24 miles of the coast.

In Seattle, Tacoma and Vancouver, Maersk vessels switch their auxiliary engines to the cleaner burning fuel while at dock – significantly reducing hotel emissions.

According to Maersk, the carrier's vessels have logged a 95 percent reduction of sulfur oxides, 6 percent reduction in nitrogen oxides and 86 percent reduction in particulate matter emissions at North American ports.

The program has not come without some cost.

The vessels have used 60,000 metric tons of the higher-priced MGO fuel in 1,970 vessel calls – at a cost to Maersk of $20 million.

Last week, Maersk placed a $1.9 billion order with Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering for 10 vessels in the new Triple-E 18,000 TEU class. The 1,312-foot-long vessels, set to be delivered between 2013 and 2015, will be the largest container vessels in the world and will be 26 percent more fuel efficient per container moved than the industry's current largest vessels in the 14,000 TEU range.

Damaged Japanese Ports Reopen, Supply Chain and Radiation Concerns Remain

The March 11 earthquake/tsunami disaster in Japan did far less damage to the island nation's port infrastructure than initially thought, but non-marine infrastructure damage is still causing internal supply chain problems and fears of radiation exposure are increasing concerns as post-disaster Japanese cargo begins arriving at international ports.

While actual damage from the 9.0 earthquake appears to have been minimal at most port facilities, the subsequent tsunami was thought to have heavily damaged at least four major ports in the affected area, including: Hachinohe, Ishinomaki, Onahama and Sendai.

Other northern ports that were initially reported to have suffered varying degrees of damage include: Aomori, Hitachinaka, Hitachi, Kesennuma, Kamashi, Miyako, Ofunato, Oarai, Shiogama, and Soma.

Japan's Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism reported Thursday that, "Fifteen of 15 ports in the afflicted area are usable. Multi-purpose piers are partly available, excluding Aomori port."

The Ministry also said that the ports are open for both humanitarian and commercial vessels.

Despite the opening of the ports, damage to highway, railroad and factory infrastructure throughout the northeast continues to cause supply chain problems.

Auto manufacturers throughout Japan are struggling to reestablish their supply chains with some automakers, such as Toyota shuttering most of their plants, while others, such as Nissan, restarting production facilities but only as long as on-hand part supplies last. Goldman Sachs has estimated that each lost production day costs Nissan about $25 million in profits.

Consumer electronics manufacturer Sony has shuttered six production plants across Japan until at least the end of March. Major production facilities belonging to Fujitsu, Nikon, Texas Instruments, and Toshiba have also suffered damage and been shuttered. Perhaps more significantly to the electronics industry, the Shin-Etsu Chemical firm has shuttered two production facilities including their Shirakawa facility in Fukushima which produces about 20 percent of the world's supply of the silicon wafers used to make computer and memory chips.

Radiation, which continues to leak from the heavily damaged Fukushima nuclear power plant, is also becoming a concern – and in some cases far from Japan's shores.

While very low-levels of radioactive material from the disaster have been detected at West Coast monitors from Alaska to Sacramento, radiation has also been detected on at least one vessel moving past Japan and on cargo loaded in Japan after the earthquake.

Low, non-life threatening levels of radiation were detected Wednesday in the engine room air filters of a cargo ship tied up at the Port of Tacoma, according to the United States Coast Guard. The ship, the first post-quake ship from Asia to call at the port, had last called at Shanghai. Coast Guard officials pointed out that the ship had not passed within 250 miles of Japan.

On Friday, Chinese officials at the Port of Xiamen detected "abnormal radiation" aboard a cargo vessel that had last called at the Port of Tokyo on March 17. Officials did not provide the exact levels of radiation, or the condition of the ship crew or cargo.

The first vessel to arrive at the Port of Los Angeles carrying post-quake cargo from Japan was inspected and cleared by US Customs and Border Protection staff on Thursday. Customs officials said, "no harmful levels of radiation were found" among the 355 containers that were screened.

German shipping lines Hapag-Lloyd and Claus-Peter Offen have stopped calling at the central Japanese ports of Tokyo and Yokohama, citing radiation fears. Hamburg Sud, which initially had stopped calling at Tokyo and Yokohama last week, resumed calls at the two ports on Thursday.

Australia, Hong Kong, Singapore and the United States are restricting food and milk imports from the zone around the crippled nuclear power plant.

China has implemented tougher restrictions that cover dairy, aquatic and vegetable products from five Japanese prefectures.

South Korea has banned all food products from four Japanese prefectures around the Fukushima power plant.

Taiwan has banned foodstuffs from five Japanese prefectures and advised local fisherman not to fish in Japanese waters.

Canada, the European Union, Great Britain, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam have all stepped up monitoring of Japanese imports.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Compass Courses: Celebrating 10 Years of Training Professional Mariners

March 2011

For ten years, mariners of all skill levels have relied on Edmonds, Washington-based Compass Courses Maritime Training to prepare them for the next step in their career. From experienced mariners hoping to advance their careers or fulfill license requirements to new mariners who need the basics to get started in the industry, Compass Courses offers a variety of training options.

Owned and operated by Julie Keim, Compass Courses is a private training organization providing USCG approved licensing and safety training. Since Keim started the North Seattle mariner training facility, Compass Courses has trained more than 7,000 mariners in 17 USCG approved courses.

The school is located in Edmonds, Washington, 20 minutes North of Seattle and a short walk to the Port of Edmonds waterfront and marina. The school’s location is also convenient to several nearby spaces including conference space and hotel facilities. Compass Courses boasts a main classroom for 24 students and a radar simulator lab with space and radar equipment for 10 students at a time. For specialized training, the school holds classes at offsite facilities, with fire training taking place at the Washington State Fire Training Academy, in North Bend, Washington, and survival exercises for the Basic Safety Training class held at a nearby swimming pool. The school is also the school is taking an adjacent space to create another classroom for 17 more students.

Compass Courses offers a variety of training options for mariners of all skill levels and experience and a staff of seven part-time instructors and one full-time instructor. All of the school’s courses are US Coast Guard approved.

Julie Keim, who sailed on a commercial license with a local cruise line prior to founding the company, says the school is dedicated to providing the best training environment for its students, in a comfortable and modern facility. “We want the students to get the most out of the courses,” she says. Most of the students are taking time off of work to attend courses, so the facility is geared toward making the most efficient use of their time. Compass Courses commits to its posted schedule, even if enrollment is low, and the school has negotiated rates with a reasonably priced hotel a short walk from the campus. There are several restaurants nearby, and the facility has a clean, well-appointed galley for those who choose to take their meals on-site.

Among the US Coast Guard-certified courses offered by the school are STCW Basic Safety Training, Bridge Resource Management and Crisis and Crowd Management courses.

Basic Training
The school’s STCW Basic Safety Training course is five days, usually held Monday-Friday, and satisfies the Basic Safety Training requirements for all licenses and endorsements. The BST training is divided into four different courses.

The 16-hour basic firefighting course is designed for all seafarers with safety or pollution prevention duties, and focuses on training to minimize the risk of fire, maintain a state of readiness to respond to emergency situations involving fire, and fight and extinguish shipboard fires. This two-day section includes one day of classroom theory and one day of live-fire training at the Washington State Fire Training Academy, located in North Bend, Washington. Personal Survival Techniques is a 12-hour course designed for all seafarers with safety or pollution prevention duties. Students are taught competency in surviving at sea in the event of ship abandonment. This section of the BST training includes a practical demonstration of skills in the pool with life rafts and immersion suits. The 4-hour Personal Safety and Social Responsibility course is designed for all seafarers with safety or pollution prevention duties, and trains students to comply with emergency procedures, take precautions to prevent pollution of the marine environment, observe safe working practices, understand orders and be understood in relation to shipboard duties, and contribute to effective human relationships on board ship. The fourth BST course is Medical Emergencies at Sea (First Aid & CPR). This 8-hour course is taught by an experienced medical care provider, and covers basic First Aid and CPR with emphasis on techniques and methods used while at sea. On completion of this course a mariner will be able to take immediate action upon encountering an accident or other medical emergency.

The school offers an Able-Bodied Seaman, “in lieu of exam” course, designed for mariners who have satisfied the sea service requirements for the Able Seaman rating. Successful completion of this 40-hour course satisfies the written and practical examination for any Able Seaman document, including Unlimited, Limited, Special and Special OSV.

Upon successful completion of the course, a mariner who presents his Certificate of Training at a USCG Regional Exam Center has satisfied the written examination requirements of 46 CFR 12.05-9 for the “Deck & Navigation General / Deck Safety” and “Deck General & Safety / Rules of the Road” exam modules for any Able Seaman endorsement, as well as the practical (knot-tying) examination requirements of 46 CFR 12.05-9 for any Able Seaman endorsement.

Compass Courses also offers a two-day course that satisfies the training requirements of the STCW Regulation A-II/4 and Section A-II/4 for certification as Rating Forming Part of a Navigational Watch Restricted to Lookout Duties only. An Able Seaman getting the STCW endorsement is required to satisfy the RFPNW training and qualifications.

The school’s STCW Proficiency in Survival Craft/Lifeboatman course is taught with the help of the facility’s newest piece of equipment, a full-size Gravity Lifeboat Davit. The davit allows the school flexibility in their schedule, by offering Able Seaman and Basic Safety Training twice a month.

Julie Keim acquired the davit, formerly fitted to the Military Sealift Command’s Modular Cargo Delivery System ship SS Gulf Farmer, and had it disassembled and completely rebuilt, painted and fitted with new rigging and equipment, including rebuilt electric winches.

The 32-hour course satisfies the training requirements of 46 CFR 12.10-3(a)(5) or (6) and sections A-VI/2 and Table A-VI/2-1 of the STCW 95 Code, as well as satisfying the written and practical requirements of 46 CFR 12.10.5 for any endorsement as Lifeboatman, provided that sea service requirements are met. Students successfully completing this course take the Coast Guard examinations from Compass Courses.

Operations Management
The school offers a two-week, 80-hour Captain’s License course designed for those who are looking to upgrade from Operator of Uninspected Passenger Vessels (OUPV), hold a license of 25-50 GRT, or for those who are going for their original license and have seatime on private or commercial vessels. The course offers two weeks of classroom instruction by a professional, licensed captain, and the school’s staff helps guide mariners through the whole process, including documenting seatime and assistance with the application process.

A non-simulator based Bridge Resource Management (BRM) course provides training to mariners seeking an STCW endorsement at the management and operational (Master/Mate) levels on vessels over 500 Gross Tons ITC. The BRM course is also valuable to other vessel operators who may not be seeking US Coast Guard documents, licenses or endorsements, or whose experience is not up to the minimum requirements established under ideal conditions.

The school’s five-day radar observer course trains students in the proper use of radar for risk assessment, collision avoidance, and navigation. The curriculum exceeds USCG and IMO requirements for radar training, and includes classroom instruction where students master the theories behind effective use of radar equipment, and “hands-on” training on our state-of-the-art PC based radar simulator. The course satisfies the requirements of 46 CFR 10.480 as a Radar Observer (Unlimited); Radar training requirements for certification as Officer in Charge of a Navigational Watch on vessels of 500 or more gross tons (ITC); and Table A-II/1 of the STCW-95 code. The school also offers a one-day Radar Observer Renewal course, approved for Unlimited, Inland and Rivers Recertification.

Crisis Management
To address mandatory minimum requirements for the training and qualifications of masters, officers, ratings and other personnel on passenger ships, Compass Courses offers STCW Crowd Management & Crisis Management and Human Behavior courses, for ro/ro and non-ro/ro operation.

The school’s four-hour Crowd Management course (including ro/ro), offered to individuals and groups, is designed for all personnel designated on muster lists to assist passengers in emergency situations on passenger ships. The course satisfies the crowd management training requirements and Safety Training requirements of Section A-V/2 of the STCW Code for Ro/Ro Passenger Vessels and Paragraph 3 of Section A-V/3 of the STCW Code for Passenger Ships Other Than Ro/Ro Passenger Vessels.

Also offered is a 14-hour Crisis Management and Human Behavior (including ro/ro) for chief mates, chief engineers, second officers and any person having responsibility for the safety of passengers in emergency situations. This two-day course covers the Crisis Management and Human Behavior training requirements for Ro/Ro Passenger Ships and Passenger Ships Other Than Ro/Ro Passenger ships. The course also covers the Passenger Safety, Cargo Safety and Hull Integrity training requirements of Paragraph 4 of Section A-V/2 of the STCW Code for Ro/Ro Passenger Ships and the Passenger Safety training requirements of Paragraph 4 of Section A-V/2 of the STCW Code for Passenger Ships Other Than Ro/Ro Passenger Ships.

The eight-hour Crisis Management and Human Behavior (non ro/ro) course is designed for chief mates, chief engineers, second officers and any person having responsibility for the safety of passengers in emergency situations.

All of the school’s Crowd & Crisis Management & Human Behavior classes are scheduled for groups and are exportable. The school’s instructors go to the client’s vessel or facility to conduct the class.

In addition to the school’s full selection of regularly scheduled open enrollment classes, Compass Courses creates custom training programs for individual or group training, either at the school or onsite at the client’s facility.

As companies struggle to find qualified mariners to fill positions on their vessels, training facilities like Compass Course offer mariners an exciting and affordable alternative to four-year maritime academies, while offering employers a new generation of well-trained mariners.

Long Beach Port Staff Could Find New Home In WTC

Port of Long Beach officials on Monday discussed the possibility of moving the port's roughly 375-member staff from their 51-year-old administration building to the city's landmark World Trade Center.

The 27-story WTC, located just blocks north of the port, was opened in 1989 and is one of the premier office towers in the downtown Long Beach skyline.

Conducted behind closed doors, Monday's briefing by port staff presented the pros and cons of the WTC as a viable option for a new port headquarters to port commissioners.

The port had planned to build a state-of-the-art $300 million showcase administration building on port property adjacent to the current building. However, despite the port planning to use no tax revenue or city funds, Long Beach Mayor Bob Foster last year nixed the idea. Foster questioned the wisdom of the autonomous port authority building a new headquarters while his City Hall administration struggles with a city budget racked by projected deficits and dwindling revenue streams.

In lieu of the new building, port officials have been looking at various locations throughout Long Beach that could be leased or purchased to serve as a replacement for the current six-story headquarters. Reports over the years have indicated that the current port building would not fare well in a major earthquake as it was built to late-1950s building codes and has not received seismic retrofits.

The port would require at least 90,000 square feet of office space to match the current administration building.

The WTC currently has more than 110,000 square feet of office space available, split among six vacant floors. The going rate to lease the six floors would run the port roughly $275,000 a month.

One drawback is that the vacant WTC floors are not contiguous--located on floors 3, 9, 10, 17, 22, and 24.

Another option for the port would be to purchase the WTC outright.

The building traded hands in 2003 for $113.7 million, and changed hands again to the current owner, private investment group Legacy Partners, in 2007 for $148.9 million. Given the current property market conditions, it may be possible for the port to purchase the building on very favorable terms if the owners are willing to sell. Legacy Partners does not have the building listed as "for sale." Based on currently listed leasing opportunities in the WTC, the building has an occupancy of between 65 and 70 percent.

If the port administration did move to the WTC, it would be somewhat of a full circle, as the port was one of the original financial sponsors of the WTC project in the 1980s.

NRDC Gets More Time to Prove Long Beach Port Erred in Truck Program Settlement

A federal judge who ruled in favor of the Port of Los Angeles Clean Truck Program is now considering whether the Port of Long Beach required an environmental review before settling separately over their version of the truck program with the American Trucking Associations.

The weekend decision by US District Court Judge Christina Snyder provided an additional week for the National Resources Defense Council to file supporting evidence to its charge that Long Beach should have performed an environmental impact report to provide a baseline to measure against any pollution reduction achieved by the truck program.

The ATA filed suit in 2008 over the jointly-developed Long Beach/Los Angeles port truck program requiring port-servicing drayage firms to sign so-called concession agreements to gain access to port terminals. Firms without such an access license are barred from entering port facilities. The truck plan was originally conceived by the ports as a means to bar older polluting trucks and force port-servicing trucking firms to use newer and cleaner burning vehicles, thereby cutting port-generated diesel emissions.

However, Los Angeles port officials included non-environmental criteria in the concession agreements, such as financial, maintenance, insurance, safety, parking and labor criteria. Critics of the truck program's non-environmental components, such as the employee-mandate, have accused the port of engaging in social engineering above and beyond their role as a governmental entity.

The Port of Long Beach, a defendant in the original ATA lawsuit, reached a court-approved settlement with the ATA in 2009 that allowed the Long Beach port to implement a registration system that included all of the environmental aspects of the truck plan, as well as most of the non-environmental aspects. The Long Beach version of the truck plan never called for an employee-only mandate.

In 2010, the NRDC filed suit against Long Beach, arguing that Long Beach agreement with the ATA (which was approved by Judge Snyder at the time), violates the California Environmental Quality Act, which sets down guidelines for environmental reviews of projects that affect air quality. The NRDC believes that the port's abandonment of the Port of Los Angeles model in favor of the registration system has resulted in far fewer emissions being reduced because of stringent truck maintenance requirements in the Los Angeles-style concession agreements. The environmental group also argued that Long Beach officials should have completed an environmental impact report on the truck plan when it was modified by the ATA settlement to provide an emissions baseline – a baseline that could then be used to track the success of the truck program at cutting emissions.

Though no EIR was done on the truck programs, both ports have conducted annual baseline emission studies since 2006.

The ATA pointed out to the court that trucks under the Long Beach program must comply with all local, state and federal environmental standards, including emissions regulations, in order to participate in the registration program.

Following the NRDC submittal of additional evidence, the port will have a week to present a rebuttal argument.

Bellingham Port Provides $70K for Economic Development

The Washington-state Port of Bellingham has awarded $70,000 of in-kind matching funds to support a total of five economic development projects in the small Whatcom County cities of Blaine, Everson, Lynden and Nooksack.

The money comes from a special port-sponsored Small City Economic Development Fund. Port commissioners have also worked a Small Cities Partnership group so that the leaders in those communities could determine their top priorities.

The Commission committed $80,000 in funding for Small City projects for 2011. This funding comes from Industrial Revenue Bond earnings and will be matched by $79,000 in contributions from the small cities.

The City of Blaine received $20,000 for construction management, surveying and materials testing during city construction of a 450-foot commercial cul-de-sac to access former airport property. A part of the former airport property was recently sold to Mercer Distribution and Transport to build a border inspection facility.

The City of Lynden received $30,000 for two projects. The first is $20,000 to help fund a feasibility analysis and business plan for an anaerobic digester, which could collect effluent from dairies and other feedstocks and produce methane gas that would generate electricity, natural gas quality methane gas and low-grade heat. The second is a development and feasibility study to explore whether the city should create a Public Development Authority in its downtown area.

The port is contributing $10,000 to the City of Everson to help fund a required update of the city's water system master plan. The plan is necessary to support water services to a light industrial area and the retail area of downtown.

The port is providing an additional $10,000 to the City of Nooksack to also update the city's water system master plan in order to meet regulatory needs for future growth.

New Build Orders Flying Fast and Furious

Unofficial reports continue to swirl about a major new vessel order by Orient Overseas Container Line. Officials with the carrier have yet to put their name to any announcement, but Lloyd's of London reported from an unnamed source that the Hong Kong-based carrier is very close to finalizing an order for as many as 10 new container vessels from Samsung Heavy Industries, each with a capacity of 13,000 TEUs.

In more concrete news, German carrier Hamburg Süd has officially placed an order for six 9,600 TEU vessels from South Korea-based Hyundai Heavy Industries. The contract, which is valued at $711 million and includes an option for four additional vessels of the same type, calls for scheduled delivery between May 2013 and January 2014.

The six vessels are part of 13 new orders, worth a total of $3.4 billion, won so far this year by Hyundai.

The orders fall on the heels of last month's announcement of a ten-build order placed by Maersk with South Korea-based Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering. The new builds are reportedly 18,000 TEU vessels. The contract, worth an estimated $6 billion, also provides Maersk the option to purchase 20 more of the same class.

At more than 1,300 feet long and nearly 200 feet wide, the new Maersk ships, when delivered, will easily be the largest container ships afloat in the world.