Thursday, September 8, 2011

Hundreds of ILWU Members Storm Longview Grain Facility, Damage Rail Cars and Dump Grain

Hundreds of union dockers protesting the operator of a new $200 million Longview port grain facility stormed the gates of the facility early Thursday, detained security guards, damaged train cars and dumped a reported 10,000 tons of grain from rail cars onto the tracks.

Members of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union from the Seattle, Tacoma, and Everett ports either joining in the Longview action or simply staying at home in support effectively shuttered the three ports Thursday. The union has labeled the Seattle and Tacoma members' actions as a wildcat strike and said it is investigating the extent.

According to police reports, as many as 500 ILWU members took part in the early morning protest in Longview, which ended with no injuries and no arrests. ILWU members were in the facility for several hours and police reported that in addition to the dumped grain, the facility's six security guards were detained, a security vehicle damaged, guard shack windows broken, and railcar brake lines cut. It is the second time protestors have broken into the terminal since the protests began in July.

The ILWU said that those involved in Thursday's incident, which reportedly attracted union members from as far away as Seattle and Tacoma, were not acting under union orders.

The incident comes one day after more than a dozen ILWU members were arrested in two attempts to block the same train.

Early Wednesday morning, more than 200 members of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union took up positions on the Burlington Northern Santa Fe tracks in downtown Vancouver. The grain-laden BNSF train, heading to the EGT grain facility at Longview roughly 35 miles to the north, was blocked until the late afternoon, when it finally resumed heading for Longview.

Hundreds more ILWU members, led by ILWU President Robert McEllrath, blocked the train again near the Port of Longview. After an hour and a half standoff, and the appearance of more than 40 police officers in riot gear, the dockers relented and allowed the train to complete its trip to the grain facility. There were reports that police used clubs and pepper spray at the Longview blockade. Newswire photos from the incident show protesters scuffling with police, who eventually made 19 arrests including McEllrath.

The eight months of ILWU protests in Longview, which have seen more than 100 arrests, center on the summertime decision by EGT – through a subcontractor – to use workers from a different labor union to staff the facility.

The ILWU contends that EGT, in signing a lease last year with the port, also agreed to the ILWU labor exclusivity agreement with the port and EGT is thus required to hire ILWU members for the roughly 100 positions at the facility.

Thursday's incident and both of Wednesday's train incidents appear to run counter to a federal judge's temporary restraining order issued last week against the ILWU, which specifically barred the union from engaging in "unlawful...picket line violence, threats and property damage, mass picketing and blocking of ingress and egress at the facility of EGT."

US District Court Judge Ronald Leighton also prohibited the ILWU from "restraining or coercing the employees of EGT...or any other person doing business in relation to the EGT facility."

The restraining order was requested by the National Labor Relations Board, which only days before had filed a formal complaint contending that the ILWU picketers have no legitimate labor issue with EGT while simultaneously engaging in illegally violent, aggressive and coercive actions against the firm.

An administrative law judge is set to hear the NLRB complaint on Oct. 11 in Portland.
Judge Leighton's temporary restraining order will be in effect through Sept. 10, and the judge plans to conduct a hearing Friday to considering making the restraining order permanent.

ILWU officials said last week they believe the judge's order still permits members to picket EGT.

Los Angeles Awarded Battleship USS Iowa

The United States Navy has awarded the famed World War II battleship USS Iowa to a Southern California group that plans to exhibit the warship as a permanent museum and memorial at the Port of Los Angeles.

Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus made the announcement Wednesday, naming the Los Angeles-based non-profit Pacific Battleship Center (PCB) as the recipient of the battleship over a Bay Area group that was also contending for the honor. The Navy had been considering the fate of the vessel since November of last year, when both groups submitted applications seeking the donation.

"We want to thank the Secretary of the Navy, and the entire United States Navy, for the donation of the USS Iowa to the Pacific Battleship Center," PCB president Robert Kent said.

"With this award, the USS Iowa will become a permanent museum, memorial and educational center. We can now move forward with the work necessary to restore the ship and to bring her to the Port of Los Angeles."

The battleship, which remains in the Navy inventory in "on hold" status as part of a government program that donates vessels to museum groups, saw service in World War II, Korea, and served again as part of the United States Navy's "big stick" policy from 1984 to 1989. It is the last surviving battleship in the world that has not been permanently placed as a floating museum.

The USS Iowa, now in long-term storage in Suisun Bay just east of San Francisco Bay, is set to be towed to Los Angeles near the end of the year.

Late last year, the governing board for the Port of Los Angeles approved supporting a plan by the PCB to acquire the battleship and ensconce the warship at the port as a floating museum.

Voting unanimously to support the PBC acquisition efforts, the port commission also approved the use of Berth 87 near the port's main cruise terminal as the future home for the battleship. The Los Angeles City Council had previously backed the PBC plan in September 2010.

The current Los Angeles plan calls for the battleship to be moored year-round at Berth 87, with portions of the vessel available to the public for guided tours, special events, and educational programs. Pending future funding, a second phase of the project may include an approximately 33,800-square foot, two-story landside Visitors Center that will include a museum and education center featuring historic artifacts, educational programs, and food concession areas; ticketing, gift shop, and restroom facilities.

An economic feasibility study conducted by outside consultant AECOM estimated that attendance to the USS Iowa at the Port of Los Angeles would range between a low of 137,000 visitors a year to a high of 236,000 visitors a year, with a median of roughly 190,000 visitors a year from 2014 on. The analysis estimated that Southern California residents would make up roughly two-thirds of all visitors and the remaining third would be outside visitors.

However, the AECOM analysis estimated that even with these attendance numbers, the USS Iowa as an attraction would run a projected deficit of about $2.7 million a year. AECOM staff said this deficit would have to be addressed by other outside revenue such as fund raising, government support or philanthropic donations.

It is estimated that the start-up costs, including developing the site and restoring the vessel, would total just over $8.5 million during the first two years in Los Angeles.

In addition to a major fundraising effort set to start soon and which PCB hopes will raise $20 million, the state of Iowa has pledged $3 million to the restoration of the USS Iowa.

Depending on funding, the vessel could open to the public as early as 2012.

Vancouver USA Port Extends Food Processor Lease

The Port of Vancouver USA has approved a three-year lease extension to food processor Neil Jones Food Company, which operates its Northwest Packing Company (NWP) facility on a 15.5-acre parcel at the port.

Port officials said that the lease extension would provide NWP and the port the ability to "accommodate long range planning prior to negotiating mutually agreeable terms for the 25-year extension."

Neil Jones specializes in canned tomatoes, tomato sauces, fruits, fruit sauces, and fruit juice concentrates. The NWP facility handles the firm's Oregon Trail, Earthpure and NWPacking brands.

The current 25-year lease, which began in 1986 and expires at the end of this year, affords NWP the option to seek an additional 25-year lease. The three-year extension approved Tuesday does not affect the optional 25-year lease, but merely extends the current lease through December 31, 2014.

As part of the lease review process, the boundaries of the NWP were adjusted to better reflect the actual site area in use today by the firm. The changes resulted in a net reduction to the parcel of just over 14,000 square feet to just over 676,000 square feet. This readjustment also lowered NWP's rent by just over $450 a month. Due to the discovery of the changed land use, the port also plans to remit a credit of just under $25,000 to NWP in recognition of the overpayment of rent.

The NWP facility currently employs 150 full-time employees on a year-round basis and up to an additional 280 full-time employees during the peak harvest and packing seasons.

The facility is one of three operated by the privately owned and family-run Neil Jones Food Co. which is based in Vancouver.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Gulf Coast Ports Target Expanding Trade

Like their East Coast brethren, Gulf Coast ports have been expanding facilities in expectation of more business once construction of larger locks at the Panama Canal is completed in 2014. Increasing trade with South American countries, especially Brazil, is also spurring development. This is seeing infrastructure investment take place from the Port of Brownsville, Texas in the west to Port Manatee, Florida in the east. It is also generating potential construction of several completely new ports and cargo handling facilities on the Gulf, such as the Louisiana International Gulf Transfer Terminal being eyed for development near the mouth of the Mississippi River, and the La Quinta Trade Gateway Multipurpose Facility, already under first-stage development in southwestern Texas.

Reconstruction from the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina in 2005 is also continuing, with the Port of Gulfport, Mississippi, the hardest hit of all Gulf ports, in the middle of a major project that will see its marine facilities elevated by 25 feet while cargo handling capacity will be quadrupled. Such expansion, along with new rail infrastructure, will attract the interest of shippers and steamship lines, some of which now utilize West Coast gateways for most of their Midwest-bound traffic.

One of the Gulf ports working most strongly to capture new trade from the enlarged Panama Canal is Florida’s Port Manatee, located across Tampa Bay from the larger Port of Tampa. Although a small port engaged mainly in produce handling, Manatee is also the closest US port to the Panama Canal and has just renewed a marketing and information-sharing agreement with the Panama Canal Authority (ACP) for five more years. This makes it the second US port – and Florida’s only port – to have a five-year alliance with Panama. “Through our relationship with the ACP, we have gained a unique appreciation for Panama’s role in Port Manatee’s future,” said Port Manatee’s Executive Director David L. McDonald.

McDonald pointed out that a new 1,584 foot-long container berth is nearing completion at the port and that a dredging project to deepen the container berth to 41 feet at mean-low-water is currently underway. This project is targeted for completion before the end of the year, with the terminal considered the final piece in Manatee’s $200 million expansion into the containerized trades. In addition, the Manatee County government has “incentivized” nearly 5,000 acres of largely undeveloped land located adjacent to the port to attract more shippers to Florida’s west coast. “This sends a message to the industry and opens the door to advance Port Manatee’s future in containerized shipping,” said McDonald. “To attract class-A carriers, we have to offer a class-A facility.”

Another Gulf port recently signing a partnership agreement with the Panama Canal is Mississippi’s Port of Gulfport, currently engaged in a major reconstruction program after the devastation of hurricane Katrina in 2005. “Maritime commerce is vital to Mississippi’s economy, and the expansion of the Panama Canal provides the state with considerable opportunities for increased trade and worldwide shipping,” said Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour of the marketing agreement. “Through the partnership with the Panama Canal Authority, the Port of Gulfport will be able to offer even more businesses quick, affordable access to nearly three-quarters of American consumers.”

In June, Gulfport received additional federal funding for a six-year project to elevate port property to 25 feet while quadrupling cargo capacity. Community Development Block Grant money from the US Housing and Urban Development Department, earmarked for Katrina recovery, is paying for the restoration and elevation, with the port having received a total of $570 million to date. Part of these funds have been used to rebuild three berths with a total investment of over $51 million while additional funds are being used to add 84 acres to the port’s West Pier, work which was underway when Katrina struck. The Mississippi gateway is currently handling about as much cargo as it did before Katrina, with 105,000 TEUS moved last year, ranking it as the nation’s 18th busiest container port.

New Orleans
At the Port of New Orleans container volumes have recently exceeded pre-Katrina numbers, largely because of terminal expansion and new equipment that has been brought on line over the past five years. Earlier this year two new container cranes, purchased for $26.5 million from South Korea’s Doosan Heavy Industries & Construction Co. Ltd, were landed at the port’s Napoleon Avenue Container Terminal. Both were delivered by the Chinese semi-submersible heavylift ship Tai An Kou (see Pacific Maritime Magazine, June 2011). The cranes have a 110-foot lift height, a 167-foot outreach, and a 65-long-ton lift capacity, making them among the Gulf Coast’s largest.

“This vital investment in our container operations will position the Port of New Orleans as one of the most productive and efficient container ports in the Gulf of Mexico and South Atlantic region,” said Port President and CEO Gary LaGrange. “They will be faster and more efficient and allow the port to work larger ships and produce quicker turnaround times for our customers.”

The expanded lifting capacity comes after the port moved 427,518 TEUs last year and crane usage jumped by more than 18 percent in the first quarter of this year. “The Port of New Orleans is seeing upward trends in all of its container operations,” said LaGrange. “We are working together with all of our carriers and terminal operators to ensure long-term growth of container operations.”

Louisiana International Gulf Transfer Terminal
While New Orleans continues to add container capacity there are still plans by the State of Louisiana to move ahead with the creation of the Louisiana International Gulf Transfer Terminal (LIGTF) near the mouth of the Mississippi River. Mississippi state Senator A.G. Crowe, (R-Slidell), who sponsored legislation to create the LIGTF as a state agency in 2008, said that investors for the project are expected to be lined up within the next three months. “The way it’s set up and the way it’s staged right now, is that everything is in place,” said Crowe. “Everything is in place, there’s no negotiating the lease, and it’s in the legislation.”

Pointing to a recent ten-year lease agreement between the Port of New Orleans and the Mediterranean Shipping Company, Crowe said he believes the transfer terminal will fill what he sees as a “need for additional capacity” to handle container cargo on the Gulf Coast.

According to Crowe, the new facility would be built on a 260-acre tract of land along the east bank of the Mississippi’s Southwest Pass, in Plaquemines Parish, and would allow ships that are too big for existing ports on the river, such as New Orleans and Baton Rouge, to have their cargo transshipped to smaller vessels for onward carriage upstream. Crowe said project officials plan to travel to China shortly to meet with potential investors in the hopes that the project could be completed in time to take advantage of the widening of the Panama Canal.

In Texas, the Port of Galveston has been eyeing a similar plan to handle ships too large to navigate inland to the Port of Houston but the project’s biggest potential investor, Hong-Kong-based Hutchison Port Holdings, withdrew from negotiations earlier this year, leading its US-based partner, investment group Carlyle, to also withdraw. Roland Bassett, chairman of the Galveston Wharves Board, said Hutchison offered no explanation for the move. “I can’t even speculate what the reason was,” he said, adding that only the Bank of Montreal, which had been handling negotiations for the deal, informed the Wharves Board of the withdrawal.

Bassett said the Hutchison-Carlyle partnership had proposed a 75-year lease, far longer than most port leases, and had agreed to pay off the port’s estimated $60 million debt. In addition, the group would have paid an unspecified amount of cash up front plus committed to 10 years of capital expenditures. The two parties would have shared revenues from Galveston’s container and cruise terminal while Hutchison-Carlyle would have provided annual expense payments to the port.

Undaunted by the collapse of negotiations, Bassett remains optimistic about Galveston’s future, particularly in the cruising sphere where it has already taken most business from Houston because of its closer location to the Gulf. The port is currently expanding its three-berth Texas Cruise Ship Terminal in a project that may eventually amount to an investment of over $12 million.

While the Port of Houston admits that it has lost cruise ship traffic to Galveston, despite the opening of its own terminal, it doesn’t fear loss of container traffic, which has been up by 11 percent tonnage-wise since the start of the year. In April, ships as large as 8,100 TEUs began arriving at the port’s Bayport Container Terminal, where the previous record had only been around 6,500 TEUs. “We had three 8,000-TEU ship arrivals,” noted port CEO Alec G. Dreyer, “the largest container ships that have ever come into the Gulf of Mexico.”

To prepare for the even bigger box boats expected after the Panama Canal widening, Houston plans to continue expanding Bayport while refurbishing its Barbours Cut terminal in La Porte. According to Dreyer, this will include the installation of longer reach and higher lift capacity container cranes plus more equipment. There are also plans to deepen navigation and berthing channels at both container terminals from 40 feet to 45 feet.

While making these capacity enhancements Houston officials have been quick to remind major retailers, such as Home Depot and Wal-Mart, both of which have set up major distribution centers in the Houston area, of the 2002 labor shutdown on the West Coast. To make sure this message is heard in the Far East, the port has hired Ben Line Agencies of Singapore to seek additional business from the Southeast Asia region, particularly China.

Corpus Christi
In southwestern Texas the Port of Corpus Christi is continuing with development of the La Quinta Trade Gateway Multipurpose Facility (LQTGMF). This complex, to eventually provide a state-of-the-art multipurpose dock and container terminal capable of handling at least one million TEUs annually, is being targeted to post-Panama Canal expansion. More than 1,000 acres of port property have already been fully permitted for construction of both the box terminal and the 3,800-foot multipurpose dock.

In May, the US Army Corps of Engineers announced $58.5 million in funding for dredging of the La Quinta Channel extension while the port will commit approximately $15 million to the same project. “This is an important achievement for the port,” said Corpus Christi Port Commission chairman Mike Carrell. “The extension of the La Quinta Channel is a major step forward towards the development of the La Quinta Trade Gateway Multipurpose Facility.” He noted that the dredging project would also provide support for development of the TPCO American Corporation Steel Pipe mill at Gregory, Texas, as well as a gas processing plant proposed for construction in the same area by Cheniere Energy.

As currently envisioned, the LQTGMF will provide up to three ship berths on a depth of 45 feet of water served by nine ship-to-shore cranes. The berths will be backed by 180 acres of container storage area and served by a high-capacity intermodal rail yard. There will also be another 400 acres available for the construction of onsite truck distribution and warehouse centers.

While Port of Corpus Christi commissioners have approved a Lease Option Agreement (LOA) with Global Terminal Advisors (GTA) covering development of the La Quinta complex, they have also approved a Letter of Intent (LOI) with Canyon Supply & Logistics, LLC for the sale of the port’s Ingleside Facility, formerly known as US Naval Station Ingleside, for $102 million. Canyon is a special service company that supports oil and gas production companies operating in the western Gulf and plans to develop the industrial part of the Ingleside facility for offshore logistics purposes. “The Port looks forward to continuing the negotiations with Canyon” said Carrell. “The acquisition of former NSI by Canyon is going to be an excellent opportunity to support growth in the region.”

Under terms of the LOI, Canyon will have until the end of next month to complete all feasibility studies, surveys and due diligences, after which it will have to present a down payment of $24 million and sign a 10-year promissory note for the balance.

The former base site encompasses 483 acres of land, with more than 70 onsite buildings, plus a multi-berth pier and wharf complex. To this infrastructure, the port plans to include 435 acres of green field property located adjacent to the former base that can be incorporated in the development project.

Judge Issues Restraining Order Against ILWU Pickets at Longview Port Facility

A federal judge has issued a temporary restraining order against Port of Longview union dockers who have essentially shut down a new $200 million grain terminal at the port over a labor dispute with grain facility operator EGT Development.

In the order issued Thursday, District Court Judge Ronald Leighton prohibits members of the International Longshore and Warehouse union from engaging in "unlawful...picket line violence, threats and property damage, mass picketing and blocking of ingress and egress at the facility of EGT."

Leighton also prohibited the ILWU from "restraining or coercing the employees of EGT... or any other person doing business in relation to the EGT facility."

The restraining order was requested by the National Labor Relations Board, just days after the federal agency filed a formal complaint accusing the Longview ILWU local of unfair labor practices. The NLRB contends that the picketers have no legitimate labor issue with EGT while simultaneously engaging in illegally violent, aggressive and coercive actions against the firm.

An administrative law judge is set to hear the NLRB complaint on Oct. 11 in Portland. If the NLRB complaint is upheld, it could force the ILWU members to end the eight-month long labor dispute.

Judge Leighton's temporary restraining order will be in effect through Sept. 10, and the judge plans to conduct a Sept. 8 hearing to considering making the restraining order permanent.

The ILWU protests, which at times have seen hundreds of dockers protesting outside the grain facility, center on the decision by EGT – through a subcontractor – to use non-ILWU union workers to staff the facility. EGT has said that using the non-ILWU union workers will save the firm more than $1 million a year.

ILWU Local 21, which covers the Longview port, contends that EGT, in signing a lease with the port, also agreed to the union's labor exclusivity agreement with the port and EGT is thus required to hire ILWU members.

Negotiations between EGT and the ILWU over the approximately 50 positions at the facility broke down earlier this year and local ILWU protests since have at times shuttered the grain facility, halted rail service, and led to the arrest of numerous picketers. The union blames EGT for the recent escalations in the protests.

EGT sued the port in January, arguing that it is not bound by the contract between the port and the ILWU. The union requested to join the port in the suit, a move that was recently approved by the court. The case is expected to be heard sometime this month.

ILWU officials said they believe Judge Leighton's order still allows members to picket EGT, albeit within the guidelines set down by the judge.

EGT has not said if it will resume activity at the facility, which was nearing the final stages of completion when the picketing began.

ACX to Cash In on Marine Highway With New Facility at Stockton Port

Less than two weeks after the state okayed further funds for the $30 million Port of Stockton-to-Oakland "marine highway" barge system, Bakersfield, Calif.-based hay exporter ACX Pacific Northwest said it will take advantage of the all-water transportation system by opening a new hay export processing facility at the Stockton port in October.

Predicted to generate 40 to 60 new jobs, ACX expects the new facility to allow the firm to tap sources from farms in the northern San Joaquin and Sacramento valleys, as well as sources in southern Oregon, Nevada and beyond.

ACX, a leading hay exporter to Asia and the Middle East, pioneered the export hay form of processing (often referred to as double compression) that allows forage and roughage exporters to inspect and package the hay in containers prior to shipping.

ACX CEO John Gombos said that the added capacity is needed to keep up with the worldwide demand of ACX products. He added that once the facility is complete, ACX will be the only hay exporter with facilities at all major West Coast ports areas.

The Stockton facility will compliment the ACX processing facility in Ellensburg, Wash., that utilizes the Seattle and Tacoma ports, and California facilities in Wasco and Wilmington, which use the Long Beach and Los Angeles ports.

The new Stockton facility will load containers that will be shipped to the Port of Oakland via barge. The all-water system is being touted as a way to remove trucks from area highways, thereby cutting pollution.

The Port of Stockton's so-called marine highway project, which also includes barge service to the further-inland West Sacramento port, received a $750,000 grant from the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District just under two weeks ago.

While air quality agencies like SJVAPC typically invest in programs that replace or improve direct sources of pollution, like truck engines, the prospect of eliminating up to 600 truck trips a week from the Oakland-Stockton/West Sacramento route was enough to garner the new funds. The federal government has already pitched in $30 million for the project, which is expected to begin operation in early 2012.
ACX said that it would not have been able to consider Stockton as a location without the benefit of access to the marine highway.

Rare Wharf Fire Knocked Down In Los Angeles Port

Members of the United States Coast Guard (USCG), Los Angeles Port Police and Los Angeles Fire Department (LAFD) successfully battled a rare dock fire at the Port of Los Angeles last week.

Late in the evening of August 20, USCG officials reported a fire under one of the base's wharfs to LAFD units. Initial reports suggested that welding may have sparked the blaze. The USCG reported that due to the limited personnel at the base they required outside assistance with the blaze.

Three port-stationed LAFD firefighting vessels – Fireboats 1, 2, and 5 – responded on the waterside. Traditional fire units, as well as members from other emergency agencies from around the port area, responded landside.

In the past, wharf fires were not unheard of at the port, but with modern wharf construction utilizing concrete instead of wooden pilings, such events have become rare. While the USCG base does have a more than 1,000-foot-long modern concrete dolphin wharf for use with larger cutters, the fire occurred under an older 330-foot-long, 50-foot-wide wooden-piled and decked wharf.

Responding emergency units found that the fire was located deep under Berth 240 at the USCG dolphin pier that fronts the entire base on the port main channel, making access extremely difficult. In addition, direct access from the waterside was blocked by a 175 foot-long USCG buoy tender docked at the wharf. It was initially determined it may have taken two hours to reposition the vessel.

To avoid further damage to the wharf, or potentially the base itself, LAFD Battalion Chief Ray Gomez, in Unified Command with the USCG and the Los Angeles Port Police, directed a fire attack that came from both above and below.

Divers off the fireboats dove under the dock with "under-wharf" firefighting nozzles to handle the bulk of the fire, while hoselines were advanced from the LAFD engine companies above to prevent a spread of the fire.

The fire required a total of 46 firefighters and divers more than an hour and a half to extinguish.

Damage was confined to a very small section of the wharf, according to LAFD officials, and no injuries were reported.

LAFD officials said that the cause of the fire has not yet been determined and the dollar loss not yet tabulated.

Ironically, the highly coordinated response to the incident comes just over two weeks after an internal audit found that the relationship between the Port of Los Angeles and the LAFD suffered from "frayed trust."

The 67-page audit found that much of the acrimony stemmed from "serious philosophical differences" over how to deal with billing issues between the two entities. The port paid $24 million for LAFD fire services in the port for FY2010, with three-quarters of this going to maintenance and staffing of the fireboats. One of the potential remedies being studied by port officials is to combine fire service costs with the neighboring Port of Long Beach, which paid only $12.3 million for fire services from the Long Beach Fire Department in FY2010.

Two Ocean Carriers, LMC Fined By Calif. Air Regulators

California state air regulators have handed out more than $160,000 in fines over the past two weeks to three transportation-related firms for violations of state environmental laws.

Last week, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) fined two shipping lines for incidents in 2010 where one vessel from each carrier failed to switch from bunker fuel to cleaner-burning, low-sulfur fuel while sailing within 24 miles of the California coast, as required by state law.

The Switzerland-based Mediterranean Shipping Company and Poland-based Chipolbrok Shipping Company were each fined $53,000 by CARB. The November, 2010 violations involve calls at the Port of Long Beach by the MSC Aniello and Chipolbrok's vessel Wieniawski. According to CARB, both vessels used the more polluting bunker fuel "well within the 24-mile limit from the coast" where state law mandates the use of low-sulfur fuel by ocean going vessels.

CARB said that the low-sulfur fuel measure, adopted in 2008, eliminates 15 tons of diesel exhaust daily from ocean-going vessels, and the agency considers the measure "a vital tool in helping to reduce premature deaths and the risk of cancer associated with air pollution in the state’s busy ports and trade corridors."

As part of their settlements with ARB, MSC and Chipolbrok each agreed to pay their fines to the California Air Pollution Control Fund to support air quality research. The two firms must also follow all fuel switchover requirements, and maintain accurate records.

"Cargo vessels can burn some of the dirtiest fuels on the planet and we need to make sure that their engine emissions don't reach our coast," ARB Enforcement Chief James Ryden said in announcing the fines.

"Our fuel regulation is vitally important because it requires shippers to switch to cleaner-burning fuels that help fight air pollution in our coastal regions and port communities."

On August 29, CARB also announced a $59,050 fine against Ontario, Calif.-based motor carrier IVVE Transportation for dispatching trucks not compliant with the emission standards set forth in ARB’s Drayage Truck Regulation.

The regulations, adopted in December 2007 to cut diesel emissions by port-servicing drayage trucks, prohibit the use of pre-1994 model year trucks from servicing ports or rail facilities. The regulations also require 1995 to 2006 trucks to be retrofit with diesel exhaust filters. The regulation also requires that by 2014 all vehciles used in drayage must be 2007 or newer models.

Under the settlement with IVVE Transportation, $44,287.50 of the firm's fine will go to the California Air Pollution Control fund to support air quality research, and $14,762.50 to the Peralta Community College district to help fund diesel education classes around the state. The motor carrier also agreed to cease operating non-compliant vehicles.

"It is especially important for companies involved in moving freight to use the cleanest engines they can afford since they spend so much time on our roads and highways," ARB’s Ryden said.

"We commend businesses that acknowledge their mistakes and then move in the right direction, such as IVVE Transportation. We have to make clean air a priority and that can only happen when businesses do whatever it takes to follow clean air regulations."