Thursday, April 19, 2012

Port of Tacoma Container Volume Flat in March

The total number of 20-foot equivalent units that moved through the Port of Tacoma last month was up, but only slightly, compared with the same month in 2011, according to newly released data.

Tacoma saw 133,109 containers in March, compared with 130,407 in March 2011, an increase of about two percent. Of the total volume, the largest share was in full containers imported from outside the United States, of which there were 43,221 during the month. The port also exported 39,098 TEUs during the month, for a total of 82,319 full inbound and outbound containers through the port.

This was a significant rise from the 73,148 full TEUs that moved traveled through Tacoma in March 2011, but was offset by decreases in the number of empty inbound and outbound containers, as well as the number of containers that were shipped to the non-international destinations of Alaska and Hawaii.

A total of 37,730 TEUs traveled between Tacoma and the two noncontiguous US states in March, down significantly from the 43,346 that moved during the same period in 2011. The drop in empty international containers however, was not as steep, falling from 13,923 TEUs in March of last year to 13,060 in March 2012.

For the calendar year to date, the port’s total volume has been flat compared with the same three months in 2011. Tacoma shipped 345,648 TEUs from January through March of this year, a 1.9 percent decrease from the 352,189 that were moved in the same period in 2011.

Regarding individual types of cargo, break bulk volumes through the port soared in March to 62,132 TEUs, eclipsing by far the 32,158 units that Tacoma saw in March 2011. For the year to date, break bulk volumes are up 93 percent at Tacoma, something the port attributes to continued high demand for machinery and construction equipment.

On the minus side however, was the number of logs moved. The total volume plummeted 35.9 percent last month to 88,057, compared with March 2011’s 137,417.

But despite the declines in some categories, the total number of vessel calls last month rose compared with the same period last year, going from 245 to 252, an increase of nearly three percent.

EPA Concerned About Port Coal Project

A Port of Morrow, Oregon project that would ship coal to Asia could potentially have significant impacts to both humans and the environment in the area according to a letter sent by the US Environmental Protection Agency to the Army Corps of Engineers, which is overseeing the project.

In a letter sent to the Corps earlier this month, the EPA said it was concerned about potential diesel pollution from the Morrow Pacific project causing damage to people, animals and their surroundings and recommended that the Corps conduct a broad and thorough analysis of any cumulative impacts the project could have.

The Morrow Pacific project is a planned $110 million coal transfer and off-loading facility at the port, which is located on the Columbia River in Morrow County, Oregon. Trains would carry up to eight million tons of coal a year from Montana and Wyoming to barges at the port. The coal would then be transferred to vessels at the Port St. Helens and shipped to Asian countries such as Japan and South Korea.

The facility, which would be run by a subsidiary of Ambre Energy North America, would create 25 jobs with wages and benefits of $2.7 million per year with average salaries of $50,000 to $90,000, according to Ambre.

Morrow Pacific is just one of about eight coal-to-Asia shipping projects in the works or under review in the Pacific Northwest, including at the Port of St. Helens and Port of Coos Bay in Oregon and the Port of Grays Harbor in Washington.

Port of Seattle Completes Land Sale

The Port of Seattle has finalized the sale of mile of a former BNSF track in Bellevue to the Central Puget Sound Regional Transit Authority for the construction of a light rail project.

The Transit Authority, commonly known as Sound Transit, also receives easements for future access to 37 miles of the planned Eastside rail corridor under the deal.

“By partnering with agencies like Sound Transit, the port has been able to protect a rail corridor that could prove crucial to the region’s future growth,” Port of Seattle Commission President Gael Tarleton said in a statement announcing the sale’s finalization.

Sound Transit is paying the port $13.8 million under the agreement in order to start work on the East Link light rail.

The 37-mile easement gives Sound Transit the ability to consider future voter-approved rail transit investments between Woodinville and Renton. Sound Transit would need to build new tracks to support the safety features and operating speeds needed for passenger rail service.

In addition to the easement, Sound Transit also received rights to access the portion of the rail corridor located within Redmond’s city limits, allowing for future construction of a light rail extension between the city’s Overlake and downtown areas.

“This transaction not only acquires essential property for East Link, but secures easements that could reduce the costs of future transit expansions,” Sound Transit Board Chair and Pierce County Executive Pat McCarthy said.

Port of Stockton Gets 1st Female Board Chair

Elizabeth Blanchard has been elected chair of the Port of Stockton’s Board of Commissioners, becoming the first female chair in the seven-member board’s history.

“I am pleased to accept this appointment,” Blanchard said. “I have an extensive working knowledge and understanding of the Port’s vital role in the economics of our region and will work diligently to serve the diverse stakeholders, community and business.”

Blanchard, who holds a doctorate in psychology from the University of the Pacific, is a retired San Joaquin Delta College psychology teacher and a former member of the San Joaquin County Planning Commission.

She first became a commissioner in 2008 and was reappointed to another four-year term by the San Joaquin Board of Supervisors in January 2012. She’s one of three commissioners appointed by the Supervisors; the other four are appointed by the Stockton City Council.

Blanchard began her one-year term as commission chair April 16. During the same meeting, commissioner Stephen Griffen, a longshoreman and local business owner, was elected the board’s vice-chair.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Bioretention to Meet Port Water Quality Goals

By Kim Slack, PE

The Port of Vancouver, USA operates more than 800 acres of industrial and marine transportation property with about 50 tenants. Primarily used for exports, the Port’s five marine terminals are used for the trade of bulk, break bulk, automobiles, and a variety of special project cargoes with Japan, Southeast Asia, China, South America, Europe, and Egypt. About 16 percent of US wheat exports are shipped through the port, which also provides one of Subaru’s two points of entry on the West Coast.

Providing permanent treatment Best Management Practices (BMPs) for stormwater runoff was required when the port developed its 50-acre Terminal 2 facility for the handling and staging of marine cargo in 1999. The port constructed a parallel bioswale to treat stormwater runoff from Terminal 2 in accordance with the City of Vancouver’s Phase II Municipal Stormwater Permit requirements. In Washington, many industries including ports are required to monitor their stormwater discharges and compare monitoring results to benchmark levels included in the State of Washington Department of Ecology Industrial Stormwater General Permit (ISGP). Sampling results showed over time that the bioswale was not performing up to ISGP benchmark levels so the port took corrective action.

Kennedy/Jenks Consultants worked with the port to analyze several supplementary treatment alternatives, and recommended installation of a high flow bypass and conversion of the bioswale system to a bioretention system. The port constructed the bioretention system in late 2009. Effluent water quality data collected in 2010, 2011, and the first quarter of 2012 has shown vastly improved removal of total and dissolved copper, zinc, and turbidity when compared to the previous bioswale system.

Terminal 2 Activities and Water Quality Challenges
Terminal 2 contains four berths and approximately 50 acres of paved area used for the handling and staging of marine cargo, including bulk, breakbulk, wind turbine components, equipment, and mobile harbor cranes. Within Terminal 2 is a handling area for the export of recycled scrap metal. While stormwater runoff from this area is treated separately and discharges to the municipal sewer system, truck dragout and fugitive emissions from the process frequently reach surrounding areas at Terminal 2.

With the exception of some tenants’ individual stormwater permit coverage areas, stormwater discharges from Terminal 2 are covered under the ISGP. The ISGP requires quarterly monitoring of turbidity, pH, oil sheen, total copper, and total zinc in stormwater discharge against established benchmark values. Water quality data collected from the bioswale effluent from 2003 to 2009 showed good removal of solids and oil/grease, but poor removal of metals and turbidity.

Bioswale-Bioretention Conversion
In response to having exceeded these benchmarks and in preparation for increasing cargo volumes and new commodities to be handled at Terminal 2, the port initiated a Level 3 Corrective Action to re-evaluate the treatment of stormwater runoff from Terminal 2. Kennedy/Jenks Consultants conducted an analysis of Terminal 2’s drainage and treatment system and provided four alternative corrective actions. These alternatives included rehabilitation of the existing bioswale, conversion of the bioswale to a bioretention system with a high flow bypass, installation of a stormwater filtration system downstream of the bioswale, and installation of an active stormwater treatment system downstream of the bioswale.

The port elected to convert the bioswale to a bioretention system, which would offer hydrologic and water quality benefits through the retention of runoff, evapotranspiration, and plant uptake of the metals that have proved to be so problematic and prevalent in industrial stormwater runoff. Further water quality testing of the facility’s influent and effluent flow, including both total and dissolved fractions of metals, was also recommended to more fully assess the site’s treatment needs.

The Terminal 2 bioswale was converted to a bioretention system in December 2009. The bioretention system was designed to treat up to and including the water quality flow rate defined as the flow rate at or below which 91 percent of the runoff volume, as estimated by an approved continuous runoff model, will be treated as required by Ecology and City of Vancouver standards. A high flow bypass structure was installed upstream so that flows exceeding the water quality flow rate are diverted directly to the system’s effluent piping.

Treatment flows first enter the upgraded system through CleanWay MetalZorb® media inserts installed in the system’s two inlet pipes for preliminary metals removal through ion absorption and filtration. An inlet bay with an oil boom installed along its perimeter then collects runoff and provides preliminary sedimentation and oil reduction. Flow is then dispersed evenly across the facility’s 12,500 square feet of surface area and infiltrated through 30 inches of engineered soil media, which was specified in final design as gravelly sand with 40 percent compost by volume to be mixed until a minimum infiltration rate of 20 inches per hour is achieved.

The surface of the bioretention system was planted with common and spreading rushes, Columbia sedges, and New Zealand orange sedges, which are particularly suited for metals uptake in the Pacific Northwest environment. The system design allows for ponding of the treatment flows to a depth of one foot in the facility, and 3 catch basins installed along the outlet end provide internal bypass drainage for depths exceeding one foot. All three internal bypass catch basins are equipped with CleanWay MetalZorb® inserts to provide treatment for bypassed flows.

As silty soils exist beneath the facility severely limiting infiltration, 8-inch perforated PVC underdrain piping installed beneath the engineered treatment media collects and discharges treated runoff through the existing outfall to the Columbia River.

Initial performance of the bioretention system saw “bathtub” conditions following irregular heavy rains that occurred during the 2009-2010 winter season, indicating that infiltration capacity of the media blend that was initially installed was insufficient to handle high flows. This caused ponding to occur up to the internal bypass catch basins, so most runoff passed through the system in bypass mode. During this time, an infiltration rate of approximately one-sixteenth of an inch per hour was estimated. After the heavy rains had passed and the ponding had subsided, plant plugs were found uprooted and deposited around the internal bypass catch basins. Post-construction soil testing indicated that the engineered soil blend was nearly 90% compost by volume, rather than 40% as specified. These conditions were rectified in August 2010 by the removal and re-installation of the plants and infiltration media, ensuring the originally specified compost ratio.

Although much of the preliminary influent and effluent water quality testing was conducted during bypass conditions, the data shows good removal efficiency for turbidity and metals. Additional influent and effluent testing for dissolved metals will be conducted as the site activities occurring in Terminal 2 continue to evolve to more fully assess the system’s treatment efficiency. 2011 and early 2012 quarterly monitoring under the port’s ISGP requirements shows effluent concentrations of turbidity, copper, and zinc below benchmark values.

The construction project to convert the existing bioswale to a bioretention system took 62 days and required a city grading permit and stormwater plan review. The project was completed according to the State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) process. Final design and permitting costs were approximately $43,700 and the final construction cost was approximately $246,700.

Largest of its Kind
The Port of Vancouver should be commended for its vision in development of this ground breaking retrofit project. The Terminal 2 bioretention system is the largest facility of its kind known to exist and represents one of the first port facilities implementing Low Impact Development technology to treat runoff from a large marine terminal. The early success of the system in reducing concentrations of difficult to control metals in stormwater runoff has piqued the interest of the Department of Ecology and is the model for other large bioretention facilities being designed for other northwest Port industrial properties at the Ports of Tacoma and Seattle.

This article was originally published in the February 15 issue of The Water Report (

Kim Slack is a civil/environmental engineer with the Portland office of Kennedy/Jenks Consultants, Inc., an engineering and environmental consulting firm. She is experienced in the design of stormwater treatment, detention, and retention systems. She received a Bachelor of Science in civil engineering from Montana State University and is a registered engineer in the state of Oregon.

Maersk Shipping Patriarch Dies

Danish businessman Maersk McKinney Moeller, patriarch of the AP Moeller-Maersk shipping conglomerate, died in Copenhagen April 16. He was 98.

“On behalf of the entire family, I wish to express our deep sorrow at the loss of our father, grandfather and great grandfather, Maersk McKinney Moeller,” his daughter, Ane Maersk McKinney Uggla, said in a statement released by the family. “My sisters and I have lost a father who never failed neither his family nor his business.”

Moeller, who joined his family’s company in 1940 when it was known as Firmaet AP Moeller, helped transform it into the largest shipping business in the world. The company, which was founded in 1904 by Moeller’s grandfather, former sea captain Peter Maersk Moller, gradually grew and diversified over the decades. Maersk McKinney Moller became the company’s chairman and chief executive after the death of his father, Peter Maersk Moeller, in 1965.

Currently, AP Moeller-Maersk handles 15 percent of the manufactured goods around the world that are shipped by sea, according to industry estimates. The group employs about 117,000 people in 130 countries, and owns numerous subsidiary shipping and energy companies, including Maersk Line, Safmarine, Damco and the independently operated APM Terminals.

Moller, who was last seen publicly at his company’s annual general meeting in Denmark on April 12, stepped down as chair of the company in 2003, but still played a role in the day to day operations of the conglomerate until his death.

He is survived by three daughters, Ane Maersk McKinney Uggla, Leise Maersk McKinney Moeller and Kirsten McKinney Moeller Olufsen.

Port of Long Beach Sees Monthly Volume Gains

The number of inbound and outbound full containers that moved through the Port of Long Beach last month, as well as the number empties shipped, all grew last month compared with the same period last year, according to newly released data from the port.

Inbound container volume at the Port of Long Beach climbed over 18 percent to 226,141 20-foot equivalent units, and loaded outbound containers rose by nearly 10 percent, to 144,838 TEUs in March 2012 compared to the same period a year ago.

A total of 90,611 empty containers moved through the port in March, a 1.5 percent bump over last March. In total, port terminals handled 461,600 TEUs last month, compared to 412,250 TEUs in March 2011.

Overall container volume through Long Beach was up almost 12 percent for the month, according to the port’s numbers, rising from 412,235 during the first three months of 2011 to 461,590 during the same period this year.

But even with last month’s growth, container volumes at the port are down over nine percent for the fiscal year to date compared to the same period last year, falling from three million TEUs to 2.76 million. Long Beach’s fiscal year runs from Oct. 1 through Sept. 30.

During Long Beach’s annual peak season forecast event March 28, however, analysts said they expect modest growth in trade volume during this year’s peak shipping season of mid-summer and fall, particularly when it comes to international exports.

Full Container Traffic Rises at Port of Oakland

The volume of full cargo containers imported and exported through the Port of Oakland rose in March 2012 compared with the same period last year, according to newly released data.

The number of full imports climbed 8.2 percent and exports rose 2.4 percent, to 62,854 20-foot equivalent units and 91,635 TEUs respectively, according to the port.
The bad news for Oakland is that the gains were offset by significant declines in the number of inbound and outbound empty containers.

Empty exports dropped by 10.2 percent to 17,033 TEUs during the month, while the number of empty imports fell to 25,835 during March, a fall of a whopping 16.2 percent compared with the same month in 2011.

When added up, the gains and losses in volume amounted to a flat increase of 0.2 percent in traffic volume for the month.

Oakland’s year-to-date numbers follow the monthly trend of increases in full container volumes and decreases in empties. During the first three months of the year, Oakland’s volume of full, inbound containers is up two percent compared with the same three months in 2011, while the number of full exports is up 4.3 percent.

Conversely, according to the port’s data, the number of empty exports and imports are down 8.9 percent and five percent, respectively. For the calendar year to date, the port’s total container volume is 559,987 TEUs, a drop of 0.9 percent compared with the same three months in 2011.

Port of Kalama Seeks Commission Vacancy Applicants

The Port of Kalama is moving forward with an appointment process to fill a vacancy on its three-member Board of Commissioners caused by the death of longtime commissioner Jim Lucas.

Local residents interested in representing District No. 2 on the Kalama Port Commission can send a letter of interest to Executive Director Lanny Cawley at 380 W Marine Drive, Kalama, WA 98625.

Applicants are required reside and be a legally registered voter in Kalama Port District No. 2, and letters of interest must include the applicant’s registered voting address.

Completed applications must be received by the port no later than 5 p.m. Mon., April 30, 2012 for consideration. Upon receipt of the letter of interest, applicants will receive an application packet to be filled out and submitted to the port.

The person ultimately appointed to the seat will be required to attend Board of Commission meetings at 5:30 pm on the second and fourth Wednesdays of each month, as well as occasional special meetings. The appointee is to hold the seat until the expiration of Lucas’ current term in November 2013, at which time an open election for the seat would be held.

Lucas served as a port commissioner from 1984 until he died April 4, 2012 from cancer-related health complications.

The Port of Kalama, which is located in southwest Washington on the Columbia River, is 30 miles northwest of Portland, Oregon and about 120 miles south of Seattle.