Friday, June 15, 2012

Port of Portland Files Labor Charge with NLRB

The Port of Portland has filed an unfair labor practice charge with the National Labor Relations Board in reaction to a dispute between two unions that has disrupted work at the port’s Terminal 6 container facility.

The matter involves a labor jurisdictional claim by the International Longshore and Warehouse Union to claim work through the District Council of Trade Unions that’s historically been performed by another union – the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers. The disputed jobs involve plugging/unplugging and monitoring refrigerated containers at Terminal 6, which is operated by ICTSI Oregon.

The charge was filed by the port June 8, two days after the conflict led to a work slowdown at Terminal 6, which has sometimes resulted in incoming drayage trucks either being kept waiting in line for hours or turned away at the terminal.

“Recent work actions by members of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 8 have significantly impacted container operations at Terminal 6 causing costly delays for area shippers and truckers,” the port said in a statement released following the NLRB filing.

The NLRB has already conducted a hearing regarding the jurisdictional matter, but a decision’s still pending.

“As parties await a ruling (from the NLRB), recent work slowdowns and labor disruptions continue to affect truckers, shippers and carriers who depend on the terminal to move their cargo,” the port said in its statement. “This includes over 1,000 businesses that use Terminal 6 to get their goods to and from international markets, and a multitude of inland agricultural exporters."

The dispute is similar to one last year at the Port of Longview where ILWU Local 21 had sought to assume work at a new grain terminal that was originally designated for a different union. Unlike the Longview situation, however, the work in question at Terminal 6 has been performed by the IBEW under a collective bargaining agreement with the port since commencement of terminal operations in the early 1970s.

And in fact, when the port transitioned control of container terminal operations to ICTSI Oregon under a 25-year lease in 2011, continuation of the IBEW work was included in the lease terms.
The port says it plans to stick with its established contractual obligations to both unions.

“We are committed to working with ICTSI Oregon to uphold all our existing collective bargaining commitments with the IBEW and the ILWU,” the Port of Portland’s Chief Commercial officer, Sam Ruda, said.

POLB Again Named Best North American Seaport

For the 15th time in the past 17 years, the Port of Long Beach was named the best seaport in North America during the 2012 Asian Freight and Supply Chain Awards in Shanghai.
Long Beach’s recognition as the best on the continent comes via a survey of importers, exporters, logistics and supply chain professionals by transport and logistics newspaper Cargonews Asia, which organizes the awards.

“We are honored to be recognized by the maritime industry,” Port of Long Beach Executive Director Chris Lytle said. “We strive to offer the best facilities and customer service in the world and we thank you for your recognition. We continue to aim high and invest in our future.”
Long Beach beat nine other nominees, including four on the West Coast: the ports of Los Angeles, Oakland, Seattle and Vancouver.

The annual Asian Freight and Supply Chain Awards ceremony, known informally as the Shippers’ Choice awards, is based on an annual poll of thousands of professionals in freight transportation services. It’s a highly regarded distinction in the industry, and awards also are given in other categories, including best shipping lines, container terminals, air cargo terminals, airports and rail haulers.

Among the other winners named during the June 5 event were Maersk Line, which won the Best Global Shipping Line Award, Hamburg Sud, which received the Best Green Shipping Line award and APL Logistics, which won the award for Best Sea Freight Logistics Service Provider.
Additionally, DB Schenker was named Best Green Logistics Operator and PSA received the award for Best Global Container Terminal Operation Company.

A full list of the nominees and winners in each category can be seen at

West Sacramento Port Moves Forward with Rail Project

The Port of West Sacramento has closed escrow on a 19-acre parcel of land that is slated to be developed into two separate projects: a rail loop and renewable fuels facility.

Sierra Northern Railway will build the loop track using $960,000 in federal rail improvement grant funds awarded to the port. Port and railway officials say the rail loop should allow port workers to load and unload rail cars more quickly and efficiently.

“This new loop track is a huge advance for the port,” Yolo County Supervisor and Sacramento-Yolo Port Commission Chair Mike McGowan said in a statement regarding the transaction. “We'll be able to … reduce rail impacts in West Sacramento.”

The renewables facility will produce biomass diesel from local municipal solid waste. Officials say the fuels facility would eventually produce 365,000 gallons of renewable diesel that would be blended with conventional diesel.

SacPort Biofuels Corp. is expected to develop a gasification process at its Port of West Sacramento facility to use landfill-bound green refuse, construction waste and plastics.

The acreage for the projects was transferred by the port to Sierra Northern June 11 for development. Both facilities are expected to be built within the next year.

Port of San Diego Seeks Land Development Input

The Port of San Diego is seeking ideas for the possible future development and preservation of 95 acres of undeveloped land on the shore of south San Diego Bay.

A meeting where interested parties can learn how to submit their project ideas for the land, which is known as Pond 20, is scheduled for 4:30 pm to 6 pm Mon., June 25, 2012 in the Dempsey Holder Safety Center, 950 Ocean Lane, Imperial Beach.

Information will also be available during the meeting on previous studies related to the area and comments the Port District already has received.

Pond 20 was purchased by the Port of San Diego about 14 years ago as part of an 836-acre land acquisition, but it wasn’t until earlier this year that the Board of Port Commissioners and the cities of San Diego and Imperial Beach approved an agreement to explore possible uses for the area.
The land is located in the City of San Diego but is included as part of the City of Imperial Beach Redevelopment Area. The Port District will consider all project concepts in conjunction with the cities of San Diego and Imperial Beach.

Conceptual plans may also be submitted directly to the Port District by 2 pm, Fri., Aug. 24, 2012. Letters may be submitted to: Pond 20 Letters of Interest, San Diego Unified Port District
Government Relations, P.O. Box 120488, San Diego, Calif. 92112-0488, Attn: Michelle White.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

East Coast Gateways Continue Expansion

By Jim Shaw

Looking at a slow but steady economic recovery, and the potential for more cargo following the enlargement of the Panama Canal, East Coast ports from the Great Lakes to the tip of Florida are modernizing and expanding facilities. They are also going green, with the Massachusetts Port Authority recently joining the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey and the South Carolina Ports Authority in implementing a Clean-Truck program. In addition, the development of offshore wind power is drawing attention and the South Jersey Port Corporation has started construction of a new terminal that will specifically target this emerging market. In the north, a resurgent US auto manufacturing industry and purchases by China are driving up demand for iron ore, a trend that is seeing substantial mining activity taking place along the Mesabi Range and in Eastern Canada. This has already generated expansion plans at Quebec’s Port of Sept-Îles and the possibility of new construction at Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario.

At the same time, US ports are gearing up for the larger size of “Panamax” ships that will be allowed by bigger locks at the Panama Canal. This has seen a number of harbor deepening initiatives launched as well as the expansion of docking facilities. It has also seen the Port of New York & New Jersey launch a billion-dollar project to raise the Bayonne Bridge while the Port of Miami is tunneling under its main navigation channel at a similar cost. It remains to be seen how much extra business the enlarged Canal will generate for these efforts but most East Coast gateways feel some West Coast traffic can be diverted.

Great Lakes St. Lawrence Recovery
Although few containers are funneled in and out of the Great Lakes, cargo shipments along the Great Lakes St. Lawrence Seaway totaled over 37.5 million tons in 2011, a modest upswing from 2010. This year marks the Seaway’s 54th shipping season and the St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation expects about 38.6 million tons of cargo to be moved. This would represent a near 3 percent increase over last year, with coal exports expected to account for most of the additional tonnage. Exports of coal have been boosted by producers in the Rocky Mountains region sending coal by rail to Lake Superior ports where the commodity is loaded on to Lake freighters for transportation to deepwater ports on the lower St. Lawrence. From there the coal is transshipped to ocean-going vessels for movement to Europe and Asia. Ore cargoes on the Lakes and along the St. Lawrence have been up recently because of additional purchases by China as well as a resurgent US auto manufacturing sector.

“The mood in the industry is that we are moving in the right direction,” said Glen Nekvasil, vice president of the Lake Carriers’ Association (LCA), a trade group representing 17 US lines active on the Lakes. “We have seen iron ore and limestone rebound and in the case of iron ore, it has rebounded very nicely.” Nekvasil added that shipments handled by the Association’s member vessels were about 27 percent ahead of the 5-year average through this year’s first quarter.

Ore Rebounds
Several mining projects currently being developed in the Great Lakes region and along the lower St. Lawrence are expected to continue boosting iron ore movements. India’s Essar group plans to open new capacity at its iron ore pellet plant in Minnesota later this year, which will increase total output capacity to around 7 million tons annually. Most of this production will be sent to the group’s Essar Steel Algoma plant in Canada but about 1 million tons will be available for disposal on the open market. Another international firm, Luxembourg-based ArcelorMittal, plans to invest over $2 billion to expand its iron ore facilities at Mont-Wright, Quebec in order to produce 24 million tons of iron ore concentrate annually. This will be a major increase over the 14 million tons the facility currently produces.

As the world’s largest steel producer, ArcelorMittal has already acquired considerable assets in Canada, including the former Dofasco steel-making facilities in Hamilton, Ontario and the Baffinland Iron Mines Corporation operations in Nunavut. US-based Cliffs Natural Resources also has its eyes on expansion after acquiring the former Consolidated Thompson Bloom Lake iron-ore operations in eastern Canada for $4.9 billion last year.

Bloom Mine to Bloom
The Bloom Lake mine, in which China’s Wuhan Iron and Steel Group is an investor, shipped its first concentrate in mid-2010 and is expected to reach its targeted production rate of 8 million tons annually by the end of this year. However, Cliffs Natural Resources CEO Joseph Carrabba said feasibility studies are now being undertaken to see if it would be worthwhile to expand the mine’s iron-ore production to 24 million tons per year. If so, Cliffs will invest around $600 million in the project, which could be completed by as early as 2016. Construction is already underway at the site to boost production to 16 million tons per year over the next two years, with first-phase expansion expected to be completed by the second-half of next year.

The expansion is considered “strategic” as the Bloom Lake mine is located about 20 miles from Cliffs’ existing operations at Wabush, Canada where a 5.6 million ton per annum iron-ore pellet operation with integrated rail and port infrastructure is already in place. The company believes the existing rail and terminal network there will support the Bloom increase to 24 million tons, although some infrastructure enhancement will be required. The rapid growth of ore production in eastern Canada has already pressured the Canadian government to invest in new facilities at Quebec’s Port of Sept-Îles, where ore producer MillenniumTata plans to construct a $1 billion pelletizing plant.

NY&NJ: Higher Bridge, Deeper Channel
South of the St. Lawrence, in New York state, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (NY&NJ) plans to spend $345.9 million on seaport projects and another $15.2 million on work related to the planned elevation of the Bayonne Bridge this year as it works to expand and modernize facilities.

The largest amount of spending, $87.4 million, will go for the development of the Global Terminal on the Port Jersey Peninsula in Bayonne and Jersey City where additional money will be spent to improve intermodal rail and road connections to the 98-acre cargo facility. The second-largest capital project will see $58.3 million spent on the development of a new rail ramp at the Greenville freight yards, which the authority acquired in 2010. Another $36.3 million will go to funding capital projects at the New York Container Terminal on Staten Island, which will require approximately $30 million in dredging, while $12.4 million will be spent to revive portions of the aging Brooklyn Marine Terminal in Brooklyn.

The two major long-term projects for NY&NJ will be raising the Bayonne Bridge and deepening the harbor, with the Port Authority recently applying to the federal government for “fast-track” environmental permitting for the bridge-raising. This could shave six months off the billion-dollar project, which will raise the roadway to 215 feet to allow taller container ships to pass under, but would still mean that the raising will not be completed until 2016, two years after the Panama Canal enlargement.

New Port for New Jersey
In South New Jersey work is continuing on construction of the Paulsboro Marine Terminal, which is being sited across the Delaware River from the Philadelphia International Airport. The South Jersey Port Corporation (SJPC) and the Gloucester County Improvement Authority are developing the facility, largely on speculation, with the state providing approximately $200 million in funding. To date, about $70 million has been spent to clear the site, construct a shoreside retaining wall and raise the site elevation using some 300,000 cubic yards of fill material. Later this month bids will be advertised to construct the main wharf, which will be followed by new equipment purchases.
Kevin Castagnola, executive director and CEO of the SJPC, has stated that about $65 million in construction and equipment-supply contracts will be executed before the end of the year. When completed late next year the terminal will encompass a total of 190 acres and feature three berths designed for both breakbulk and project cargo handling. Castagnola said port officials have been talking to several potential tenants, including offshore wind farm developers, about using the new facility. He noted that eleven private offshore wind farm developers are already considering developing farms that would total more than 12,000 megawatts of capacity off New Jersey’s coast.

Georgia and South Carolina Duel
In the South Atlantic range the states of South Carolina and Georgia have been dueling for dredging funds and it appears that Georgia may have come up the winner. In mid-April the US Army Corps of Engineers, after a decade of research, reached the conclusion that the proposed $652 million deepening of the Savannah River shipping channel by five feet, from 42 feet to 47 feet, is economically viable, environmentally sustainable and is in the best interest of the country. According to Col. Jeff Hall, commander of the Corps’ Savannah District, the project, which has been given a benefit-to-cost ratio of 5.5 to 1, could be completed by the fourth quarter of 2016. The state of Georgia has already set aside $180 million for the job but the remaining$472 million will have to come from federal funds.

In addition, there are several groups in neighboring South Carolina who see the deepening of the river as a threat to that state’s Port of Charleston, which is also searching for dredging funds. Charleston harbor currently has a draft of 45 feet but port officials would like to see it deepened to 50 feet and South Carolina lawmakers have been considering a bond measure to get the work jump-started. Container volume at the South Carolina gateway during the first quarter of this year was the highest it’s been since the summer of 2009, registering a 7 percent jump – and a 12 percent jump in March alone.

More Lift in Florida
While South Carolina and Georgia duel to the north, Florida ports are laying track, deepening channels and adding new box handling capacity. Last year the Port of Jacksonville added two new Chinese-built container cranes to its Blount Island Marine Terminal at a cost of more than $10 million. This has brought the terminal’s container crane count up to eight, with the latest units standing 165 feet tall with a lifting capacity of 50 tons. In south Florida, Seaboard Marine has added two more Liebherr-built LMH400 mobile harbor cranes to its facility at the Port of Miami, each having an outreach of 148 feet and a maximum capacity of 115 short tons. The new machines are allowing Seaboard to handle boxes up to 13 across on container vessels as well as bulk products and breakbulk cargoes.

New cargo handling equipment is also being added to a 25-acre marine cargo terminal recently brought on line by SeaFreight Agencies at Port Everglades, Florida following the signing of a ten-year lease agreement. The facility is located within a 41-acre containerized cargo area opened at the port last year following a $12.3 million investment. The site will eventually be connected to an Intermodal Container Transfer Facility (ICTF) to be built near the port by the Florida East Coast Railway (FECR) at a cost of $72 million. The ICTF is due to become operational by the beginning of 2014 following completion of a required $53 million highway overpass.

Laying Track and Tunneling Under
The Port of Miami is also gaining additional intermodal rail capacity as the FECR completes construction of a 4.2-mile extension that will link the port to the railroad’s Hialeah switching yard and its mainline running north to Jacksonville. The new connection, being built at a cost of $22 million, will allow the FECR to transport port cargo, including containers, to northern Florida for interchange with trains moving to and from other parts of the nation. As the rail project nears completion the construction of a new tunnel to the port’s Dodge Island terminals is just getting started (see Pacific Maritime Magazine, March 2012).

Public concern over material disposal sites had delayed the project at the start of the year but trucks are now moving some 280,000 cubic yards of tunnel spoils from Watson Island to nearby Virginia Key under a $1 billion project being overseen by Miami Access Tunnel LLC (MAT). The tunneling, expected to be completed in 2015, will see two parallel highway tunnel bores constructed between Watson Island and Dodge Island big enough for heavy trucks but low enough to allow the port’s main navigation channel to be deepened, with the Corps of Engineers having a permit to widen the channel’s entrance by some 300 feet and deepen it by as much as 52 feet. Miami, which has four post-Panamax container cranes on order with China’s Shanghai Zhenhua Heavy Industries, moved in excess of 900,000 TEUs last year, ranking it No. 11 in the nation.

Port of Seattle Cop Named Naval Reserve Sailor of Year

Port of Seattle police Sgt. Douglas Newman has been named the US Naval Reserve’s Navy Reserve Sailor of the Year.

Newman, a 16-year department veteran, has held numerous positions in the POSPD, including creating and supervising the department’s gang unit. He is also a Master-at-Arms Chief Petty Officer in the USNR and is the Senior Enlisted Leader for Naval Security Forces at Navy Base, Kitsap.

Newman, who previously served in the US Marine Corps and National Guard during the 1990s, enlisted in the Navy Reserve in 2001.

“I’m very lucky because I’m able to be a Master-at-Arms in one community and a civilian police officer in the other. What I learn in one field, I carry over to the next field,” Newman said in a statement released by the Naval Reserves. “Whether it’s a civilian police officer that I work with, or a sailor that I drill with, I have to (think) about their morale and welfare to get the mission done.”

Newman, who has previously received numerous other military awards, including the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, Operation Iraqi Freedom Campaign Medal and Military Outstanding Volunteer Medal, was recognized by the Port of Seattle Commission during its June 5 meeting.

“Sergeant Newman exemplifies excellence in service,” Commission President Gael Tarleton said. “We are honored to support his commitment to the Navy Reserves and fortunate to have someone of his skills on our police force.”

LA/Long Beach Container Fees to Rise

A 2.5 percent increase in the traffic mitigation charge placed on containers moving through the Los Angeles and Long Beach ports will be implemented beginning Aug. 1, 2012, the West Coast MTO Agreement, which administers the fee, has announced.

Starting in August, the fee will rise to $61.50 per 20-foot-equivalent unit and $123 per forty-foot container, from the current rates of $60 and $120, respectively.

The WCMTOA, a collective of terminal operators, says the increase is being put into place in order to address increases in labor costs that take effect July 1.

The mitigation fee, which dates back to 2005, helps pay for the night and weekend marine terminal shifts created by the PierPass OffPeak program to relieve daytime congestion in and around the ports.
It also provides a financial incentive to move cargo during less congested times. The fee is charged for non-exempt containers moving during the peak hours of Monday through Friday from 3 am to 6 pm.

On Aug. 1, 2011, the fee increased for the first time since 2006. The $10 per TEU upsurge came after hourly labor costs increased more than 31 percent for the same period. It was at that time that the WCMTOA announced that beginning in mid-2012 it would begin adjusting the fee annually to address labor cost increases.

The terminal operators say they’ve operated the OffPeak program at a loss since the program’s 2005 inception, when they doubled the number of shifts per week, thereby essentially spreading the same number of containers over twice the working hours.

The shortfall between traffic mitigation revenues and OffPeak gate costs was $55 million in 2011 and $52.3 million in 2010, with cargo volume having been essentially flat since 2005, according to the terminal operators group.

However, also since 2005, the PierPass OffPeak program has helped achieve the goal of reducing traffic congestion in and around the ports during daytime business hours. Off hours gates have grown to handle about 55 percent of all container traffic at the ports, according to the WCMTOA.

For more information on the traffic mitigation fees or PierPass program, visit

POLA Approves Major Expansion Project

The Los Angeles Harbor Commission has certified the final Environmental Impact Report for the proposed expansion of Berths 302-306 and approved the $196 million project, which would renovate and modernize the 300-acre container terminal.

The facility, commonly known as Pier 300, is the port’s second largest and is operated by long-time tenant Eagle Marine Services, a subsidiary of ocean carrier APL.

Much of the work on the terminal will be at Berth 306, where the port is expected to add 1,250 feet of new wharf and 41 acres of backlands on existing fill. Eagle Marine Services will add eight state-of-the-art gantry cranes, bringing the total number of cranes at the terminal to 24.

“This project strengthens APL’s ability to continue providing the level and quality of service to meet our customers’ needs into the future,” Gene Seroka, APL’s Regional President of the Americas, said of the expansion.

Other major elements include gate and lane upgrades to include a new exit gate; improved access and internal circulation for trucks to pick up and deliver cargo more efficiently; a dedicated refrigerated container storage area; renovated maintenance and new office facilities; and modern backland design and infrastructure that could support automated operations in the future.

Environmentally friendly innovations include equipping the entire terminal with shoreside power electrical infrastructure to eliminate emissions from ships at berth.

The project’s expected to maximize use of the property by allowing APL to handle nearly 58 percent more ship calls and accommodate more than 65 percent more cargo, while growing the terminal footprint by less than 20 percent. The percentages translate into up to 390 ship calls and the capacity to move more than 3.2 million 20-foot equivalent units annually by 2027 on the 347-acre terminal, according to the port.

The two-year redevelopment project, which is slated to begin in late 2012, is expected to generate nearly 3,400 jobs during construction and add nearly 8,000 permanent direct and indirect jobs to the Southern California economy over the next 15 years, according to APL.

Port of LA Adopts Reduced Budget

The Los Angeles Harbor Commission June 7 adopted a 2012-13 fiscal year budget of about $954 million for the Port of Los Angeles, representing a 2.3 percent, or $22.5 million, decrease from the present fiscal year’s budget.

The financial plan, which goes into effect July 1, 2012, reflects the port’s conservative estimates of relatively flat operating revenues.

The port’s 2012-13 budget anticipates operating revenues of $398.6 million, about the same as the current fiscal year. However, it also projects an $8.3 million, or 4 percent, increase in total estimated expenditures above the current fiscal year. But despite the increase, total expenditures for 2012-13 remain lower than the 2011-12 budget.

Among the specifics: a capital budget of $285.7 million has been approved; infrastructure investments for fiscal year 2012-13 include $132 million in development projects at existing terminals such as the TraPac Container Terminal, the China Shipping Container Terminal and the APL facility at Berths 301-306.

Another $80.4 million is allocated for transportation projects to improve the movement of goods and vehicular traffic within the port and on surrounding roads and highways, and $19.2 million is dedicated to LA waterfront development projects.

The port also anticipates dedicating about $16.1 million to environmental programs and initiatives, including $6.3 million will be spent on Clean Air Action Plan measures, which include $2 million for the port’s vessel speed reduction program and a $1.5 million investment in a technology advancement program to advance green innovation.

LA’s reduced budget is in contrast with the Port of Long Beach, which recently approved a fiscal year 2012-13 budget that’s 12 percent larger than its current budget. The Long Beach budget, however, is $942 million, $12 million less than LA’s. Long Beach’s fiscal year begins Oct. 1.

An overview of the Port of LA’s budget can be seen at