Friday, November 2, 2012

Maritime-Related Pollution Down in Puget Sound

Maritime-related air pollution in the Puget Sound region has decreased by as much as 40 percent between 2005 and 2011, according to a new report released by a consortium of Pacific Northwest businesses and government agencies.

Volatile organic compounds were reduced by 40 percent according to the study, which was conducted by the Puget Sound Maritime Air Forum. Other pollutants, including nitrogen oxides, sulfur oxides, particulate matter, fine particulate matter and diesel particulate matter, were all down between 14 and 16 percent.

The study area covered the U.S. portion of the Puget Sound/Georgia Basin International Airshed, an area about 140 miles long by 160 miles wide.

The inventory, conducted by the Puget Sound Maritime Air Forum, focused on pollutants related to ships, harbor vessels, cargo-handling equipment, rail, heavy-duty trucks and other fleet vehicles associated with maritime activities.

Much of the clean air progress is due to significant, voluntary investments of the maritime industry and government agencies in cleaner technology, cleaner fuels and more efficient systems of operation.

The maritime industry has adopted a number of voluntary initiatives to reduce emissions, including switching to low-sulfur or biodiesel fuels, using shore power, replacing or retrofitting older engines and improving systems to use equipment more efficiently.

The Maritime Air Forum, a voluntary association of private and public maritime organizations, ports, air agencies, environmental and public health advocacy groups and other parties with operational or regulatory responsibilities related to the maritime industry.

More than two-dozen entities are member of the Maritime Air Forum, including the ports of Seattle, Tacoma, Everett and Olympia, as well as the Union Pacific and BNSF railways and various state and federal government agencies, including the Washington State Dept. of Transportation and U.S. Coast Guard.

“The results of the 2011 Emissions Inventory are significant, with substantial pollution reductions across the board for the Port of Seattle,” port commission President Gael Tarleton said. “The Seattle Port Commission has been committed to finding answers that will inform our decisions for years to come.”

Regarding diesel particulate matter emissions, they were down by 52 percent in heavy-duty vehicles, 47 percent in fleet vehicles, 40 percent in cargo-handling equipment, 24 percent in locomotives and 16 percent in ocean-going vessels, according to the survey.

However, diesel particulate emanating from harbor vessels actually increased seven percent, something the study say was likely due to a 12 percent increase in boat traffic, as well as an increase in the use of larger engines, which have higher emissions.

Port of New York-New Jersey Closed Indefinitely

The Port of New York-New Jersey has been closed indefinitely due to Hurricane Sandy, which ravaged the area earlier this week.

“Port Authority staff and engineers remain on site at all Port Authority facilities to inspect conditions and assess damage,” the Port Authority of New York-New Jersey said in an Oct. 31 news release regarding the seaport’s status. “Our primary goal is to ensure the safety of our workers and those who use our facilities. We will resume operations at our facilities as early as possible, but only when it is safe to do so.”

With the port’s closure, ships have been forced to either idle offshore or leave for other destinations. In an interview with the Virginian-Pilot newspaper, Virginia Port Authority spokesman Joe Harris said that on Nov. 1, the Port of Hampton Roads was expected to receive two shipments of containers and vehicles originally bound for New York-New Jersey.

The US Coast Guard, which has been assessing damage caused by the hurricane, has said one of its highest priorities now is seeing that the port returns to full operations.

“The United States is a maritime nation and we rely heavily on the ports for commerce – 95 percent of our goods come to us by way of sea,” USCG Vice Adm. Parker said following an Oct. 31 survey of the devastation. “The port of New York and New Jersey is vital to our nation’s economy and we are doing everything humanly possible to get the port back to full operations. This is an all-hands on deck evolution.”

Although the hurricane led to the closings of numerous ports along the Eastern seaboard, including facilities in Maine, Connecticut, Virginia and Maryland, most of those have reopened. New York-New Jersey, which is near where the hurricane struck hardest, is still without power.

NY-NJ is the third busiest port in the US, after Los Angeles and Long Beach. It handles between three and four billion cargo containers annually, valued at a combined $175 billion.

US Fab Wins Barge Build Contract

Vigor Industrial subsidiary US Fab has won the contract to build American Construction Co.’s newest vessel, a 242-foot by 54-foot, 4,050-cubic yard, split hull dump barge.

The barge was designed by The Glosten Associates of Seattle, Washington and features an advanced sealing mechanism to safeguard environmentally sensitive areas from potential leakage. Construction of the barge is expected to take place in Vigor’s Swan Island shipyard in Portland, Oregon. The yard is outfitted with an expansive 800-foot buildway, 600-ton gantry crane and 150,000 feet of covered fabrication bays.

Construction is on a tight schedule, with delivery scheduled for June 30, 2013.

“There are a limited number of split hull dump barges on the West Coast and American Construction is a leader in both cutting edge equipment and quality services,” Vigor Industrial sales representative Bryan Nichols said. “We’re proud to add them as a customer and are looking forward to a long-term relationship.”

American Construction is a dredging and marine construction company headquartered in Tacoma, Washington. The firm’s history in the Puget Sound dates back to 1903.

“US Fab has a solid reputation for on time, on budget deliveries,” American Construction President Steven Brannon said. “We’re confident they will hit our deadlines and deliver a quality vessel to augment our fleet and ensure the safety of our operators.”

NYK Begins Shoreside Power Usage

NYK Line has become the first Japanese shipping company to make use of the Port of Oakland’s shoreside electric power supply. In late October, the containership NYK Apollo was directly connected to the port’s unit.

NYK Apollo, which is equipped with a 6.6 KV alternative maritime power container unit, arrived at the Oakland International Container Terminal on the morning of Oct. 22 and was connected to shoreside power a few hours after docking and an initial test. The vessel continued to utilize shoreside power until late that evening.

Utilizing shoreside power instead of the onboard generator can greatly reduce or eliminate emissions from vessels at berth.

Of the many NYK-flagged vessels with AMP units currently installed, NYK Apollo is the first in NYK’s fleet to connect at the Port of Oakland and will continue to make use of shoreside power on subsequent visits. NYK says it continues to modify AMP units of containerships and will expand its use of shoreside power at the Port of Oakland.