Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Green Terminals

By Kathy A. Smith

Federal, state and local regulations call for better management of possible pollutants and invasive species, while at the same time shipping lines are calling for green alternatives both for themselves and to pass along in marketing efforts to their own clients. This makes port authorities operating marine terminals along the West Coast very interested in green operations.

Bellingham Redevelopment
One of these West Coast ports is the Port of Bellingham, which operates two major marinas, Blaine Harbor and Squalicum Harbor, whose more than 2,000 slips combined make up much of the marina capacity of the State of Washington. Back in 2007, the Bellingham marinas were among the first to obtain 5-Star ratings in not only how they deal with waste materials by using environmentally friendly substances, but in outreach to the customers.

“Right now when boaters remove their trailerable boats from the water, they run their motors with clean water and clean off their boats, that material goes straight into the storm drain system, which then goes into the city sewer lines,” says Dave Warter, Marine Terminals Supervisor. “What we’re going to be doing this year is installing a filtration system that will catch materials that might be coming off the hull, like paint or residual oil from motors.” In 2009, the Port, which requires Best Management Practices for all users of their facilities, also successfully applied and received the same 5-Star rating for the Bellingham Cruise Terminal, and has done so every year since.

The Port’s environmental initiatives at the cruise terminal include sewage pumpouts for the charter vessels and a sewer line for the Alaska ferry so they do not have to discharge while in open water. A recycling plan offers a program for paper, cardboard, bottles and cans and a recycling program for monofilament net at their boat launch. Other initiatives call for using friendlier cleaning products, green light fixtures, including ballasts and bulbs, using sewer drain filters and posting signage at garbage locations on where to take hazardous waste. The Port even offers a program for signage educating the public on the sensitive waters of Bellingham Bay and decals on all storm drains stating ‘Do Not Dump!’

Warter says as far as the 5-Star program goes, “Ten years ago, you didn’t necessarily think about environmental impact on the local waterways and how it even affects the food we eat. It’s nice to have a program in place that helps you steer in a better direction, and we are constantly looking for ways we can be more environmentally-responsible.”

Michael Hogan, Environmental Analyst for the Port of Bellingham says overall, this year, the Port will construct about $1 million in energy efficiency improvements to Port facilities.

The Port is also making significant investments on Bellingham’s central waterfront to clean up historic contamination, rebuild waterfront terminals and transition underutilized heavy industrial property into productive reuse. The Port has partnered with the City of Bellingham to guide the redevelopment of a 237-acre piece of Bellingham’s downtown waterfront. The long-term vision for this former mill site is a new mixed-use neighborhood, featuring residential, commercial, light industrial and institutional uses, as well as parks, trails and a healthy shoreline.

Bellingham’s waterfront redevelopment plans include a new downtown marina. The Port will remove more than 400,000 cubic yards of contaminated treatment sludge from a 37-acre wastewater treatment lagoon, which was formerly used to treat process water from a complex pulp, paper and chemical facility. Once the lagoon is cleaned out, it will be converted into a new marina, which will include a mile of public access along the outside of the breakwater and shorelines reshaped to support salmon recovery efforts.

“When the Port makes major capital investment decisions, it strives to integrate a range of economic, environmental and community benefits into its plans and projects,” says Hogan. For example, the Port recently performed maintenance dredging in Squalicum Harbor. Rather than pay millions of dollars to transport and dispose of the dredge material offsite, the Port reused the dredge material as part of an environmental cap at a nearby clean-up site. This project supported bay-wide environmental clean up efforts and reduced the environmental footprint of the project.

Oyster Power
Since 2004, shore power has been an integral part of cruise ship facilities at the Port of Seattle. “The biggest source of emissions in most ports comes from vessels,” says Stephanie Jones Stebbins, Director of Seaport Environmental and Planning. “So shore power makes sense for cruise vessels because they call frequently and have a very large power demand.” In fact, last year, the Port saw over 200 cruise ships.

On the container side, Jones Stebbins says the Port’s ‘At Berth Clean Fuels Program’ has seen good participation and been an effective approach to reducing vessel emissions. “Between using low sulphur fuel and plugging into shore power, last year, 57 percent of the vessels calling into our port did one of the two.”

Additionally, ports in Puget Sound recently completed an emissions inventory. The Port of Seattle’s diesel particulate emissions from ocean-going vessels while at berth went down 34 percent over the past six years, and from their clean fuel incentive program, they removed more than 1,000 metric tons of sulphur from the environment. The Port is upgrading and retrofitting cargo handling equipment to be less harmful to the environment, evidenced by cargo handling diesel particulate emissions dropping by 39 percent, and emissions from trucks going down 53 percent as well over the past six years.

With respect to storm water run-off, Jones Stebbins says the Port has designed a very effective treatment using oyster shells in catch basins that has significantly reduced metals like zinc and copper from tires and brake pads. For cleaning docks, their maintenance shop developed a machine that sucks up the cleaning water with a large shop vac or vacuum truck. This prevents the dirty water from getting into the environment. The Port has also partnered on a terminal project with the local utility on lighting, which saves 1 million kilowatts a year, a savings of $100,000. And a number of the Port’s sites are brownfield developments, former industrial sites where chemicals like PCBs were used in manufacturing which Jones Stebbins says have now been addressed.

“The Port of Seattle is a vibrant and active cruise and cargo terminal which includes 32 acres of habitat the Port has restored or enhanced and we will be building an additional 40 acres,” says Jones Stebbins.

Grant Power
The Port of San Francisco predominantly serves cruise ships, with one existing cruise terminal at Pier 35, and a second under construction at Piers 27/ 29, expected to open in early 2014. The new terminal will be fully LEED-certified and will be the Port’s primary cruise terminal.

Currently, the Port sees about 60 cruise vessels a year, and has a shoreside power system at Pier 27/29 that has been in place since late 2010, which at the time was the first of its kind for cruise ships in California and only the fourth in the world, according to Jay Ach, Manager of Regulatory & Environmental Affairs, Maritime Division.

On the ship repair side, in October 2012, the Port, which owns the shipyard at Pier 70 that is leased to BAE San Francisco Ship Repair, completed installing shoreside power for the Drydock #2 and for Wharf 4 next door, providing 8,000 amps at 480 volts of power to vessels. The shipyard, originally covering a much larger area, was built beginning in the late 1800s, and there are plans to redevelop the area surrounding it, so addressing asbestos in the buildings, lead paint, soil contamination and seismic stability will be high on the agenda.

Ach says environmental regulations in California ports are some of the most stringent in the country. He believes all of the state’s ports also work hard to go beyond regulations. The California Air Resources Board, through its Transportation Fund for Clean Air and Carl Moyer programs, fund air pollution reduction initiatives. He says many of the Port’s tenants can also access these grant programs. “Our tug companies and bar pilots have replaced or upgraded engines, and one of our local dredging companies has replaced or retrofitted a lot of diesel engines using grant funds.”

Other agencies also helped with the Port’s shoreside power initiative. “We had a budget of $5.2 million for our shoreside power facility at Pier 27, and $1.9 million of that came from the Bay Area Quality Management District. The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission that operates the Hetch Hetchy water and power system contributed $1.3 million, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency also contributed $1 million through the Diesel Emissions Reduction Act (DERA) Program. So we received $4.2 million in grant funds, with just $1 million out-of-pocket expenses for the Port,” Ach says.

He also notes that the Port’s planning and engineering groups each have participating LEED-certified professionals who work closely on energy efficiency projects. This will bode the Port well as it undertakes more development/redevelopments which now include the northern waterfront, a declared historic district with old pier shed buildings, and the move of the Exploratorium hands-on science center to Piers 17 and 19.

Mark Sisson, Senior port planner/analyst for AECOM’s California office reports that AECOM was the lead planning consultant for the development of Terminal 2 in Vancouver, British Columbia’s Deltaport, the region’s largest container terminal located at Roberts Bank.

The terminal will be largely an electric facility with electric dock cranes, cold ironing, and a large capacity rail yard that will reduce the number of trucks. The facility will be open almost 24 hours, which will also smooth out demand for trucks and support reduced emissions. Sisson says with the container yard being automated, trucks will no longer have to wait in queues to be unloaded with their engines idling. Instead, they will back up to individual container stalls where a robotic electric crane will unload them.

Terminal 2 will be a high-density terminal, with higher capacity per acre, which will include the use of clean materials that meet stringent land use regulations.