Friday, March 15, 2013

Port of Seattle Commission Gives Itself Huge Pay Raise

The Port of Seattle Commission on March 12 unanimously voted to give itself a substantial pay raise, with commissioners’ compensation set to increase from $6,000 a year to $42,100 annually later this year.

Seattle commissioners currently earn $500 a month, but can take $104 per diem for each day of commission work, up to $12,500 a year. The sevenfold pay hike was proposed by Commissioner Tom Albro, who made his case in a Feb. 26 letter to constituents.

“There are two reasons this change must be made,” he wrote. “The trifling salary (of $6,000) imposes an unstated, but all too real, financial hurdle for those who might wish to run for the office. If you have to work full-time to pay your bills, you will not apply. As a citizen, this notion offends me.”
The second reason for the increase, Albro said, was that port commissioners duties warrant the higher salary.

“The role requires a substantial commitment of time and effort and we need it to be done well,” he wrote. “It is a big job to be thoughtfully and usefully engaged everywhere it matters.”

The increase brings the commissioners’ pay level up to over $3,500 a month – the same as a part-time Washington state legislator -- but not until after the November elections, when four out of the five commission seats are up for election, including Albro’s.

However, Albro has said if re-elected later this year, he’ll decline to accept to the pay increase, something that’s specifically allowed under state law.

The vote in favor of the raise was 3-0, with Commissioner Bill Bryant absent. Bryant had previously voiced his opposition to the increase.

New Port of Kalama Executive Director Appointed

The Port of Kalama Commission on March 12 appointed Mark Wilson to serve as the port’s Executive Director. He assumes the role April 1, after the retirement of current Executive Director Lanny Cawley on March 31.

“Mark has been instrumental in much of the success the port has enjoyed over the years, and he is well-positioned to carry on the many projects initiated by Lanny Cawley during his tenure,” Port of Kalama commission president Troy Stariha said in a statement. “We believe that with Mark’s leadership the port will continue to serve the region as a significant economic development hub.”

Cawley, who joined the port as Director of Property Development and Management/Marketing in 1994, has served as director since 1998. Wilson, who’s currently the port’s deputy director, worked his way up through the ranks. He was first hired 30 years ago as a high school student on the summer maintenance crew and has spent the majority of his tenure on the port’s development activities.

Among the projects Wilson, 46, has overseen are the current work on the annexation and zoning of East Port which is expected to allow the port to develop a new mixed-use business park for commercial and light industrial.

He has also contributed to planning of the development of the 75-acre Kalama River Industrial Park, under which 156,000 square feet of industrial buildings have been constructed by the port and a 170,000-square-foot bottle manufacturing plant was built.

In 2005, Wilson helped manage a remodel project for the port-owned grain terminal, Cenex Harvest States, which added over 4,000 feet of rail and high speed railcar unloading capacity.

Port of LA Monthly Container Volume Surges

The Port of Los Angeles’ February 2013 overall cargo volumes increased nearly 17 percent compared to February 2012 according to newly released data, something attributed in part to a surge in imports before factory closures for the Chinese New Year.

Imports at Los Angeles terminals jumped 25.23 percent, rising from 254,359 TEUs in February 2012 to 318,547 TEUs this past February. The increase more than countered a drop in exports at the port. During the month, outgoing TEUS dropped 4.88 percent, going from 164,725 TEUs in February 2012 to 156,690 TEUs in February 2013.

Combined, total loaded imports and exports for February increased 13.40 percent, from 419,084 TEUs last February to 475,237 TEUs in February 2013. Factoring in empties, which increased 31 percent year over year, overall February 2013 volumes (614,948 TEUs) increased 16.99 percent compared to February 2012 (525,653 TEUs).

For the first two months of calendar year 2013, overall container volumes have increased 4.87 percent to 1.28 million TEUs, compared to the same period in 2012 (1.22 million TEUs). For the fiscal year to date, which began July 1, LA has seen a slight decline in TEUs compared to the same period the previous year.

For the eight-month period that ended in February, POLA terminals have moved a total of 5.35 million TEUs, a 0.86 percent drop from 5.39 million TEUs in same time period during the previous year.
Current and past data container counts for the Port of Los Angeles may be viewed at:

Diesel Fluid Facility Opens at Stockton Port

A new diesel exhaust fluid production and packaging facility had its grand opening March 13 at the Port of Stockton.

Diesel exhaust fluid, or DEF, is a new product required by many heavy-duty trucks, pickups, SUVs, vans, agricultural, construction and forestry equipment built after January 2010.

DEF is used to destroy harmful emissions in the exhaust and meet the EPA’s latest strict environmental standards. Emissions legislation came into force in January 2010 requiring diesel vehicles to significantly reduce harmful emissions of NOx and particulate matter.

DEF, which is non-hazardous, is sprayed into the exhaust and combines with a catalyst to break down the harmful pollutant NOx into nitrogen and water.

The Stockton facility, which is run by Texas-based company Victory Blue, now produces, packages and distributes the exhaust fluid for various companies, including Cummins and Valvoline.

“This facility helps to solidify our distribution network on the West Coast,” Victory Executive Vice President Jason Lower said. “We are confident that our new Stockton, California facility will provide a much needed supply solution to the region. We are proud to bring jobs to the area and be a contributor to the ongoing efforts to improve air quality through cleaner emissions for future generations.”

The new, 40,000-square-foot production facility at the Port of Stockton has bulk loading 24 hours a day, seven days a week, as well as an inventory of totes, drums, jugs and a line of equipment for end users.

The facility will have the ability to produce millions of gallons of product annually, Victory Blue President Tom Paquin said March 13.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Fidley Watch - State of the State

By Chris Philips, Managing Editor

A collection of maritime leaders gathered in Sacramento, California late last month for the 13th Annual California Maritime Leadership Symposium (CMLS). Developed as a way to brief Sacramento’s policymakers on key matters related to the entire Maritime Transportation System, the conference is hosted by a coalition of maritime organizations. These include the California Association of Port Authorities, California Marine Affairs and Navigation Conference, California Marine and Intermodal Transportation System Advisory Council (CALMITSAC), California Maritime Academy (CMA), Harbor Association of Industry and Commerce, and the Propeller Club of Los Angeles/Long Beach.

This year’s event addressed several issues facing the state, and was well attended by legislators and policymakers, representatives from California’s ports, members of the marine transportation industry and labor, and a number of cadets from the California Maritime Academy.

While the topics addressed by panels during the two-day symposium were largely California-centric, several addressed coastwide issues, including a panel on marine terminals, rail and trucking that looked at the steps being taken by industry to address three issues outlined succinctly by Alan McCorkle, Sr. Vice President of APM Terminals: bigger ships, cleaner air and life on the docks.

Bigger ships includes the challenges of servicing vessels approaching 15,000 TEUs, which will require more and larger cranes, more room under the keel and an infrastructure – most likely on-dock rail – that can move the freight away from the vessels.

Cleaner air can be addressed by electrifying and automating terminal equipment, which also addresses the bigger ships issue (an issue at the heart of our 2012 Green Pacific Conference). Life on the docks refers to the fact that none of the above can be achieved with out the cooperation of labor.

Another panel addressed Safety and Security “Lessons Learned,” including piracy and terrorism. Professor Donna Nincic, Director of the School of Maritime Policy and management at CMA, addressed the often-overlooked toll of piracy on the shipping industry, in which ransoms play a very small role. A study on Somali piracy in 2011 put the cost of piracy to industry at $5.3 to $5.5 billion, in the form of rerouting, security equipment and higher insurance costs (46 percent) and increased speeds (40 percent) with another $1.3 billion to governments (19 percent) for military efforts, with ransom costs only contributing 2 percent.

Hank Glauser, with Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, discussed the threat of terrorism to domestic terminals, and offered one solution in the form of the Portunus Project, in which future US ports could be located in the ocean, 20 or more miles offshore, to allow cargo to be inspected away from cities. The floating offshore terminals would accommodate extremely large container vessels, and would allow for freight transfer to smaller feeder vessels, which could then call at a variety of onshore ports.

A notable event during the conference was a reception in the Capitol Rotunda and the awarding of the 3rd annual Gary L. Gregory Lifetime Achievement Award. This year’s award went to Captain Richard McKenna, Executive Director for the Marine Exchange of Southern California. McKenna, who announced his retirement last October, said he was flattered and very appreciative of the award. “The California maritime industry is relatively unheralded in its importance to the state, but is so vital to our economic well being,” he says. “To be involved in this effort is reward enough, to be honored in such a way is both gratifying and humbling.”