Friday, November 14, 2014

POLA Approves Yusen Terminal Upgrades

By Mark Edward Nero

A project that would overhaul and upgrade a Port of Los Angeles marine terminal moved a step closer to reality on Nov. 7 when it was unanimously approved by the port’s Board of Harbor Commissioners.

The approval means the port now has the authority to direct its real estate division to open negotiations with terminal operator Yusen Terminals Inc., or YTI. Yusen wants to improve and expand its existing 185-acre terminal, located at port berths 212-224.

The terminal proposal entails improving the wharves at berths 214-216 by increasing the berths’ depth from minus-45 to minus-53 feet. Also included in the plan is a modification of the wharves at berths 217-220 to make way for 100-foot gauge gantry cranes, and deepening the berths to a minus-47 foot depth.

The nearly $60 million project would also add an additional track to the terminal’s current on-dock rail yard capacity, plus create improvements and repairs to surface backland areas.

The idea is to ready the terminal to handle the larger class of vessels that have begun calling at ports around the world. The ships, known as Ultra-Large Container Vessels, or ULCVs, have the capacity to haul 14,500 or more 20-foot equivalent units, the cargo containers commonly known in the shipping industry as TEUs.

“The ILWU is in full support of the container terminal improvements project,” Mondo Porras, vice president of International Longshore & Warehouse Union Local 13 said. “This endeavor ensures that the new 13,000 TEU-sized ships can successfully call upon the Port of Los Angeles.”

The project is planned to increase the YTI terminal’s capacity from about 1.6 million TEUs annually to over 1.9 million. In addition to 750 direct and secondary construction jobs the project’s estimated to create, the port says the project would generate a total of 2,241 other jobs related to terminal operations.

Environmentalists attending the meeting voiced their concerns about the project’s EIR, including that it doesn’t address all feasible mitigations, that nitrogen oxide emissions would be too high and that the resultant greenhouse gas emissions would be eight times what’s considered significant.

The arguments did not deter the harbor board from voting for the project, however, with many stating that they were comfortable enough with the findings of the Final EIR to go ahead and approve the terminal overhaul and expansion. The document was prepared by the Port of LA in conjunction with the US Army Corps of Engineers.

Award of the capital construction contract is expected to be brought before the harbor board in a separate future action. The estimated cost of the project is $58.3 million, with construction expected to begin next year and last until at least 2018.