Friday, August 23, 2019

Pot and Peppers Stopped at the Border

By Karen Robes Meeks

A shipment of jalapeƱo peppers was spiced with four tons of illegal marijuana seized by Customs and Border Protection officers earlier this month in San Diego, Calif.

Officers at the Otay Mesa cargo facility found the $2.3 million worth of drugs co-mingled in the shipment transported by a Mexican man, 37, which arrived at the port of entry at 6:15 p.m. on Aug. 15.

A K-9 unit zeroed in on the peppers, prompting officers to pull 314 large-wrapped packages of marijuana that weighed 7,560 pounds.

“I am proud of the officers for seizing this significant marijuana load,” said Otay Mesa Port Director Rosa Hernandez. “Not only did they prevent the drugs from reaching our community, they also prevented millions of dollars of potential profit from making it into the hands of a transnational criminal organization.”

Vancouver USA Breaks Ground on Hotel

By Karen Robes Meeks

The Port of Vancouver USA and hotel development Vesta Hospitality broke ground on a new seven-story, 150-room AC Hotel by Marriott at Terminal 1 Thursday.

Once completed in mid-2021, the hotel will be the first project to open at Terminal 1. Plans for the area include commercial space, public art, outdoor spaces to gather, pedestrian trails and a public marketplace along the waterfront.

“We are so pleased to have the AC Hotel by Marriott as the first project underway at Terminal 1,” said Port CEO Julianna Marler. “This project is a key component to making Terminal 1 a vibrant gathering place for our community and a premier destination for the region.”

In the last two years, Washington state contributed $6 million toward the project’s ground stabilization work and construction activities. The money will go toward improving parts of Daniels Way, the Renaissance Trail near Terminal 1, the East Portal stormwater facility and Vancouver Landing.

“This is a true public-private partnership, and with today’s groundbreaking, we are getting Terminal 1 off to a strong start,” said Washington State Sen. Annette Cleveland. “This is my community; I grew up here, I live here and I’m excited to see the positive economic impact this project will bring. I congratulate Vesta Hospitality and the port on getting to this milestone, and I look forward to seeing this hotel welcome visitors to beautiful Vancouver.”

Long Beach Seeks Public Input

By Karen Robes Meeks

The public is invited to weigh in on a draft that outlines the Port of Long Beach’s long-term land use and development goals and policies.

The port has released a draft of its Port Master Plan, which was last updated in 1990. Revisions were required to reflect changes to the industry and prepare for future challenges.

The public can provide input on Aug. 26, at 6 p.m., during the regular Long Beach Board of Harbor Commissioners meeting, which takes place at the Long Beach City Hall, Bob Foster Civic Chambers, 411 W. Ocean Blvd., Long Beach, Calif., 90802.

Stakeholders may submit comments in writing until Sept. 30 to Matt Plezia, Director of Master Planning, Port of Long Beach, 415 W. Ocean Blvd., Long Beach, CA 90802, or to

The draft can be found at An Environmental Impact Report for the Master Plan Update is expected to be released as well.

Buoy Tender Roundup

By Karen Robes Meeks

This week, the US Coast Guard 17th District in Alaska hosted the annual Buoy Tender Roundup, a five-day event featuring training and friendly competition.

Crew members from Coast Guard cutters Kukui and Henry Blake, Coast Guard Regional Dive Locker West and Canadian coast guard ship Bartlett took part in the event, which provides members the opportunity to receive specialized training in areas such as engine repair, buoy maintenance, first aid, navigation, weather observation and fisheries.

"The roundup is an extremely cost effective and efficient means to ensure our buoy tender crews have access to the training they need to be successful in their chosen professions," said Lt. Cmdr. Michael Newell, chief of the district Waterways Branch. "Subject matter experts from across the Coast Guard are being brought in to inspect and service vital shipboard equipment to ensure the safety of our crews while they are deployed.”

Coast Guard buoy tenders in Alaska maintain 1,350 navigational aids along 33,000 miles of coastline. They also take part in search and rescue, environmental protection and law enforcement missions.

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Northwest Seaport Alliance Earns
Logistics Honors

By Karen Robes Meeks

The ports of Seattle and Tacoma recently earned top marks for their customer service in Logistics Management’s 2019 Quest for Quality awards.

More than 4,500 readers of the trade publication rated North American ports on ease of doing business, value, ocean carrier network, intermodal network, and equipment and operations.

The Northwest Seaport Alliance was one of only four West Coast ports to earn at least 5 percent of the category vote – minimum criteria to be eligible for the win. It garnered the highest score in three of the five categories to claim the overall title.

“We are honored for the recognition. From day one of the NWSA partnership, we have been focused on helping customers find solutions,” said Tong Zhu, NWSA chief commercial officer and chief strategy officer. “Despite uncertainty within our industry, we continue to look for new opportunities that enhance operational performance and customer experience through our gateway.”

Since 2015, the alliance has earned Quest for Quality honors annually.

Coast Guard Puts School on Notice

By Karen Robes Meeks

Alaska’s Lower Kuskokwim School District has until the end of the month to remove all fuel oils from its Napakiak School fuel storage facility, where approximately 36,000 gallons of home heating oil threaten the Kuskokwim River.

The Coast Guard on Friday issued an Administrative Order, following an Aug. 12 report that stated the storage facility was within 150 feet of the river and at risk of riverbank erosion.

“The Coast Guard is dedicated to the protection of the marine environment and in this case that means we’re taking preventative steps to mitigate the potential for pollution,” said Lt. James Nunez, incident management division, Coast Guard Sector Anchorage.

Coast Guard Sector Anchorage used $10,000 from the Oil Spill Trust and Liability Fund and investigated the facility, where measurements taken by personnel showed that the fuel storage facility at its closest point was 76 feet away from the riverbank’s erosion point.

Port of Olympia and State Agree on Stormwater

By Karen Robes Meeks

An Agreed Order has been reached between the Port of Olympia and the Washington State Department of Ecology over the industrial stormwater permit that covers the port’s Marine Terminal.

The order gives the port a specific timeline to propose and implement a range of possible system modifications designed to ensure the facility can consistently meet Chemical Oxidation Demand (COD) permit benchmarks into the future.

“The Port of Olympia is committed to sound environmental stewardship,” said Port Executive Director Sam Gibboney. “I appreciate Ecology’s cooperation in clarifying our mutual expectations and look forward to working together to achieve our shared goal of protecting the water quality of Budd Inlet.”

In 2015, a failed system component in the then-newly operational Port Marine Terminal stormwater treatment facility led to a release of hydrogen peroxide. The system returned to operations in 2016 and have since been working to make corrective action requirements.

Cleanest Carrier Calls

By Karen Robes Meeks

The Port of Long Beach recently welcomed the cleanest cargo vessel to come to the US.

On July 12, Mediterranean Shipping Company’s 1,200-foot-long MSC Jewel stopped at Total Terminals International’s Pier T facility.

The ship, built this year, can move as many as 14,436 TEUs with Tier III diesel engines, which are “75 percent cleaner than the Tier II standard set by the International Maritime Organization,” according to the port.

“The Port of Long Beach is known for our commitment to operational excellence, and part of that is leading the industry into the future with our environmental initiatives,” said Port Executive Director Mario Cordero. “MSC runs our largest terminal, one of the most productive in North America. We couldn’t be prouder of our partnership with them and the example this sets for other ports.”