Friday, December 27, 2019

Port of Seattle Adopts Environmental
Justice Policy

By Karen Robes Meeks

The Port of Seattle recently adopted the Duwamish Valley Community Benefits Commitment, a policy that will foster economic opportunities in this port-adjacent community.

“The Port of Seattle is excited to continue working with the Duwamish Valley community in providing greater opportunities to near-Port neighborhoods that are disproportionately impacted by environmental justice issues,” said Port of Seattle Commission President Stephanie Bowman. “We’ve seen great results so far, and we look forward to engaging more community groups to continue this innovative and impactful work.”

The policy is the culmination of three years of work between the port and Duwamish Valley community and is part of the EPA Ports Initiative Environmental Justice Project. Back in 2006, the port, community members and Just Health Action teamed up to apply for an EPA technical assistance grant to address environmental issues in the Duwamish Valley.

“The communities of the Duwamish Valley have always been rich with talent and continue to add economically and to the rich cultural tapestry of the region. This resolution is reflective of an important step the Duwamish Valley community and the Port of Seattle is making so that all who live, work, and invest in the valley can thrive,” said Bunthay Cheam, Port Community Action Team representative and lifelong South Park community member. “It serves as a model of how institutions and communities can build together. We thank the Port of Seattle for recognizing the need for the Duwamish Valley Community Benefits Commitment and for investing in its neighbors that have been here all along.”

Dredging Begins in Bellingham

By Karen Robes Meeks

Efforts to return the Squalicum Waterway to its authorized width and depth are now under way.

Earlier this month, the US Army Corps of Engineers and the Port of Bellingham launched a 45-day, $2.2 million waterfront infrastructure project, which involves dredging approximately 254,000 cubic yards of material from the waterway and transporting it by barge to disposal sites. Long Beach-based Curtin Maritime Corp has been contracted to perform the work.

“Maintenance dredging of the Squalicum Waterway is long overdue,” said Bellingham Cold Storage President Doug Thomas, whose company teamed with the port to secure the federal funding needed to perform the work.

“The federal channel was last dredged in 2004 and ongoing sedimentation has created a navigation hazard threatening the economic viability of waterfront industries like Bellingham Cold Storage which rely on a fully maintained channel,” Thomas said. “Over the past several years, vessel loading restrictions have forced us to utilize a makeshift system of loading product onto a floating barge in the middle of Bellingham Bay at considerable added expense. This system was not sustainable, and the economic development potential of our working waterfront has been compromised by increasing limitations in functionality within the Squalicum Waterway.”

Successful Mission for USCGC Bertholf Crew

By Karen Robes Meeks

After 82 days of counter-narcotics patrol in the Eastern Pacific Ocean, US Coast Guard Cutter Bertholf (WMSL 750) crew members returned home to Alameda, Calif., before Christmas.

Their efforts resulted in the seizure of 5,851 pounds of cocaine worth more than an estimated $100 million.

The previous week, the crew was in San Diego, Calif., offloading more than 18,000 pounds of cocaine worth an estimated $312 million. The drugs were ceased over the course of “seven separate suspected drug smuggling vessel interdictions and disruptions by five Coast Guard cutter crews”. The operation occurred between October and December while the crews patrol in international waters of the Eastern Pacific Ocean off the Mexican, Central and South American coasts, according to the agency.

“This offload demonstrates another successful example of the ‘Cycle of Justice,’” said Vice Adm. Linda L. Fagan. “This cycle begins with intelligence-driven detection and monitoring of illicit activities that then cue the interdiction and apprehension of smugglers and contraband, and ultimately leads to criminal prosecution,” she said. “This 'Cycle of Justice' disrupts a 'Cycle of Crime,' which left unchecked, fuels violence and instability that corrodes our hemisphere's social and economic fabric, and directly contributes to historically high drug-related deaths in neighborhoods across North America.”

New Govt. Relations Director at Long Beach

By Karen Robes Meeks

Eleanor Torres has been named the Port of Long Beach’s new director of government relations. She will represent the port’s interests with the federal, state and local governments and oversee the port's legislative advocates in Sacramento, Calif., and Washington, D.C.

The Long Beach Board of Harbor Commissioners recently approved the appointment of Torres, who previously worked for the Orange County Water District as public affairs director.

Prior to her work in Orange County, Torres spent a decade working for the California Legislature, which included being district director for then-Assembly Majority Leader Dario Frommer.

Torres, who is expected to begin in her new role this month, attended Smith College, where she graduated with a bachelor's degree in economics.