Pacific Maritime Magazine - Marine Business for the Operations Sector

Green Terminals


May 1, 2017

The Port of San Francisco plans to purchase a new low-profile boat to help with its under-pier inspections. Photo by Dave Rauenbuehler, Port Maintenance Division, courtesy of the Port of San Francisco.

Ports around the Pacific Northwest have a variety of green projects on the go that help reduce port emissions and more. New technologies are continually being explored and tested in an effort to reduce pollution, improve efficiencies and keep tenants, vendors and customers happy.

Late last fall, the Port of Los Angeles, working in conjunction with the Port of Long Beach, released an update to the San Pedro Bay Ports Clean Air Action Plan (CAAP) efforts on the environmental sustainability front. Aggressively deploying zero and near-zero emission trucks and cargo-handling equipment and expanding programs that reduce ship emissions are among the core strategies the two ports are proposing for the next version of CAAP. The updated CAAP provides one of California's first opportunities to implement the vision laid out in the State's Sustainable Freight Action Plan.

The Discussion Document prioritizes reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from port-related sources 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050. "For the last few months, we've been meeting with all stakeholders, community groups, the business community, our port tenants, and other stakeholders to get feedback on the document," says Lisa Wunder, Marine Environmental Manager for the Port of LA. "We're hoping to release a final draft of that within the next few months, and then we can start implementing those programs."

The Ports' track record on implementing landmark environmental initiatives has also contributed to recent success in receiving several very large environmental grants from regulatory agencies to implement several projects. Last spring, in an effort to reduce port pollution, Pasha Stevedoring and Terminals L.P. and the Port of Los Angeles launched the Green Omni Terminal Demonstration Project, which is a full-scale, real-time demonstration of zero and near-zero emission technologies at a working marine terminal. Once complete, Pasha will be the world's first marine terminal able to generate all of its energy needs from renewable sources. The project is funded in part by a $14.5 million grant from the California Air Resources Board (CARB) for reducing greenhouse gases and other pollutants.

Yard equipment is also being upgraded. Recently, the US EPA awarded the Port of LA an $800,000 grant to deploy more of the cleanest commercial equipment available for moving cargo. Two terminal operators, APM Terminals Pacific Ltd. and TraPac LLC, are funding the balance of the $3 million project. APM Terminals will invest more than $2 million to replace 16 yard tractors with new equipment powered by Tier 4 clean diesel engines. TraPac will spend $174,000 to repower two heavy-duty forklifts with Tier 4 engines.

In addition, The Port of LA has secured a $5.8 million State grant to purchase and test a new fleet of 25 zero and near-zero emission yard tractors at the Everport marine container terminal. The grant also will fund a companion project to equip 100 more drayage trucks with smart technology aimed at reducing emissions by streamlining their time on the road and improving the flow of containers to and from the port complex. Results of monitoring and tracking the new green technologies are expected in 2018.

"It has been great that our regulatory agencies have stepped up and realized that funding is essential to bring these new technologies to market," says Wunder. "It's a lot of collaboration with our tenants. They're the ones who really have to test it to make sure this equipment will work and work within their specific operations. With all of the stakeholders, to keep the cargo coming, keep the jobs here, and find new ways to even further reduce our footprint in the region from an environmental perspective is what's most important."

The port of seattle has its own storm water utility that it maintains separate from the city. The Port has undertaken a large project to assess the condition of all 78 miles of its storm water piping system to ensure that runoff does not get into Puget Sound in order to keep the waters as clean as possible.

Earlier this year, nearly 25,000 linear feet (approximately five miles) of storm water line was inspected by camera in order to determine what needs to be upgraded or repaired. "The storm water regulations in Washington State are, by far, the most stringent in the country," says Stephanie Jones Stebbins, Seaport Director of Environmental and Planning for the port of seattle. "Our goal is to have the entire system inspected with the camera over the next three years."

The Port has also kept its two Splash Boxx facilities. When the Splash Boxx project was piloted three years ago, different types of soils were used to see which was best at removing pollutants from roof runoff. Now the Splash Boxxs are being used to catch runoff from a bridge that runs over the Port property. "Having the technology to address that is very important," says Jones Stebbins. "The reason that's important is that the dissolved metals affect salmon's ability to smell their predators."

In addition, the Port's commission has set some very aggressive goals for building marine habitat. Over the past few years, the Port has either restored or constructed about 32 acres of habitat, and is working to create another 40 acres over the next 15 or 20 years. "We hope by this time next year, we'll be the largest builder of habitat in the Duwamish River," says Jones Stebbins.

A new pilot project using solar energy is expected to be operational by year's end. The initiative will see the installation of solar panels on some of the Port buildings that will help supply electricity.

The Seaport Truck Scrappage and Replacement for Air in Puget Sound (SCRAPS) truck program which helps truckers who service the ports of Tacoma and Seattle to upgrade their vehicles, is continuing to help reduce emissions. The Ports of Seattle and Tacoma make up the Northwest Seaport Alliance (NWSA) which is working in several environmental areas to ensure long-term environmental sustainability at the ports. The SCRAPS program has been part of the Northwest Ports Clean Air Strategy, a program which began several years ago, and also involved the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority in Canada.

While all three ports were working within the Northwest Ports Clean Air Strategy, each port had its own version of a clean truck program, and through that program, each port was working in various ways to support replacing older, more polluting trucks with cleaner, newer trucks. About 340 trucks have been purchased under the SCRAPS program to date, with reservations for 40 more.

The NWSA approved and supported the last round of SCRAPS grant funding and has been working directly with the clean air agency on getting those 40 additional trucks scrapped. "Now we're just putting the finishing touches up and getting the paperwork in so that those truckers can replace their older, more polluting trucks with 2007 model year or newer trucks," says Jason Jordan, Director of Environmental and Planning Services.

NWSA is also actively searching for additional grant opportunities to expand and continue its truck SCRAPS program. Jordan says there are approximately 4,414 trucks serving the gateway. "Only 380 trucks have been or will be scrapped through our program," he says. "However, many other independent and fleet truck owners have already replaced their older trucks with 2007 or newer cleaner trucks outside of our SCRAPS program."

In another environmental initiative, NWSA is piloting a new technology called DrayQ, a Smartphone app that will allow truckers to see wait times at individual gates in order to streamline cargo movement through the gateway. "It also has a camera feed so you can actually look at live shots of the different terminals so you can see for yourself what's moving at the terminals," adds Jordan. "And it's a really simple system. It reads the Bluetooth reader on your cell phone and it tracks the cell phones as they march down the roadways to get into the gate."

Jordan says the goal is to tie DrayQ to a port community system so anyone travelling to the port could know what's happening well in advance so they can plan their day and the distribution centers can plan their activities accordingly.

The NWSA is in the midst of doing its 2016 emissions inventory, is also in the process of planning for its Northwest Ports Clean Air Strategy program update, and last year, joined the Green Marine program, an extensive voluntary environmental certification program.

The Port of San Francisco plans to purchase a new low-profile boat to help with its under-pier inspections for storm water outfalls into the San Francisco Bay. "There is a lot of urban runoff, but you want to be looking for signs of contamination," says Richard Berman, Environmental Manager. "That might be an odor. It might be a sheen, which indicates that you have some upstream contributor contaminating the runoff and you have to find out who that is. And the State permits hold you accountable for that."

In addition, the Port continues to find opportunities to relocate its sewer pipes above tiered decks, because they're vulnerable to failure, which can result in sewage spillage into the Bay. Berman says there are challenges because the windows of opportunity to make repairs are small. "Currently, we can't get under the piers whenever we want, and we have to wait for the proper tidal window that corresponds to the daylight and the work staff hours."

The Port has also been contemplating beneficial reuse for dredge material as opposed to open-ocean dumping and is looking at improving its pile-driving practices by taking advantage of new technology to attenuate the noise for marine mammals.

A pre-1994 truck is scrapped in Seattle. Photo by Don Wilson, courtesy of the Port of Seattle.

Looking ahead, the Port is considering building a hydrogen fuelling station. The impetus comes from one of the Port's tenants who is currently looking at the possibility of building a hydrogen fuel cell ferry that has zero emissions. "This is a project that's going to develop over months, and we've identified a location where we might build a hydrogen fuelling station at Pier 54," says Berman.

The station would be designed to be intermodal, to serve both water craft as well as land vehicles, and quite possibly be the first of its kind. "I think the big areas are going to be in finding sources of renewable energy, and that's why we're excited about this hydrogen fuelling station," says Berman. "We're still trying to prevent and minimize climate change as much as possible by finding ways to embrace renewable energy, which does at least two things: It minimizes the carbon loading of the atmosphere, and it keeps the air cleaner for the people around the Port."


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