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Published: April 26, 2008

GOTHENBURG, Sweden — Something unusual is happening in Swedish waters. Crews docking at the Port of Gothenburg are turning off their engines and plugging into the local power grid rather than burning diesel oil or sulfurous bunker fuel — a thick, black residue left over from refining oil.

Bunker Fuel

“I always knew these extremely dirty bunker fuels were helping produce acid rain that falls so heavily over this part of Sweden,” said Per Lindeberg, the port’s electrical manager and an avid fisherman. “I was very happy when we could switch off the ships.”

Similar high-voltage technologies have been introduced at Zeebrugge in Belgium, and in Los Angeles and Long Beach in California. But as at Gothenburg, only a small fraction of ships are equipped with plugs, so the benefits from shore-side electricity so far have been limited.

And despite the growing availability of cleaner technologies, the shipping industry has made little progress toward becoming greener, even as traffic grows heavier on existing routes and new routes open up in the Arctic. Indeed, the most recent efforts to tackle the problem have met resistance — less from the shipping industry, however, than from the big oil companies that supply the dirty fuel.

Shipping is responsible for about twice the emissions of carbon dioxide as aviation — yet airlines have come under greater criticism. Particles emitted by ships burning heavy bunker fuel, described by some seafarers as “black yogurt” for its consistency, also contain soot that researchers say captures heat when it settles on ice and could be accelerating the melting of the polar ice caps.

Health experts say the particulates worsen respiratory illnesses, cardiopulmonary disorders and lung cancers, particularly among people who live near heavy ship traffic.

Ship engines also produce large quantities of nitrogen, which contribute to the formation of algal blooms at sea. Those use up oxygen when they decompose and create so-called marine dead zones in heavily trafficked waters, like the Baltic Sea.

“The sheer volume of pollutants from shipping has grown exponentially along with the growth of our economies and of global trade,” said Achim Steiner, the executive director of the United Nations Environment Program. “Shipping is just less visible than other industries, so for too long it has slipped to the bottom of the agenda.”

Read the rest of the story >

 

“In our house, you can’t even talk when a train is going by”
MATT MISTEREK
Published: June 26th, 2008 01:30 AM | Updated: June 26th, 2008 06:19 AM
The whistles of passing trains blare nearly 70 times a day in Steilacoom. Now residents face an indefinitely noisy future, just months after train horns appeared destined to become a romantic memory in Washington’s oldest town.The Town Council voted in September to spend up to $130,000 for a wayside horn at the Union Avenue crossing. The automated device would limit the noise to the area near the busy ferry terminal. Train engineers would then be free from routinely blowing their whistles, which scatter a rock concert-level din through surrounding hills and neighborhoods. They could still blow them at their discretion in an emergency.

But rail regulators now say the town also must install a fixed horn at the Sunnyside Beach pedestrian crossing – doubling the cost – or else trains will keep blasting their whistles each time they pass through town.

Steilacoom staff members recommend that the Town Council approve spending more than $280,000 for the pair of wayside horns. The council is holding its second public hearing on the issue next week.

For now, the sound – and among some residents, the fury – continue in the town of 6,200 residents.

“Either you love the train whistles and you moved to Steilacoom to hear them, or they drive you crazy and you can’t sleep,” said resident Harry Meloeny.

He counts himself in the latter group, even though he has nostalgic feelings from his days switching cars in Pasco for Northern Pacific railroad. But that was a long time ago, in the late 1950s, when he was a college student.

“In our house, you can’t even talk when a train is going by,” Meloeny said.

Read the rest of the story>

“In response, ATA’s filing argues that any attempt by the Ports to create “criteria and procedures to be used to determine the right of admission or non-admission of trucks, cargo or equipment to any and all terminals at the ports” is illegal, calling them “blockade provisions.”

American Trucking Association Challenges Ports’ Cleaner Truck Program

LBReport.com
March 4, 2008

In a twenty-six page legal filing, the Intermodal Carriers Conference of the American Trucking Associations has submitted comments to the Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) charging that the cleaner trucks program approved by the Port of LB (without a labor component) and by the Port of L.A. (with a labor component) violate the federal Shipping Act.

Read the rest of the article

“Instead this course will not only risk the fiscal solvency of the District, but will also impede more viable courses of economic development as well as continuing to divide our community.”

Patrick Higgins
Humboldt Bay Harbor, Recreation and Conservation District
5th District Commissioner

Dennis Hunter, Commission Chair

Humboldt Bay Harbor District
601 Startare Drive, Woodley Island
Eureka, CA 95501

June 22, 2008

Re: Draft Redwood Marine Terminal Business Plan

Dear Dennis,

I am providing my comments below on the Draft Redwood Marine Terminal Business Plan (Business Plan) and, as with the previous Redwood Marine Terminal Feasibility Study that preceded it, I still cannot find evidence that transshipping Asian goods through Humboldt Bay is a viable enterprise.  I also do not see sufficient smaller scale shipping to warrant District investment in the multipurpose marine terminal.  The Business Plan is fraught with unfounded assumptions and provides no solid basis for positive cash flow scenarios. Success of the larger-scale container ship option depends on the reconstruction of a railroad through the Eel River canyon, a prospect that I consider remote at best. 

As result, I cannot support the adoption of the Business Plan, the District taking on the recommended $35 million loan for the multipurpose terminal, nor having our Port assets auctioned off in the future to facilitate development of an international shipping terminal.  

It just doesn’t make business sense to me nor is it considered favorably by the majority of my constituents.

Read the rest of this entry »

 “I don’t believe this board has a mandate to give away our assets.”

Humboldt Herald

 

The Humboldt Bay Harbor, Recreation and Conservation Commission had a full house at the Wharfinger Thursday night, but it didn’t win them any jackpots.

Dozens of residents got up to oppose any partnership with Goldman Sachs, the world’s largest investment bank, to develop Humboldt Bay.  Many invoked the destruction wrought by Maxxam — an outside corporation that exploited Humboldt County to the detriment of locals — and suggested less emphasis on industrialization and more on recreation and conservation.

“My candidate [for the Harbor Commission] lost by 162 votes,” said Whitethorn resident Anna Hamilton.  “I don’t believe this board has a mandate to give away our assets.”

Supporters of the Goldman giveaway were also in attendance, though in smaller numbers.

“Some people are afraid of having something good happen to Humboldt County,” said Patricia Daily, who hopes port and rail development will take trucks off the roads.

After a presentation of the Redwood Marine Terminal Business Plan, Commissioner Pat Higgins called it unfeasible.  Shipping trends on the Pacific coast are down, he said, and expansion of the Panama Canal will allow ships to bypass the West Coast altogether.

Commissioner Mike Wilson asked the board to “seriously consider” retracting an earlier decision to move forward with the Plan, drawing cheers from crowd.

The Plan relies on cruise ships as the principal generator of revenue.  Higgins suggested the Commission focus on making Humboldt Bay a destination for travelers before relying on cruise ships.  He said the Plan “doesn’t sound like clover coming up to me.”

The public can submit written comments on the Plan thru July 26.

Eureka Reporter: Residents turn out for presentation of draft marine terminal plan

“It would make sense for the United States to analyze facilities and determine how many deepwater ports are needed, according to Wainio. “We don’t do national planning it’s every man for himself,” he said.”

Professional Mariner

Issue Date: Issue #102, Feb/Mar 2007
David Tyler

As East Coast and Gulf ports plan for the expansion, decisions have to be made regarding the huge infrastructure investments needed to handle post-Panamax vessels. New York/New Jersey, Norfolk, Houston and Miami are just some of the ports that can accommodate or are working to accommodate post-Panamax vessels. Improvements include larger distribution centers, new gantry cranes, upgraded rail connections and channel dredging.

It would make sense for the United States to analyze facilities and determine how many deepwater ports are needed, according to Wainio. “We don’t do national planning it’s every man for himself,” he said.

Ports will be seeking federal funds to help build new facilities and dredge deeper channels for the post-Panamax ships. “The money simply isn’t there for every port from Maine to Miami to be dredged to 50 or 55 feet,” Wainio said.

But Valleau, of the North Atlantic Ports Association, said port officials need to consider carefully what they really need before coming up with big expansion proposals. “I’m conservative about this,” he said. “I wouldn’t recommend that all ports hasten out and go dredging to 60 feet and investing a billion dollars to buy the cranes and create the inland systems that are necessary … It’s a very complicated business calculation.”

And there will still be a need for ports to handle the smaller vessels, “because not all of these ships are oversized, post-Panamax ships   many of them aren’t,” Valleau said. “We need the mix.”

Read the full story at Professional Mariner

“Elected representatives from both public agencies can remove themselves, and hence the public, from the equation.”

Town Dandy – The North Coast Journal
Hank Sims
June 26, 2008 

In the next couple of weeks, the Humboldt Bay Harbor, Recreation and Conservation District will contrive to sell one of its principal assets — the Redwood Dock in Samoa, which it acquired a couple of years ago — to private investors. Actually, “sell” is probably overstating the case. In all likelihood, the district will more or less give it away, as the North Coast Railroad Authority gave a 99-year concession to a private operator (NWP Inc.) free of charge. The logic being that private capital will accomplish what the Bay District and the Railroad Authority — public agencies, both — cannot. The logic is that private capital will build the grand international shipping terminal envisioned for Humboldt Bay, at the same time resuscitating the 300 miles of moribund railroad track between Samoa and the Bay Area.

The obstacles to this vision have been chronicled in these pages ad infinitum (“Town Dandy,” passim). They have never been addressed. They cannot be addressed, at least by public agencies, because both the railroad and the harbor district must be all things to all people. They must project massive amounts of freight to be considered financially viable; they must project very little freight to be palatable to environmentalists and Marin County residents whose neighborhoods the trains will pass through. So, in the end, they must have no projections at all.

Offload the public assets to a private firm, though, and you’ve solved most of your political problems (if none of your financial, geotechnical or environmental ones). That’s why the upcoming deal with Goldman Sachs — which is offering to peddle the port and rail assets in exchange for a slice of the action — is, sorry to say, a stone-cold certainty. Elected representatives from both public agencies can remove themselves, and hence the public, from the equation. And they have the votes to do it. Read the rest of this entry »

“The cost to public health, restrictions on other bay activity, heightened terrorism interest and attendant security costs are nowhere to be found in the plan. Nor are there any restrictions on military, weapon, nuclear material, or hazardous chemical shipments.”

The Privatization of Humboldt Bay

Opinion by Dave Spreen, June 20, 2008

The action by three Humboldt Bay Harbor, Recreation, and Conservation District (HBHRCD) Commissioners authorizing negotiation of an agreement with Goldman Sachs to move forward before the Redwood Marine Terminal (RMT) business plan was even finished was not only a waste of staff and legal time, but a disservice to over half of the residents of Humboldt County who have clearly expressed through the last 3 general elections that they do not want scarce resources wasted pursuing another boondoggle project, but rather those that are of an appropriate scale.

The privatization of public assets of the HBHRCD was not a focus of the feasibility study. Now it seems the NCRA (North Coast Railroad Authority) and NWP (Northwestern Pacific Railroad) will have to be rolled into the deal in some sort of Public-Private Partnership (PPP). The package will then be marketed to large hedge, retirement, multinational and foreign investment funds by auction. Goldman Sachs takes its money off the top. Those who went this way on LNG (Liquid Natural Gas) plants now find they sit empty because the market changed making domestic supplies more competitive than foreign.

Obviously, the idea is to transfer the risk to the private sector, but it doesn’t always work out that way. The Port Authority in NYC stands to lose $160 million of future lease payments from Goldman Sachs due to construction delays there.

Meanwhile the NCRA is claiming they are exempt from California environmental laws because they are involved in interstate commerce and therefore regulated by the feds only. Ironic isn’t it – an agency created by the California legislature now claims its authority exceeds that of the state! Incidentally, the NCRA has already sold-out those hoping for passenger service or a tourist train because their 99-year lease deal with the NWP operator made no provision for such services. Despite violating its own bylaws in doing so, the HBHRCD Executive Director continues to defend loans to the NCRA as a “good investment”.

There have been 2 major assumptions carried through in the feasibility and business plan that are outdated and misleading: the projected increase in containerized shipping and the thousands of jobs to be created by the project.

The first assumption was based on projections during the building boom from 2000-2005. Already, those projections are woefully inaccurate, but still pushed as justification for the huge risk by proponents of the port/rail project. They ignore the fact the Port of Oakland is now reducing operating expenses, cutting 60 to 70 jobs this year, and trimming over 30 percent of its capital improvements planned for the next 5 years.

The 1999 World Bank report Measuring Port Performance states, “The recent study shows a relatively constant productivity of about 1000 TEUs per staff per year, for a large array of yearly throughput, from 150,000 up to 600,000 TEUs. This includes all staff: operational, administrative and management.”

The RMT business plan calls for about 200,000 TEUs (20 ft. shipping containers) annually for the first few years reaching about 300,000 TEUs maximum. That translates to about 200 to 300 jobs total. If the public share of the project cost runs about $300 million, that’s about $1 million per job, without even considering a few alternative projects.

The cost to public health, restrictions on other bay activity, heightened terrorism interest and attendant security costs are nowhere to be found in the plan. Nor are there any restrictions on military, weapon, nuclear material, or hazardous chemical shipments. Read the rest of this entry »

“Now we know what it’s worth,” Commissioner Steve Radack told the standing room-only crowd of observers. “We can erect a sign on the toll road that says, `Not for Sale.'”

Goldman Sachs’s Conflicts of Interest Convulse Chicago, Indiana
By Eddie Baeb and Justin Baer

July 17, 2006 (Bloomberg) — If you want to know about conflicts of interest at Goldman Sachs Group Inc., just ask Chicago’s city government.

Goldman, the world’s most profitable securities firm, was a frontrunner to advise Chicago on the potential sale of Midway Airport after helping the city lease a toll highway last year. That was until April, when Dana Levenson, Chicago’s chief financial officer, read about Goldman’s plan to buy an airport company in Europe that might eventually bid for Midway. Within a day, he called Goldman to complain and in May told the New York- based firm that it wouldn’t get the assignment.

“It’s an obligation we have to taxpayers,” said Levenson, who denied Goldman a formal interview at his office and hired Credit Suisse Group. “If we think anything could hinder us from maximizing proceeds, we have to fix the situation. And that may involve making sure our advisers don’t have conflicts.”

A growing number of U.S. public officials are asking how an adviser charged with selling assets at the highest price can play the role of investor at the same time, seeking to buy them for as little as possible. Like Levenson, 49, administrators in Indiana, Oregon and Texas are getting wise to Wall Street’s efforts and forcing firms to choose between fees and investment returns. Read the rest of this entry »

“An earlier proposal called for a big expansion of its marine terminals to handle container cargo. That brought major resistance at public meetings from nearby residents, who said a big upswing in port activities would hurt property values and their quality of life.”

Published: Wednesday, June 11, 2008
Port of Everett scales back expansion

The Port of Everett’s revised proposal targets niche markets and includes a new wharf.

By Mike Benbow
Herald Writer

EVERETT — The Port of Everett has narrowed its vision.

After angering some neighbors with a new comprehensive plan that called for a massive expansion of its container shipping terminals, the port as offered a much more modest proposal.

In its Tuesday meeting, port officials sought public comment on a new idea for updating growth plans that haven’t been changed since 1995.

An earlier proposal called for a big expansion of its marine terminals to handle container cargo. That brought major resistance at public meetings from nearby residents, who said a big upswing in port activities would hurt property values and their quality of life.

The new offering notes that “the trend to an ever increasing container traffic may, in fact, have peaked and that in the time the study had been underway significant new capacity was being planned and implemented at other West Coast ports: both factors that would direct the port away from creating a facility designed to compete directly with the major West Coast container ports.”

The new proposal, outlined Tuesday by Stan Cowdell of Westmar Consultants Corp., calls for what he described as consistent with the port’s “more modest measures” to position itself as a niche container and break bulk cargo port.

“It became really clear that the alternative (more development) would not be suitable on an economic basis or a community basis,” Cowdell said. Read the rest of this entry »

“Because this is a brand new business model, it goes against the grain. We don’t have a local market. We’re way up north. The jury was out to see if the service was going to work.”

Prince Rupert poised to triple its business

Nathan Vanderklippe,  Financial Post, with a file from Scott Deveau

Published: Thursday, May 22, 2008

 

VANCOUVER – Billed as the “St. Lawrence of the West,” the Port of Prince Rupert has spent the months since its grand opening last November dramatically under-performing expectations.

Its cranes are capable of off-loading 9,600 standard-sized containers a week. Until April, the sole shipping line that uses the port’s new container terminal delivered just 1,100 a week. In the past month, that number has risen to 1,800 weekly, still less than a fifth of capacity.

Prince RupertBut the faltering start, which comes largely thanks to a sluggish U. S. economy that has decreased container traffic to the entire Pacific coast by about 5%, could soon come to an end. Maher Terminals, the New Jersey-based operator of Prince Rupert’s Fairview container terminal, plans to triple the number of ships calling at the Northern B. C. port beginning in a month or so. Currently, only one ship a week calls there.

“There’s two new ships coming in June or July,” said Odd Eidsvik, a board member with the port.

It’s unclear whether the new ships will come from Cosco Container Lines or Hanjin Shipping Co., the shippers whose vessels currently sail to the port, or other members of the CKYH Alliance, which includes K-Line and Yang Ming Line.

But the boost in scheduled service lends weight to arguments from the port, railways and shippers, who all say the $170-million Fairview terminal weathered its first winter in remarkably good form, despite the low volumes.

“The terminal operation at Maher is just beyond our expectation,” Claude Mongeau, Canadian National Railway Corp. chief financial officer, said on a conference call yesterday. “Everything is humming from an operations standpoint.”

Ships have arrived and departed on schedule and, despite having relatively inexperienced crews, the new terminal has off-loaded containers at the rate of 22 an hour, “which is really quite impressive and very competitive for North America,” said Barry Bartlett, port spokesman.

“To be totally frank, we’re not going to be at the 500,000 [annual 20-foot container equivalent throughput] capacity as quickly as we thought we were, but it is getting there,” he said.

 

Read the rest of this entry »

America’s new FAST Track to Fascism

wakeupfromyourslumber.blogspot.com

“Every day on national cable, Lou Dobbs curses the steady flow of desperate migrant workers who cross our borders, laboring in exchange for increasingly worthless dollars. Meanwhile, under the radar, Goldman Sachs gives new meaning to the term “highway robbery” by facilitating the massive flow of foreign capital in exchange for American highways.”

Goldman Sachs & Co., which made $9 million [!!!] advising Chicago on the Skyway sale and stands to collect about $20 million in fees for putting together the Indiana Toll Road deal, is raising a multibillion-dollar fund to buy infrastructure.
 

The Long and Short of It at Goldman Sachs

Published: December 2, 2007
The New York Times Online

“From what I have observed over the years, Goldman has a fascinating culture. It is sort of like what I imagine the culture of the K.G.B. to be. You always put the firm first. The long-ago scandal of the Goldman Sachs Trading Corporation, which raised hundreds of millions just before the crash of 1929 to create a mutual fund, then used the fund’s money to prop up stocks it owned and underwrote, was a particularly sad example. The fund, of course, went bust.

Now, obviously, Goldman Sachs does many fine deals and has many smart, capable people working for it. But it’s not the Vatican. It exists to make money for the partners and (much farther down the line) the stockholders. The people there are not statesmen. They are salesmen.

Read the rest of this entry »

“Innovative development structures could be considered, such as a coordinated concession process with the North Coast Railroad Authority in which the terminal project and rail corridor are granted under a single long-term agreement to a private sector investor and operator.”

Translation = Sell the port and railroad to Goldman Sachs. This is very real and don’t think it can’t happen.

 

 

MEDIA RELEASE
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 12, 2008

Humboldt Bay Harbor, Recreation and Conservation District Updated Draft Redwood Marine Terminal Business Plan Available for Review

Contact: David Hull 707 443-0801

The Humboldt Bay Harbor, Recreation and Conservation District (District) is pleased to announce that the Draft Redwood Marine Terminal Business Plan will be available for review starting on Friday, June 13, 2008 on the District’s website at www.humboldtbay.org

On February 28, 2008, the District’s Board of Commissioners heard an updated presentation of the Redwood Marine Terminal Feasibility Study by representatives of TranSystems, the consulting firm retained to produce the feasibility study and business plan. Written and oral comments on the draft Feasibility Study were taken by the Board of Commissioners at three Board meetings and over a 50-day comment period. At the February 28 meeting, TranSystems presented their updated report providing additional information based upon the comments received. At the conclusion of the presentation, the Board took action to receive and file the feasibility study and authorized TranSystems to proceed with preparation of a business plan for the Redwood Marine Terminal Development Option B.

Representatives of TranSystems are scheduled to make a presentation on the Draft Redwood Marine Terminal Business Plan at the District’s June 26, 2008 Board Meeting. This meeting will be held at 7:00 PM at the Wharfinger Building, Eureka Public Marina, 1 Marina Way, Eureka. A 30-day written comment period will follow this presentation.

The Redwood Marine Terminal Feasibility Study and Business Plan is a continuance of the District’s efforts to revitalize and diversify the maritime uses of the harbor portion of Humboldt Bay in an effort to create jobs, provide funding for the District’s recreation and conservation needs and stimulate the local economy. The first step in this process was the completion of the Harbor Deepening Project in 2000 that allowed Humboldt Bay to be competitive in Pacific Rim maritime shipping. Building on the deepening project, the Harbor Revitalization Plan was completed in 2003 and concluded that, although there were challenges, the Port of Humboldt Bay was viable for a variety of maritime uses. As a result, the District obtained the Redwood Marine Terminal between 2004-2006.

The District retained TranSystems in 2007 with funding from Humboldt County’s Headwaters Fund to conduct a site assessment, market evaluation, develop development options and business plan for the Redwood Marine Terminal property. These reports and the recommendations are available on the District’s website.

###

Redwood Marine Terminal Business Plan

Letter from Goldman Sachs

West Coast ports have sinking feeling

Soaring fuel prices, economic doldrums and rising competition raise fears that the Los Angeles and Long Beach complex could see a reversal of fortune.

By Ronald D. White, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

March 5, 2008

At Southern California’s twin ports, there is a growing feeling that the economic tide has begun to turn.

Imports are down. Experts expect another year of little or no cargo growth in 2008. And other harbors are getting serious about luring business away from Los Angeles and Long Beach, the nation’s largest seaport complex, and other West Coast ports. Competitors along the East and Gulf coasts, once content to take on whatever Los Angeles and Long Beach couldn’t handle, have embarked on major expansion projects. Billions of dollars are being spent to transform the Panama Canal so that it can handle the largest ships. In Canada, a port project once viewed as little more than a safety valve for times of congestion has been elevated to a national priority.

In response to the economic stresses, A.P. Moller-Maersk Group last year pulled about 30% of the vessels that the world’s biggest shipping line used to run between Asia and the U.S. West Coast, most of which had been routed through Los Angeles. There may be more to come from other companies.”

Read the rest of this entry »

The mood of a nation: Prince Rupert, B.C.

Joe Castaldo
Canadian Business Online,
April 10, 2008 
     
Outreach worker Myles Moreau takes a drive around Prince Rupert, B.C. Moreau has worked in town for more than 20 years, having watched the northern community’s economic decline first-hand. Even though he believes the port development will ultimately benefit the town economically, he’s concerned growth will attract more crime. 

 

The transformation of Price Rupert’s port has been drawing a lot of attention to the small community tucked away in northwestern British Columbia. The sleepy airport that normally receives a handful of flights a day was overwhelmed with private jets when the town celebrated the arrival of its first container ship late last year, recalls Prince Rupert Port Authority CEO Don Krusel. Calls from real estate speculators began a full two years before that, shortly after it was announced the port would be revitalized. The town is also on the radar of prominent real estate investor and author Ozzie Jurock. He’s called it one of the most important cities of the 21st century. (He also expects some spillover in nearby Prince George, by the way.)

But people who actually live in Prince Rupert have a different perspective. “The port is not making us a boom town. We’re not Fort McMurray,” says realtor Allen Moore. Prince Rupert is constrained in a few ways, not the least of which is physical: it’s on an island with a mountain smack dab in the middle of it. A total of 13 housing starts were recorded between 2005 and 2007, and access isn’t the greatest either, since the airport is located on a separate island. Upon arrival at the airport, luggage is unceremoniously tossed into the back of a truck and visitors board one of two buses that are driven onto a ferry for the 10-minute journey across an inlet to Prince Rupert.

But the town doesn’t need to become another Fort McMurray; reversing the population decline would be cause enough for celebration. (Prince Rupert, with a current population of less than 13,000, lost nearly 2,000 people between 2001 and 2006.) There are still many opportunities to be exploited, as well, such as what the shipping industry calls “back haul.” The containers coming into Prince Rupert are filled with goods, but most of them go back empty. Obviously, that’s not efficient.

“We have to move up the value chain,” Krusel says. “Figure out what the economies of Asia require and what we have to offer, and fill these containers.” Forestry towns, Krusel suggests, could use two-by-fours to build modular homes to ship to Asia. The Alcan plant in Kitimat, B.C. is already shipping aluminum ingots to Asia through Prince Rupert. Not only could back haul benefit other industries in Canada by reducing transportation times, but it will help the port attract another shipping line, Krusel says.

There are traditionalists in Prince Rupert, however, like outreach worker Myles Moreau. Sure, he wants the town to improve economically, but he’s worried about the crime that could be attracted. And, as he strolls through the downtown shopping mall with its many vacant shops, he expresses doubts about just how much the city can grow. “This used to be a park,” he says. “And look—a lot of the stores are just empty.”

 

New port in B.C. may pose threat
But timing of its debut isn’t ideal

By KRISTEN MILLARES YOUNG
Seattle Post-Intelligencer Reporter

 

Up north in the B.C. Prince Rupert Port Authority, a new business model is blooming. Rather than sending goods through where people are, shipping companies allied with Beijing-based COSCO are shipping containers through where people aren’t to cut down on congestion and community kickback.

It’s a promising prospect for many shippers, who nonetheless are, by and large, taking a wait-and-see approach. The $170 million Prince Rupert terminal is the first phase of a multipronged development that aims to take the rural port to a capacity of 2 million TEUs, or 20-foot-equivalent units, the standard measure for containerized trade volumes.

But the port’s timing has been poor. Its container terminal, run by Maher Terminals, which also operates terminals at New Jersey’s Port of Elizabeth, can handle up to 500,000 TEUs per year. But since COSCO began its first weekly call at Prince Rupert in November, it and its partners have brought about 43,000 TEUs through the fledgling port, far short of projections. COSCO quit the Port of Seattle’s Terminal 18 but still calls at Terminal 46.

COSCO has increased its freight through Prince Rupert — from about 1,100 TEUs per week to about 1,900 TEUs per week, according to Prince Rupert Port Authority Chief Executive Don Krusel, who said the answer as to whether they could operate as advertised “is a resounding yes.”

“Obviously, because we are a new port that had never handled containers before, the entire logistics chain had been untested,” Krusel said, noting that the port had believed that it would reach its capacity within two years.But the port opened as the U.S. economy was softening, and the results have been less of a splash than originally envisioned — which doesn’t detract from the port’s long-term implications for its southern competitors.

In Seattle on Wednesday, University of Washington assistant professor Anne Goodchild said that although Prince Rupert is indeed closer to Asia than any other North American port, that may not prove to be that advantageous because of the shipping companies’ West Coast trade routes and the reliance on rail, one mode of transport from the port to market.

Prince Rupert’s rural location reduces congestion, but it also provides shippers with few other incentives.

Now that the explosion of goods from Asia has hit the brakes owing to the U.S. economic slowdown, West Coast ports may be scrapping for bits of trade’s largesse.

Port of Seattle Chief Executive Tay Yoshitani has said the Seattle seaport’s decline of years past, after a 40 percent volume increase during 2004 and 2005, will continue through 2007 to reflect the 5 percent to 7 percent expected slowdown in growth.

Discretionary cargo — which forms the bulk of containerized goods flowing through the Puget Sound ports — is loaded onto rail cars heading to the American heartland rather than being distributed locally, making the point of entry flexible — hence discretionary, for the shippers.

All that competition means that Seattle’s port prices need to remain competitive, Goodchild said.

Port of Seattle Seaport Managing Director Charlie Sheldon said the port considers Prince Rupert a major threat.

“If cargo keeps growing at 10 percent a year, then you can all live with the fantasy that a rising tide lifts all boats,” Sheldon said. “But cargo is down … so that means that a rising tide does not raise all boats.”

America weighs in on the future of Prince Rupert super-port
By Miro
Vancouver Sun
Friday, May 30, 2008

VANCOUVER – The dreamers behind Canada’s Pacific Gateway, a 21st-century version of the St. Lawrence Seaway now taking shape on the West Coast, got a bit of a scare a few days ago.
Barack Obama, the man who might very well be the next man to occupy the White House, seemed to be trying to kill the dream of transforming Prince Rupert into a truly global port. Obama is speaking out against a $300-million deal designed to extend the Port of Prince Rupert’s reach deep into the U.S. industrial heartland.

The Illinois Senator is throwing his weight behind a small village outside of Chicago that doesn’t want Canadian National Railway Co. to buy up the Elgin, Joliet and Eastern Railway. The intent is to avoid the bottleneck of Chicago by going through Barrington Village, and get the trains to Memphis, Tenn., cutting 17 hours of travel time. But that would dramatically expand train traffic through the area. Obama, known for both his protectionist sentiment and grassroots politicking in Chicago, had this to say about he project: “Cities and towns … along the EJ &E line must be assured their commerce and their safety are not imperilled by slow-moving trains that could be as much as two miles in length.”

Other members of Congress are weighing in with their opposition as well, hoping to derail the $300-million deal, which is now before the U.S. Surface Transportation Board. The crux of their argument is that the 198-mile railway includes 130 crossings and creates a safety hazard, and will alter the nature of the community. With trains as long as two miles in length constantly trundling through Chicago suburbs, it’s also expected that billions of dollars will need to be spent on new infrastructure, such as underpasses and bridges. Senator Obama and others want to foot the bill.

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Retooling the economic engine

By Heather B. Hayes 
Published on February 4, 2001

Given the extended economic expansion of the last decade, it’s easy to forget that some communities didn’t get their fair share of the spoils. Take Coos Bay. This quiet, pristine community of 40,000 residents on Oregon’s southern coast had long bet its economic fortunes on logging and fishing. But in the early 1980s, due to new federal restrictions and other factors, those industries fell into a slow but steady decline and never recovered.

The results have been double-digit unemployment rates, massive underemployment for workers who chose to stay, decreased tax revenues and increased social problems — a situation that even the town’s most optimistic residents refer to as “really sad.”

A year ago, however, Coos Bay took its first step into the New Economy and — town officials hope — a first step toward economic recovery.

Thanks to a few lucky breaks and its own proactive approach, the community landed CyberRep.coM Inc., a Virginia-based call center operation that provides toll-free help for customers of, among others, Microsoft Corp.’s MSN online service and barnesandnoble.com LLC.

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