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“Everybody expects 2009 to be a bleak year. Now, it looks like 2010 is going to be just as bleak.”

Idle ports signal two ‘bleak’ years ahead in world trade
 Loss of financing threatens sector that accounts for 25% of world economy

 Chris Lytle, chief operating officer of the port of Long Beach, Calif., took in a panorama of the slumping world economy from his rooftop observation deck one day this month.

Shipping cranes stood still, truck traffic trickled and a cargo vessel sat idle, moored to a pier.

“You never see that,” Lytle said. “It’s quiet. Too quiet.”

Port traffic is slowing around the world — everywhere from North America to Asia — as a recession erodes consumer demand and the credit crisis chokes off loans to export-dependent companies. International trade is set to fall by more than two per cent next year, the most since the World Bank began measuring it in 1971. Idle ports are showing how quickly a collapse in trade can spread, undermining growth in each country it reaches.

September and October are typically Long Beach’s busiest months as U.S. retailers take deliveries for holiday sales. This year, September imports fell 15.8 per cent from a year earlier, October’s dropped 9.5 per cent, and November’s slid 13.6 per cent.

“Everybody expects 2009 to be a bleak year,” said Jim McKenna, chief executive officer of the Pacific Maritime Association, a San Francisco-based group representing dock employers at U.S. West Coast ports. “Now, it looks like 2010 is going to be just as bleak.”

Read the rest of the article >

Updated December 9, 2008 9:54:24 AM


The Port of Portland has suspended its search for a private investor to lease and operate its Terminal 6 container facility. 

Port officials decided to put the terminal concession process, which began earlier this year and was spearheaded by Morgan Stanley, on ice in light of economic conditions and tight capital and credit markets.

As recently as October, officials had said that the Columbia River port was on track for a final decision by the end of the year on proposals from about 10 potential partners for the long-term concession to operate up to 215 acres of the 428-acre facility.

They said at that time that the concession project would be unaffected by current economic and financial conditions because of its long-term nature — 50 years or more.

The move by the port was intended to take it out of direct operation of the container business at T-6. The terminal has never reached its full 700,000-TEU capacity while under port management.

Portland’s T-6 is the only remaining port-operated container facility on the West Coast.

“Even if growth continues as strongly as it has in recent years, any new trade will probably pass the West Coast by,” 

Ship cargo volume slumping at West Coast ports
George Raine, Chronicle Staff Writer
Sunday, November 30, 2008

Cargo volume at West Coast ports, after years of being dominant in U.S. maritime trade, is slumping, clearly the result of the worsening global economic crisis but also because Gulf Coast and East Coast ports are gaining favor, shipping industry executives say.

The first priority for the cargo container business, of course, is making good decisions in an economy in which consumers have zipped their wallets, orders are a fraction of what they were in good times, Asian factories are shuttered and unemployment rates are rising.

Long-term infrastructure improvements, including increased rail service and improved trucking conditions – as well as helping to cleanse the air at pollution-heavy, dangerous ports – will be necessary for the West Coast to hold on to market share amid ever-increasing competition from across the country, experts say.

Container cargo volumes moving through the West Coast ports fell again in October, and 2008 is now expected to be the slowest year since 2004, according to the National Retail Federation. Collectively, the decline at West Coast ports is more than 1 million containers so far this year, American Shipper magazine reported.


Read the rest of the story >

“This is another setback for US West Coast ports…”

Hanjin move another blow for US West Coast ports
By Martin Rushmere 
San Francisco 

Hanjin Shipping has signed a 30-year lease with the Jacksonville Port Authority for a US$300 million, 88-acre container terminal at Dames Point in northeast Florida. Expected to be up and running in 2011, it is expected to bring in $1 billion a year to local business, mostly from the 5,000 jobs that will be created, according to Jaxport officials.

This is another setback for US West Coast ports, which have been losing business as shipping lines focus on East Coast ports.


Read the rest of the story >

“Even if global trade returns to its formerly robust pace, Drewry said, “any new trade will probably pass the West Coast by. Volumes are unlikely to decline, but the days of strong growth on the Pacific Coast are behind us.”

Panama Canal expansion threatens some US ports
By Ronald D. White, Los Angeles Times-Washington Post News Service
Published: December 07, 2008, 23:3

Los Angeles: The slowdown in international trade has left the docks at the United States’ biggest seaport complex quieter than they’ve been in years.

Some workers, particularly non-union “casuals”, at the Los Angeles and Long Beach ports wait for shifts that never come. Automobiles and other merchandise pile up as consumers dig in for a long economic winter.

But the problems at the twin ports, along with smaller West Coast harbours, extend beyond the nation’s economic woes, maritime experts say, and changes on the horizon could leave the seaports struggling to keep customers.


Read the rest of the story >

“We are actually on the front end of a long-term structural change of business models where people are building their supply chains around California” for goods not destined for California,”

Is the Bloom Off California’s Rose? Some Say Yes.
US Gulf, East Coast ports vie to attract container cargo and business from the once-Golden State
The CalTrade Report

LOS ANGELES – 12/04/08 – The continuing global economic crisis, dreary retail sales, and increased efforts by US Gulf and East Coast ports to attract container cargo are severely impacting the volume of goods moving through California’s deep-water container ports, according to the monthly Port Tracker report released this week by the National Retail Federation (NRF). 
Overall, nationally cargo volume at the nation’s major retail container ports is expected to decline 6.5% in 2008 compared with 2007 as merchants carefully manage inventories in response to the nation’s slow economy.

Container cargo volumes moving through the West Coast ports fell again in October, and 2008 is now expected to be the slowest year since 2004, the report said. 

Import and export container volume moving through the Port of Los Angeles, the nation’s busiest box port, was off 3.9% for the 12-month period ending in October, while the Port of Long Beach, the nation’s second ranked port, was down 7.7% during the same period. 


Read the rest of the story >

Of cruise ships and other fishiness
November 13, 2008

The Humboldt Bay Harbor Commission is so excited about the latest Marine Terminal plan that it’s holding a meeting to hear from the public — on Friday night.

Friday night? Sounds suspicious. Maybe they hope no one will come.


More >

“When the Port of Humboldt Bay has only brought in one to two cruise ships per year over the past decade, it’s hard to imagine Eureka is suddenly going to become the next big thing for West Coast cruise ships.”

A real plan needs real numbers
The Times-Standard
Article Launched: 11/13/2008 01:33:12 AM PST

This Friday, the Humboldt Bay Harbor, Recreation, and Conservation District will take up for the second time a business plan by consultant TranSystems on how to make a proposed $36 million marine terminal pay.

And again, for the second time, the consultant used numbers that seem less based on reality than on arbitrary estimates based on what ports elsewhere are able to attract.

Not for the first time, the consultant depends too heavily on a gigantic spike in cruise ship traffic to make the project profitable. In the first version of the study, TranSystems estimated that the port would draw 43 cruise ships. In this revision, the consultant says 30 to 40.

When the Port of Humboldt Bay has only brought in one to two cruise ships per year over the past decade, it’s hard to imagine Eureka is suddenly going to become the next big thing for West Coast cruise ships.

Without some solid interest from real businesses and cruise lines, it appears less than wise to pursue doing the environmental analysis needed to build the terminal.

If, however, that interest can be secured, it’s certainly an effort that should come before the public for review, to see if such a project could yield real benefits for the community and the economy.

The harbor district should proceed cautiously and methodically while using real numbers — not vague and perhaps overly optimistic assumptions.

Final marine terminal report complete
The Times-Standard
Article Launched: 11/01/2008 01:16:20 AM PDT

A final business plan for turning the Redwood Dock in Samoa into a marine terminal is now available for review.

The plan can be viewed at the Humboldt Bay Harbor, Recreation and Conservation District’s Web site,, or at the district’s office at 601 Startare Dr. on Woodley Island between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.

The district board will hear a presentation by consultant TranSystems on Nov. 14.

Written and oral comments on the first draft business plan were taken by the board at five meetings and over a 64-day comment period ending Aug. 28. At the Nov. 14 meeting, TranSystems will present an updated report providing additional information based upon the comments received.

At the conclusion of the presentation, the board will consider receiving and filing the business plan and directing district staff to proceed with the environmental review process.

The board meeting will be held at the Wharfinger Building in Eureka at 7 p.m.


Read the rest of the article >

Grinding Out A New Trail
Re-sizing railroad track ballast saved money and natural resources.
By Richard Parrish — Construction Bulletin, 10/6/2008

It was difficult not to notice them. Monstrous pieces of equipment grinding up granite ballast made an incredible racket this past spring and summer as they moved slowly over an obsolete railroad bed between curtains of trees, brush, homes, businesses, and other buildings in the city of Wayzata, MN, a Lake Minnetonka community 20 miles west of Minneapolis. 

Residents and passersby knew a big change was afoot, literally and figuratively. With the opening of this project, the Three Rivers Park District (TRPD) has a brand-new 13-mile, hard-surface trail that’s expected to draw upwards of 70,000 walkers, runners, bikers, and inline skaters annually.


Read the rest of the article >


Consultant: Rails will aid port’s success

By Alexander Rich, Staff Writer
Friday, October 17, 2008 | 3 comment(s)

COOS BAY — Oregon International Port of Coos Bay officials don’t think the idled Coos Bay rail line is worth much, but they know it’s valuable for their future.

At a port commission meeting Thursday, consultants from Don Breazeale and Associates suggested Coos Bay could become the most competitive port on the West Coast — as long as it has rail service.

“We have to have a railroad to make that work,” said Jack Finholm, senior associate. “Access and egress is pretty difficult without the railroad.”

At the port’s request, Finholm and company president Don Breazeale met with 14 companies who deal with transpacific trade. Of those companies — such as Cosco, Evergreen and “K” Line — Breazeale said 85 percent felt the port should take over the railroad.

The consultants said there are many advantages to Coos Bay, including low-cost land, less congestion than Los Angeles and a shorter transit from Asian markets compared to Southern Californian ports.

That said, there are no guarantees businesses would come to the area, especially considering the aggressive sales and marketing organizations in California and Washington ports, Breazeale said. He recommended the port undertake a professional sales and marketing effort of its own to attract commodity, auto and, eventually, container ships.

But first, the port needs to resolve the rail line issue.

“The rail has got to be the answer,” Breazeale said. Read the rest of this entry »

Evergreen Pulp wants reduction of workforce and wages!

Kind of shocking news for most, but not for the workforce. We have seen the company cut back on small items like linen service to the purchasing of essential materials such as wood chips. Evergreen seems to have a cash flow problem. 

Our parent company Lee & Man Paper has went from a 52 week high of $37.00 a share to as low as $3.58 a share on the Hong Kong stock exchange. They had plant closures due to theBejing Olympics, and now the pulp market has went soft as well.

Locally, our union workers have been asked to take a 15% reduction in wages and to be prepared for temporary closures with layoffs of production workers. Along with this, the company has announced a reduction in hourly staff from 165 to 145. Read the rest of this entry »

U.S. Railroads Index Falls Most Since 1989 on Economy (Update3) 
By Angela Greiling Keane

Oct. 2 (Bloomberg) — Norfolk Southern Corp. paced declines among U.S. railroads, dragging a benchmark index to the biggest intraday drop in 19 years on concern that falling factory orders and commodity prices herald a drop in freight volume.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 Railroads Index, consisting of the four largest U.S. carriers, plunged 10 percent, the most ever based on Bloomberg data going back to Sept. 11, 1989. Read the rest of this entry »

“If you are someone who is sitting down with a spreadsheet, and looking at how many containers will come this year, that’s going to push this back a bit,”

Transport The U.S. financial crisis could spell trouble for the Atlantic Gateway project
Ben Shingler

FREDERICTON – The deepening financial crisis and looming recession in the United States may hold up plans for the Maritimes to become a transatlantic shipping gateway, economists say.

Workers at Ceres watch a container being loaded aboard the Hong Kong Express in Halifax Thursday. Halifax handles about half a million containers a year, but the city’s two terminals have the potential to handle 1.4 million containers, nearly three times that amount.

Experts have long predicted an increase in global trade could lead to a doubling of shipments to North America over the next 15 years, from approximately 50 million containers annually to 100 million.

The log-jam of container traffic at popular west coast ports presented Halifax with an opportunity to grab a slice of the growing shipping market.

Many hoped the Port of Halifax, and the Maritime region as a whole, could become a premier destination for Asian goods travelling through the Suez Canal towards markets in eastern and central North America.

But David Chaundy, senior economist with the Halifax-based Atlantic Provinces Economic Council, said much of the bottlenecking at Pacific Coast ports has already been remedied by upgrading infrastructure. Read the rest of this entry »


Cold Storage: Interest In Port Facility Rises As Temperature Drops

Published: October 1, 2008

By Scott Graves
Pilot staff writer


The cold storage facility at the Port of Brookings Harbor on Monday was at minus 10 degrees and filling up fast as word of its renewed operation spread up and down the West Coast.

“We’re getting a much better response than I thought we would,” said Ted Fitzgerald, interim port manager.

That’s good news for a port struggling to raise revenue to pay off its massive debt. The port commission voted in September to turn its cold storage facility back on in an effort to make money. The $1.3 million facility was closed in 2004 after drawing nary a customer.

That changed this year when the closest cold storage facility, in Eureka, Calif., was closed down. A similar facility at the Crescent City Port closed years ago. Brookings port officials saw the closing of the Eureka facility as an opportunity to reclaim business it had lost to the other ports. Read the rest of this entry »

“It would seem that the district wants the public out of the loop when receiving controversial reports.”
Eureka Reporter
Published: Sep 19 2008, 11:46 PM · Updated: Sep 20 2008, 12:32 AM
Category: Opinion

Dear Editor,

The last Harbor Commission meeting was on Sept. 11. Did you know the agenda? I didn’t either, except at the last minute. I’m on their e-mail list. I usually get plenty of time to read the agenda, sometimes weeks in advance. This time, I was received the notice at 10:05 on the morning of the day of the meeting.

This last meeting was very important. Allan Hemphill, chairman of the North Coast Railroad Authority, gave a status report on the NCRA and discussed and answer questions about the railroad. We all want to know about the death/existence of the railroad. Having a working railroad is necessary for the industrialized port.

Hemphill basically said, the port has to come in first. No rail until the deep-water port is built. The problem, of course, is that no one will build a port unless the rail is there first.

Previous meetings have been packed with the majority of people commenting against the industrialized port.

Because public notice was not given according to practice, a large crowd was not expected and so the venue was Woodley Island. It seems obvious that the Harbor District did not want a large turnout.

Some clerical error in noticing the community or some dirty trick to ensure a low public turnout?

It would seem that the district wants the public out of the loop when receiving controversial reports.

What will the district pull out of its hat next? A port, a railroad or just a rabbit?

Jessica Puccinelli

“The first issue that needs to be addressed will be economic feasibility”

By CERENA JOHNSON, The Eureka Reporter
Published: Sep 12 2008, 11:35 PM · Updated: Sep 13 2008, 1:02 AM

Discussion returned to the future of the railroad at Thursday’s Humboldt Bay Harbor, Recreation and Conservation District meeting.

North Coast Railroad Authority Chairman Allan Hemphill provided the board with an update on current projects.

Currently, the NCRA is focused on reconstruction of the southern end of the line, with a $70 million reconstruction geared toward signals work, restoration of levees in Shellville and bridge reconstruction, Hemphill said.

As the harbor district has yet to reach a final decision on the Redwood Marine Terminal Project, Hemphill said there is “not much of a place to table” for the NCRA.

Once a decision is reached, Hemphill said, “we are required by staff to respond to that.”

The proposed marine terminal project includes construction of a multipurpose berth and long-term expansion dependent on operation of the railroad.

The way the process is set up, Hemphill said several issues need to be addressed.

“The first issue that needs to be addressed will be economic feasibility,” Hemphill said, along with assessing whether there is a sufficient traffic base.

Hemphill also said environmental issues need to be addressed in order to handle that traffic — in the case of the Eel River canyon, an environmental impact report — and said the question of where funds come from for restoration needs to be answered.

“We’re waiting for something to respond to,” he said.

Two years ago, the NCRA began the process of assessing the cost of fixing the canyon, starting an environmental review process and engaging an engineering company to do photo mapping to determine where problematic areas are, as well as a geo-tech study.

That is now in the final stages, Hemphill said, after which it will be delivered to the NCRA board and made available to the harbor district and public.

“I think it will finally answer some of the questions that have been hanging out there,” Hemphill said.

The harbor district board also continued discussion of the Goldman Sachs negotiations.

“We have not accepted their proposal because it does not cover items the board feel are necessary,” said Commissioner Roy Curless.

Curless said a lot of negotiating remains to be done between the board’s committee and Goldman Sachs.

“They’ve kind of come dead in the water,” Curless said.

The next step will be for Goldman Sachs to come up with a proposal that is accepted by the committee, which the committee would then bring to the board for fine-tuning, he said.

Read the story in the Eureka Reporter >

Chamber of Commerce to host coastal panel

The Greater Eureka Chamber of Commerce will welcome members of the California Coastal Commission following the chamber’s Sept. 10 meeting in Eureka. A reception for the members of the commission has been scheduled to begin at 5:30 p.m. and will be held at Eureka’s Avalon Restaurant and Bar.

Hors d’oeuvres will be prepared by Avalon’s staff, and an oyster barbecue will be grilled by Greg Dale of Coast Seafoods. The attire for the evening is business casual and the cost per person is $20 for chamber members and $30 for non-members.

The purpose of the reception is to welcome the commissioners and staff in order to give them an opportunity to meet with local community leaders. It is an opportunity to help the members of this commission become better acquainted with issues affecting the North Coast area.

Reservations are recommended, as attendance will be limited. Payment must be received by Sept. 5. For more information or to make reservations, phone the Eureka Chamber of Commerce office at 707-442-3738.

An important message from David Gurney
David Gurney spoke at last week’s HBHRCD meeting

It is apparent that Humboldt Bay is about to be blindsided by oil and gas development.

Pacific Gas and Electric Co. has staked claim to a 136 sq. mi. area of ocean right outside the mouth of the Humboldt Bay. They also have permits for 68 square miles off the Mendocino Coast, and are apparently in negotiation with the Minerals Management Service to lease even more large tracts of ocean, just outside of these huge areas. These tracts correspond to offshore oil drilling zones, that were under negotiation for Oil and Gas Lease/Sale # 91 back in 1988.

PG&E does not need such huge areas of ocean to test wave energy devices, and instead has the potential to “site sit” these locations, until such a time that the leases can be converted to natural gas and oil drilling permits. It says so in their permit documents.

Also documented is the fact that P.G.& E. has approached as two companies as consultants on their wave energy projects : Black & Veatch and CH2M Hill. Both are world-wide conglomerates engaged in natural gas and oil development.

Furthermore, Goldman Sachs has offered to lease and develop the marine terminal of Humboldt Bay, supposedly for the benefit of commerce and tourism. But Goldman Sachs is heavily involved in speculation on oil futures, and is in fact one of the major players in such speculation, and thus could have a serious conflict of interest in what is best for the Bay and the citizens of Eureka.

I believe that Goldman Sachs, along with PG&E and their consultants have the potential to turn Humboldt Bay into a scene similar to Martinez in the East Bay, with refineries, natural gas processing facilities, cogeneration plants and storage tanks, not to mention tanker traffic. Read the rest of this entry »

And why should we believe we will ever have one?

San Diego Green Port Program

A Green Port Program was developed by the Port of San Diego to support the goals of the Environmental Sustainability Policy that was approved by the Board of Port Commissioners in 2007. The ultimate goal of the program is to achieve long-term environmental, societal and economic benefits through resource conservation, waste reduction and pollution prevention.

 The Green Port Program unifies the Port’s environmental sustainability goals in six key areas. Overseen by the Green Port Program Steering Committee, the Port sets measurable goals and evaluates progress in each area on an annual basis. The Green Port Program both continues the Port’s existing environmental efforts and expands these efforts through new programs and initiatives.


Water: Improve water quality in San Diego Bay. Reduce the Port’s water usage to preserve San Diego’s water supply.

Energy: Conserve energy and maximize energy efficiency of Port operations.

Air: Reduce greenhouse gas contributions and other air emissions from Port operations.

Waste Management: Reduce waste from Port operations through material reuse, recycling and composting.

Sustainable Business Practices: Give equal weight to environmental, economic and social concerns in the decision-making process.

Sustainable Development: Enhance the environmental performance of Port buildings while maximizing long-term economic benefits.


Long Beach Green Port Policy

The Green Port Policy is an aggressive, comprehensive and coordinated approach to reduce the negative impacts of Port operations. The Green Port Policy, which the Board adopted in January 2005, serves as a guide for decision making and established a framework for environmentally friendly Port operations. The policy’s five guiding principles are:

Protect the community from harmful environmental impacts of Port operations.

Distinguish the Port as a leader in environmental stewardship and compliance.

Promote sustainability.

Employ best available technology to avoid or reduce environmental impacts.

Engage and educate the community.


The Green Port Policy includes six basic program elements, each with an overall goal:

Wildlife – Protect, maintain or restore aquatic ecosystems and marine habitats.

Air – Reduce harmful air emissions from Port activities.

Water – Improve the quality of Long Beach Harbor waters.

Soils/Sediments – Remove, treat, or render suitable for beneficial reuse contaminated soils and sediments in the Harbor District.

Community Engagement – Interact with and educate the community regarding Port operations and environmental programs.

Sustainability – Implement sustainable practices in design and construction, operations, and administrative practices throughout the Port.

Why don’t we have a Green Port policy for Humboldt Bay today?

Find the “Green Port” on Humboldt Bay >

RAPIT forum.
I am for all Port and Rail development. I want a vibrant well organized Port with Rail plans. 


Robin and I went to the RAPIT meeting tonight. It was a one sided forum that needed a more consistent agenda. There were lot’s off the wall commentary and disorganization. Obviously someone was making a play on the environment by handing out “green” support cards to be sent to the Humboldt Bay Harbor, Recreation and Conservation District Commissioners. Robin was disturbed by the postcard saying “I support environmentally responsible development. Let’s make ours the first GREEN port and railroad in America.” She felt it was bold statement with no back-up information to back up this. What qualifies this statement? What makes our potential developed bay green, and what makes other ports not green. If that is the case, why did they skirt around the question of erosion during dredging and release of ballast organism. And where on the card is the mention of the RAPIT forum? Bill Bertain said RAPIT is a task force? Are they? And who is the on the front of the card?

Bill Bertain was the moderator for this forum, with a bias. Made the comment it would take 72 million in 1998 dollars to revitalize the railroad. May be more in now dollars. I think Bill is a great guy, but he needed to stay on task. If you have not been part of this process, I can see where you could get lost. Read the rest of this entry »

“no one expected that the contribution from ships of solid sulphur-rich particles called primary sulphate would be so high.”

Pollution from ships causing thousands of deaths
Sulphur particles from ships may be responsible for as many as 60,000 deaths a year, say US scientists
Tuesday August 19 2008 09:51 BST

Sea air is generally regarded as healthy, but it may be polluted with dangerous chemicals from ships, say scientists.

Dirty smoke pouring out of the funnels of ships at sea or in port is having a major impact on the air quality of coastal cities, a study has found.

Researchers used a chemical fingerprinting technique to identify “primary sulphate” in ship emissions. This consists of tiny sulphur particles, less than 1.5 microns across, which can be carried long distances on the wind.

Breathed in, they lodge deep inside the lungs and pose a serious health hazard. It is estimated that ship pollution may be responsible for as many as 60,000 deaths a year worldwide.

The US scientists from the University of California at San Diego (UCSD) found that ships contributed far more of the sulphate in the atmosphere than was previously realised. Their analysis separated primary sulphate from ship smoke and other sources, such as vehicle exhaust emissions.

Air samples showed that 44% of the sulphate polluting coastal California could be traced to ships. On some days ship sulphate accounted for almost a half of the fine particles in the air. Ships burning high sulphur fuel in the ports of Los Angeles, Long Beach and San Diego were largely to blame, the scientists discovered.

Primary sulphate is produced when ships burn a cheap sulphur-rich fuel called “bunker oil”. The particles are believed to be especially harmful to human health because of their small size.

Read the rest of the article >

Action Alert!!   

Speak out to protect Humboldt Bay and the community!

Attend the RAPIT Meeting THIS WEDNESDAY 8/20/2008 5:30 pm at the Wharfinger Building in Eureka.

The Rail and Port Infrastructure Taskforce (RAPIT) will be holding a forum this Wednesday at 5:30 at the Wharfinger Building in Eureka to discuss the development of Humboldt Bay as an industrial port.  Speakers will include:

   David Hull, CEO, Humboldt Bay Harbor District.

   A representative from Ports America AIG.

   A legislative representative from the ILWU (longshoremen’s union).

   Mitch Stogner, executive director, North Coast Railroad Authority.

   Humboldt Bay Mariculture industry leaders.

This industry-driven forum is being held to garner support for the development of the Redwood Marine Terminal Project, which would bring an industrialized container shipping facility to Humboldt Bay.  This project will bring with it a host of environmental problems with it including impacts to the Bay from increased dredging, unregulated air pollution, and unregulated water quality impacts from ballast water and increased the likelihood of a major oil spill occurring in Humboldt Bay that would devastate the Bay and the coastal waters. 

Please Come And Speak For The Bay And The Community!

After 100 years of industrial activity around Humboldt Bay, the community is looking for clean industry that protects the health of the Bay and the community and supports our quality life here on the north coast.

Tell The Harbor District You Do Not Support The Business Plan For The Redwood Marine Terminal Project!

Currently, the Humboldt Bay Harbor, Recreation, and Conservation District is accepting public comment on the development of the Redwood Marine Terminal on the shores of Humboldt Bay.  This project is focused on the re-industrialization of Humboldt Bay by bringing polluting container ships to the Bay and resuming service by the defunct the North Coast Railroad to Humboldt Bay.  The business plan and feasibility study can be viewed at:

Your Comments Are Needed. Be part of the solution!

Call: (443-0801) or email the Humboldt Bay Harbor District


Tell them you DO NOT support the Redwood Marine Terminal Project.  Every voice counts!


“The railroads’ starting point in the discussion is that they don’t want to pay for anything,” he said. “There’s a stalemate. The railroads are the party-poopers who take all the fun out of the party.”

Port of Oakland’s rail plans can’t leave station
(The following story by Blanca Torres appeared on the San Francisco Business Times website on August 14.)

OAKLAND, Calif. — Every day, ships bring thousands of cargo containers to the Port of Oakland where they are transferred to either trucks or trains and slip quickly from view.

More than 450 miles away, rail freight crosses the Tehachapi mountain pass on its way to the Southeast. Donner Pass, almost 200 miles northeast of Oakland, is the main gateway to the Midwest. Improving these two arteries and moving forward with local projects could dramatically improve the port’s ability to increase volume and not lose business to other West Coast ports.

“The Port of Oakland could really grow if we could get the rail capacity we need down the line,” said Steve Gregory, a senior planner with the Port of Oakland.

The port wants to double its volume to about 5 million container units per year by 2020. Currently, the port moves about 2.4 million container units per year and more than 6,100 each day. Omar Benjamin, executive director of the port, believes now is the time to make major improvements and investments to ensure future growth. Read the rest of this entry »

L.A Biz Observed
Mark Lacter • Bio • Email

July traffic at the Port of Los Angeles fell 2.54 percent from a year earlier, while the Port of Long Beach saw a 12.9 percent decline. The pattern all year has been big drops in container boxes coming in and big increases in boxes going out (reflecting the weak dollar). Trouble is, the volume of imports is far greater than the volume of exports so overall traffic has been down. To some extent, the sluggishness also reflects more shipping lines bypassing the two major West Coast ports by using the Panama Canal for delivery to the Gulf Coast and East Coast. Another factor is the comparison with the first part of 2007, when business was still pretty good.

Year to date, L.A. traffic is down 6.13 percent, while Long Beach is down 9.4 percent. There’s no telling when we might see bottom, though the Economic Development Corp. projects a 4.5 percent decline for all of 2008. If you’re getting OD’d on the often conflicting economic data coming out of Washington, these port numbers are worth keeping an eye on. Our economy, like it or not, is based on the willingness and ability of American consumers to buy stuff – and when there’s less and less stuff coming in, it means the country is still not in a spending mood. Here is the L.A. breakout and here are the Long Beach numbers.

 “I am opposed to this project….It encroaches on my railroad….You have no right to take this railroad track and turn it into a trail.”

Can the railroad reign in its operator?
Wed, 08/13/2008
Chris Rall

Discussions at the North Coast Railroad Authority (NCRA) meeting today seemed to indicate that the Board of Directors is making strides to meet trail advocates somewhere in the middle while the operator, Northwest Pacific Railroad (NWP), headed by John Williams, doesn’t have much interest in a cooperative relationship with trail advocates.

We’ve had our differences with the Board when it comes to the feasibility of rebuilding and maintaining the railroad from Willits up to Humboldt Bay, but in agreeing to disagree, we are seeing some trail progress. The Board continues to move slowly toward railbanking the Annie and Mary section of the Railroad from Arcata to Blue Lake to create a trail there, has directed staff to create guidelines for rail-with-trail projects, and will likely provide a letter of support for Arcata to commence a planning process for a rail-with-trail project along the railroad corridor in Arcata, possibly connecting with the Annie and Mary Trail, and continuing south to the Arcata Marsh.

But for some reason, John Williams of the NWP doesn’t see trail development as a good way for the railroad to gain public support. He has entered a lease to operate the southern portion of the line and has an option to operate the Eel River and Humboldt Bay sections.

Read the rest of Chris’s excellent reporting on the NCRA meeting >

“It appears that the consultants produced a plan that told the commissioners and their staff what they wanted to hear.”

Concerns over Redwood Marine Terminal Business Plan
Mike Zeppegno/For the Times-Standard
Article Launched: 08/13/2008 01:27:20 AM PDT

I want to take this opportunity to voice my concern over the business plan from TranSystems for the proposed marine terminal. I have read all the various reports, plans, and proposals that are on the harbor district’s Web site. I have also followed the public discussions at the Humboldt Bay Harbor, Recreation and Conservation District meetings, letters to the editor, and other pertinent info found in our local media. In my opinion the harbor district paid TranSystems $100,000 for a business plan that is short in providing essential details. It appears that the consultants produced a plan that told the commissioners and their staff what they wanted to hear. Objective analysis was not part of their deliverable. As I reviewed the business plan I could not believe how lacking it was in providing accurate analysis on projected harbor revenue streams. The district is looking at a $36 million project without the benefit of an objective cost analysis. Where is the basis for a return on investment (ROI)?

I worked for IBM for 24 years and spent another 15 years as a senior executive at a small computer hardware, software, and consulting company. During this time I have prepared, reviewed, and presented numerous business plans. If I produced the type of document being used as a proposal for the district in my work I would have lost credibility with my superiors.

The advice and training I received in my career in the technology industry stressed the need forquantitative analysis which included factors like pay back and return on investment (ROI).

I have listened to all the arguments on both sides: The need for jobs, environmental issues, growth versus no growth, and railroad viability. What it comes down to for me is the business plan makes no financial sense. The plan as submitted by TranSystems is too speculative. I was pleased to hear Dennis Hunter at the last HBHRCD meeting asking for more specifics from the consultants on whether jobs would go to locals, how the project would protect/improve the environment, and stimulate the local economy.

Questions like these, and accurate projections of trade through 2015, plus a real assessment on cruise ship traffic need to be addressed.

Read the rest of the story >

From the Humboldt Bay Stewards form Tursday, August 12, 2008.

Forum coverage at Greenwheels >

The Humboldt Bay Harbor Recreation and Conservation District often refers to Humboldt Bay as the 2nd largest bay in California. That is true. However it can be misleading as Humboldt is in reality a fraction of the size of the largest – San Francisco Bay.

Click on the diagrams to enlarge.

Bay comparison

Bay comparison

Another comparison of scale. Below is a diagram comparing a state of the art shipping crane (as purchased by the Port of Oakland in 2005. The crane is 240+ feet tall. It is unknown how large the cranes at the Redwood Dock would be.


Shipping crane size comparison

Shipping crane size comparison



Looking at the Future of Humboldt Bay
as an International Shipping Terminal

The Humboldt Bay Stewards invites you to join us at this community forum

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

 Wharfinger Building
1 Marina Way in Eureka


Join us in exploring the proposed Redwood Dock Marine Terminal that the Humboldt Bay Harbor, Recreation and Conservation District is negotiating with Goldman Sachs.

Our speakers will summarize the project and discuss the impacts on the natural resources and societal values of our community.

An opportunity for questions and answers will follow the presentations.

The goal of the evening is to engage the community in this important decision for our future.

We can only plan together by working together.



“Meanwhile, all U.S. ports covered by Port Tracker… are rated “low” for congestion, the same as last month.

For Immediate Release
Press Contacts:
NRF: J. Craig Shearman (202) 626-8134
Global Insight: Paul Bingham (202) 481-9216

Four Percent Drop Projected for 2008 Retail Container Traffic

WASHINGTON, August 7, 2008 – Cargo volume at the nation’s major retail container ports is expected to decline 4 percent in 2008 compared with 2007 because of the nation’s slow economy, according to the monthly Port Tracker report released today by the National Retail Federation and Global Insight.

Volume is projected to total 15.8 million Twenty-Foot-Equivalent Units for the year, compared with 16.5 million TEU in 2007. Cargo volume each month this year has been below the same month last year, and is expected to continue to be below last year’s levels in each remaining month except October and December. One TEU is one 20-foot container or its equivalent.

“This has been a very challenging year, and cargo volume reflects consumer demand as retailers work to keep inventory as tight as possible in order to keep supply and demand in balance,” NRF Vice President for Supply Chain and Customs Policy Jonathan Gold said. “If merchants can avoid having excess merchandise on hand it means they can avoid the need for unplanned markdowns to clear their shelves, especially after the holiday season.”

U.S. ports surveyed handled 1.3 million TEU in June, the most recent month for which actual numbers are available. The number was down 0.3 percent from May and10.3 percent from June 2007.

July was estimated at 1.37 million TEU, down 5.2 percent from a year ago, and August is forecast at 1.42 million TEU, down 2.7 percent. September is forecast at 1.4 million TEU, down 4.9 percent, but October is forecast to be up 1.1 percent at 1.46 million TEU. October should be the peak month of the year, though it will fall short of the 1.48 million TEU peak for 2007 set last September. November is forecast at 1.37 million TEU, down 0.3 percent, and December at 1.32 million TEU, up 3.4 percent.

Meanwhile, all U.S. ports covered by Port Tracker – Los Angeles/Long Beach, Oakland, Seattle and Tacoma on the West Coast; New York/New Jersey, Hampton Roads, Charleston and Savannah on the East Coast, and Houston on the Gulf Coast – are rated “low” for congestion, the same as last month.

Read the rest of the article >