Searchable Goods Movement Timeline

Welcome to the METRANS Goods Movement Timeline. This is a searchable timeline of activities tied to goods movement, logistics and international trade based upon items from the popular press.

Given our location and the importance of this region as an international trade gateway, many of the entries pertain to Southern California. We do however draw from state and national press as well. Some articles' links may have expired, or you may have to pay a fee or register on the Web site where they originally appeared to access the complete article. Our goal however is to provide the researcher with enough information to track significant events over time as they have occurred in key areas like legislation, finance, and security.

This timeline grew out of timelines initially developed for METRANS research projects in the area of goods movement. Earlier entries (before 2005) were therefore not prepared with a searchable database in mind and will be less detailed. We hope, however, that they remain a useful resource.

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Feb 10, 2017

Dockworker lottery is ‘false dream,’ says longshore workers’ union leader

Online Edition

The high-profile drawing for part-time jobs that could lead to full-time positions pulling in more than $100,000 a year creates a “false dream,” the head of the powerful Southern California dockworkers’ union said Friday.

The Pacific Maritime Association, representing shippers and terminals at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, insists the rare lottery prevents labor shortages by creating a ready pool of fill-in workers. The jobs start at about $25 an hour, but wages increase with experience. More appealing to applicants, however, is that the jobs can provide a path for workers to secure full-time union employment.

But union officials, who agreed to the drawing, say current freelancers, known as “casuals,” have been waiting and working for more than a decade in hopes of snagging a union gig.

“You’re winning a ticket to a false dream,” said Bobby Olvera Jr., president of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 13, which represents about 7,000 full-time union workers at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. “There are 5,000 (casuals) down there getting work two days a week.”

Olvera worries that bringing in more casuals allows the PMA — which negotiates and administers labor agreements with the ILWU on behalf of dozens of shipping companies and terminal operators — to dilute the talent pool and pay newer freelance workers less.

PMA spokesman Wade Gates wrote in a statement that terminal employers and the ILWU “work together to maintain a balanced approach on the number of full-time registered workers needed at the ports, as well as the number of approved casual workers.”

“These decisions are based on projected cargo volumes, gradual attrition in the workforce and other factors,” he stated. “Obviously, too many positions dilute the work opportunities for the individuals involved, and too few available workers can limit the ports’ ability to meet cargo-handling needs.”

Olvera maintains that there are too many casual workers for the shifts that are available.

“There is zero labor shortage,” he said, noting that he’s not heard a single case of jobs not getting fulfilled on the docks because there aren’t enough hands to handle it.

There are about 5,000 casuals who pick up intermittent work at a dispatch center in Wilmington.

About 46 percent of those casuals trained and approved to work make themselves available during any given week last year, according to the PMA. And those casuals worked on average 1.6 eight hour shifts per week.

The ILWU and PMA share a long history of contentious relations. Labor strife hobbled trade in 2014 and 2015 during bitter contract talks.

Most recently, the two have been locked in a dispute over the lottery process after some hopefuls who had filled out cards and mailed them in had them returned to their homes. The ILWU initially refused to participate in the drawing.

The lottery was temporarily halted earlier this week until an arbitrator ruled the process must go forward. The ILWU appealed the decision. Its appeal will be heard during a hearing Tuesday.

Meantime, InterOptimis, a business-services company based in Moorpark, is counting and verifying an estimated 80,000 submissions.

The last drawing was held in 2004, when about 18,000 names were pulled. Most eventually went into the casual pool. After years of waiting for full-time work, many frustrated casuals dropped out.

Olvera said the last time the PMA hired casuals on as full-time union members was in 2015, when 600 workers were hired.

In this round, the first 2,400 names picked will be eligible for the freelance positions.

Online Edition

The high-profile drawing for part-time jobs that could lead to full-time positions pulling in more than $100,000 a year creates a “false dream,” the head of the powerful Southern California dockworkers’ union said Friday.

Feb 07, 2017

Drawing for lucrative LA and Long Beach port jobs is back on — for now

Online Edition

A much-anticipated drawing for freelance dockworker positions — jobs that could lead to lucrative union positions down the road — appeared to be back on Tuesday, despite objections by union officials that the effort had been botched.

The actual drawing should begin in a couple of days, an official said Tuesday.

“Moving forward,” said a text from Mondo Porras, vice president of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, Local 13 that represents about 7,000 dockworkers.

The process had been set to begin a day earlier, but local union officials refused to participate amid concerns that many of the mail submissions never got into the drawing.

After the ILWU local filed a complaint about irregularities, an arbitrator that handles disputes between the union and its employer, the Pacific Maritime Association, intervened late Monday, ordering the count to proceed for now.

But, Porras said, the union has appealed that order and the appeal is set to be heard Feb. 14.

He said the union was motivated by members who last week voted to stop the count after a “large number of cards were returned to sender,” he said.

Most of those cards, known as “interest cards,” are referral forms given to union members and officials that generally are then submitted by friends and family members of union workers. Hopefuls fortunate enough to get a referral stand a much better chance of being selected.

“Process is going,” PMA spokesman Wade Gates said in an email.

“Counting and verifying first,” Gates said. “The actual drawing may not start for a couple of days.”

The rare drawing for the jobs at the Los Angeles and Long Beach ports has drawn widespread interest. An estimated 80,000 entries will be counted and verified by InterOptimis, a business-services company based in Moorpark.

The winners will be offered part-time work as “casuals,” who fill in shifts when union workers are not available. The possibility of moving on to a full-time union position — one that can net more than $100,000 a year and get top-of-the line health insurance — emerges as the workers gain more seniority.

Considered among the best blue-collar jobs in country, the jobs aren’t easy to come by. Only the first 2,400 names picked during this lottery will be screened to become casuals. The rest will be called in sequential order on an as-needed basis.

The last time the union and PMA held a drawing in the Los Angeles area was in 2004 and many of those casuals are still waiting for a shot at a regular union job.

Online Edition

A much-anticipated drawing for freelance dockworker positions — jobs that could lead to lucrative union positions down the road — appeared to be back on Tuesday, despite objections by union officials that the effort had been botched.

The actual drawing should begin in a couple of days, an official said Tuesday.

“Moving forward,” said a text from Mondo Porras, vice president of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, Local 13 that represents about 7,000 dockworkers.

Feb 12, 2017

Uncertain times cloud zero-emission dreams for ports of LA, Long Beach

Online Edition

 

Over more than a decade, taxpayers have forked out millions of dollars to pay for environmentally friendly equipment to help improve the air quality around the nation’s busiest ports.

Many of the exhaust-spewing vehicles chugging into coastal cargo hubs at Los Angeles and Long Beach have disappeared, replaced with cleaner-burning alternatives. Pollutant levels have plummeted. And visits to the hospital for asthma have declined.

Can the ports reduce pollution further? Experts say it’s like a dieter trying to lose the last stubborn five pounds — now comes the hardest part.

Despite all the improvement, the port corridor remains the largest stationary source of pollution in the region.

“There was a lot of low-hanging fruit,” said Chris Cannon, director of environmental management at Port of Los Angeles. “Now the low-hanging fruit is gone. It is going to be much harder to achieve emission reductions.”

And the road to greener ports is getting more tangled:

• The effort to replace mammoth fossil fuel-powered gear with electric engines is expensive.

• A new administration is shaking things up in Washington. It’s unclear if a new president and new leadership at the Environmental Protection Agency will embrace the alternative fuel boom fostered by President Barack Obama.

• Closer to home, Gov. Jerry Brown last year ratcheted up his expectations for a zero-emissions future for the state’s industry.

• Environmentalists demand fast action and goals with shorter timetables — while organized labor is slow to embrace any technology that could cut union jobs.

Amid all the hubbub, the ports have a plan, and they’re working to update it.

THE GREEN ROAD MAP

Zero-emission port operations, powered almost entirely by clean-burning gear, has long been the dream of California environmentalists who railed at the pollution-steeped past of the Los Angeles and Long Beach harbors.

That’s exactly what port leaders are attempting to move toward with their Clean Air Action Plan.

Officials are working on an update to their decade-old anti-pollution strategy, which they credit with helping to cut harmful diesel particulate matter linked to respiratory ailments by 85 percent.

The draft of the update, released in November, proposed a reduction in greenhouse gases to levels 80 percent below 1990 rates by 2050. Officials also want to slash emissions from ships and cargo-moving equipment such as cranes and forklifts.

The draft, however, rankled the very people who for more than a decade have been cleaning up the port.

Industry is weary of any new rules that will empty out its pocketbooks — such as a proposal that could place a fee on older trucks that call at the ports.

Indeed, converting to cleaner fuels won’t be cheap. The Pasha Green Omni Terminal Demonstration Project — replete with recharging solar battery stations and electric forklifts — broke ground at the Port of Los Angeles last year. The price tag: $26 million, $14.5 million of which would be paid largely through and cap-and-trade funds.

Consulting firm Moffat & Nichol estimates it would cost $23 billion for the two ports and Oakland to replace equipment with all zero- or near zero-emission technology.

Unions worry the ports’ drive to clean up will prompt officials to invest not only in greener technology but in computerized robotic equipment that could cost blue-collar union jobs.

The plan is advancing as regional air regulators look to update their own 15-year plan, which until now has relied heavily on voluntary compliance. Some on that board are pushing to slash emissions at the ports, too.

“It’s really a big challenge for us trying to find the balance, being protective of community health and reducing environmental impact, and at the same time remaining economically viable,” said Heather Tomley, director of environmental planning at the Port of Long Beach.

UNCERTAIN DAYS AT EPA

Further complicating matters is the new administration in Washington and what could be very different priorities at the EPA.

Under the Obama administration, big incentives helped alternative-fuel businesses flourish. In that wave, the ports benefited from millions of dollars to replace trucks and cranes.

While it’s not yet certain how President Donald Trump feels about alternative fuels, it’s clear he’s bullish about domestic oil.

Trump has promised to boost drilling and clear paths for major pipelines such as the Keystone and Dakota Access projects. And his cabinet includes appointees friendly to the oil industry.

Will Trump also extend Obama’s efforts to support green power? Boosting both isn’t out of the question. Officials from such industries as solar and wind power have tried to persuade the president that their businesses are booming. And that could gain favor with a business-buoying chief executive who promised the nation jobs.

“There is so much uncertainty on what is going to happen with the current administration, so we don’t know how funding or regulations are going to impact what we do here in California,” Weston LaBar, executive director of the Harbor Trucking Association. “Industry is not against clean technology, but the tech has to be affordable and commercially viable.”

Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, nominated to run the EPA, has a history of criticizing and suing the agency. Environmentalists cite his tight relationships with oil and gas industry executives who have donated to his political campaigns.

In the past, Pruitt has been quoted questioning the validity of global warming, a phenomenon Trump once declared a hoax.

But in response to questions from Democrats during his Senate confirmation hearing, Pruitt said he disagreed with Trump’s earlier claims that it is just Chinese propaganda intended to harm America’s economic competitiveness. “I do not believe climate change is a hoax,” Pruitt said.

Amid the debate, committee Republicans voted unanimously to send Pruitt’s nomination to a likely vote before the full Senate in the coming days. He is expected to be confirmed along largely party lines.

After that vote, the scene at the EPA — and Trump’s feelings about cleaner-burning fuels — should become clearer. And then perhaps port officials might know if they can count on rekindled incentives to help fuel their green dreams.

TRUCK-PACKED ROADS

The biggest riddle for ports to solve arguably isn’t the heavy equipment on the docks. It’s the endless parade of big rigs that pick up containers from port terminals and deliver them to acres of warehouses in the Inland Empire and beyond.

Those heavy-duty vehicles — carrying televisions, clothing, auto parts and a wide array of consumer goods — contribute the largest share of the smog-forming nitrogen oxide and greenhouse gasses emitted near the coastal cargo centers.

To discourage older, dirtier trucks, port leaders proposed requiring operators of big rigs 10 years or older to pay a fee beginning next year. And by 2035, the cargo haulers would have to drive only zero-emission vehicles.

But truck operators, who in the last decade have spent $1 billion to buy cleaner-burning engines, believe the goals go too far.

“The more expensive they make it to move cargo, the less likely cargo owners will import and export their cargo through the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach,” said LaBar of the trucking association.

The Pasha projects fueled officials’ faith that electric engines could eventually replace diesel power, but LaBar remains skeptical. He believes the ports rely too much on the notion that electric power will fix the problem. Earlier efforts to adopt LNG technology failed, he said, and wound up dearly costing truckers who bought vehicles powered by that fuel.

Currently, electric trucks don’t yet have the gusto to haul containers that can weigh up to 95,000 pounds. And electric trucks can cost three times more than their petroleum-powered counterparts.

LaBar is also no fan of tougher rules. “Onerous regulations,” he said, “increase the cost of doing business here.”

MOVE IT, MOVE IT

Amid all these competing interests, port officials say one thing is clear: they need more time.

They plan to ask commissioners to extend the public discussion period on their environmental update, which was originally set to end in mid-February.

“We need to figure out what the path is going forward,” said Tomley, the Long Beach port’s environmental planning director and a caretaker of its Green Port Policy.

Technology, while moving at a brisk pace, isn’t going to move quickly enough to solve all the ports’ puzzles this year.

And environmentalists, increasingly concerned about climate change, shun any effort that isn’t about immediacy.

“It’s stating the obvious that the ports have to do more quickly,” said Adrian Martinez, an attorney for Earthjustice.

Tough standards need to be in place, he said, and the port can’t just shoot for goals 30 years down the line.

“We have to get a lot more pollution reductions to make it safe to breathe,” Martinez said. “Until we see a plan that commits to an enforceable path to make that happen, there is going to be that tension between environmentalists, the community and the port.”

Online Edition

 

Over more than a decade, taxpayers have forked out millions of dollars to pay for environmentally friendly equipment to help improve the air quality around the nation’s busiest ports.

Many of the exhaust-spewing vehicles chugging into coastal cargo hubs at Los Angeles and Long Beach have disappeared, replaced with cleaner-burning alternatives. Pollutant levels have plummeted. And visits to the hospital for asthma have declined.

Feb 14, 2017

Port officials weigh options to clean the air: Natural gas or electric?

Online Edition

Energy companies are fighting part of a proposed clean air plan for the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles that would demand zero-tolerance for truck emissions by 2035.

Proponents of natural gas and other fuels that are cleaner than diesel argued at a Long Beach Harbor Commission meeting Monday night they can accomplish near zero-emission using energy that is already available, getting the port closer to its goal quicker.

But environmentalists want no trace of harmful exhaust being emitted into the air and prefer electric-powered vehicles that do not produce emissions.

The debate over tailpipe truck emissions is at the center of a decade-old clean air plan that the two ports are updating. On Monday, more than a dozen natural gas advocates, environmentalists and community groups showed up to stake out their position.

Heather Tomley, director of environmental planning for the Port of Long Beach, told the commission the two ports have been weighing industry concerns with the environmental aspirations, and she expects to release a revised plan in May that will include a cost benefit analysis of various options.

“We have to focus immediately on proven cost effective technologies,” said Rich Dines, a harbor commissioner who is also a dockworker at the ports. “(Natural gas) seems to be cost effective, although I understand the long-term goal is zero emission.

“There’s a way we can all work together to achieve our goals, and that’s to protect the health of the community,” he said.

The argument environmentalists make for electric trucks doesn’t consider how electricity is produced, said Greg Roche, vice president of sustainable trucking at the fuel company Clean Energy.

“There is a lot of (electric) power generation from natural gas and coal,” he said. “When you look at the total emissions of a renewable natural gas and an electric battery truck, they are about the same.”

With 570 fueling stations – including one at the Port of Long Beach – Clean Energy is the largest provider of natural gas transportation fuel in the U.S. and North America and would benefit from expanded use at the port. The fuel consists of methane gas that is captured from landfills and dairy and sewage plants. This form of energy fuels about 700 port trucks.

Leaders have been struggling to balance their goals with the multibillion cost of implementing zero-emission technology.

Natural gas has been pitched by the industry as an alternative. Roche said recent studies from UC Riverside show the fuel produces about 0.002 percent of smog-forming nitrogen oxide.

But Jesse Marquez, executive director of Coalition for a Safe Environment, advocates electric-powered vehicles, saying they don’t release nitrogen oxide that can ultimately be harmful to the community.

“We don’t need to be investing any further in natural gas,” he said.

Truck operators, meanwhile, have argued electric vehicles cost three times the amount of the dirtier diesel-powered big rigs.

Online Edition

Energy companies are fighting part of a proposed clean air plan for the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles that would demand zero-tolerance for truck emissions by 2035.

Proponents of natural gas and other fuels that are cleaner than diesel argued at a Long Beach Harbor Commission meeting Monday night they can accomplish near zero-emission using energy that is already available, getting the port closer to its goal quicker.

Feb 08, 2017

Dockworker jobs at Port of LA, Long Beach up for grabs in rare raffle

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For the past few days, customers have been streaming nonstop into Patrick Meehan’s usually quiet postal store in San Pedro for a job opportunity not seen in a generation.

Nearly everyone who walks through the door wants a shot at one of the most well-paid, blue-collar jobs in California — and they need the post cards he sells to get in the lottery.

“Everywhere was sold out of these cards,” Meehan said, as the phone rang with yet another customer looking for post cards needed to apply for a union job on the docks.

The last time the International Longshore and Warehouse Union and their employers opened up a call for potential employees was in 2004, before the recession hit and the gig economy took off. More than a quarter-million people applied from around the world for 3,000 part-time jobs.

Rumors are swirling that even more people are putting their names in the drawing, but officials for InterOptimis, the Moorpark-based company handling the drawing, wouldn’t confirm.

“It’s a big deal. It’s a good job, it has good benefits,” said Paul Trani, president of ILWU Local 63, representing about 1,100 marine clerks. “PMA was estimating that with the Internet and Facebook we could get as many as a million cards, but I have no idea how many cards we have gotten so far.”

Last week, the ILWU and the Pacific Maritime Association ran ads in local newspapers asking for post card submissions that will be drawn in a lottery for the next wave of part-time hires. The deadline is Thursday for most of the post cards to have been received. But for those who happen to know a dockworker or marine clerk, they could catch a break.

Members of the ILWU and other industry officials have been sent pre-addressed cards to hand out to family and friends. But many in the union didn’t get theirs until late last week, forcing the PMA to extend their deadline for receiving those cards to Tuesday.

InterOptimis will draw as many public cards as there are union-issued cards submitted. Once there are two sets of cards, InterOptimis will alternatively draw from each until they hit 3,400 names, according to a time line released by the ILWU. But Trani said only 2,400 names will be pulled and it’s not clear how many of those will actually become casuals.

Union officials will begin the lottery picks Feb. 6, but they haven’t set a location for the drawing.

“Just the fact that they are opening up the gates is amazing,” said Monique DiLeva, who was picking up seven post cards for family members. “People have been waiting for a long time.”

Full-time dockworkers in Los Angeles and Long Beach on average make $123,278, obtain full free medical coverage and receive a pension, according to a 2015 report by the PMA, the terminal operators that hire dockworkers.

But the PMA doesn’t take applications. To get a full-time job on the docks, one has to first be a so-called casual. Casuals start about $25 an hour but their base rate adjusts as they gain experience. Also, they have no benefits.

There are about 14,000 dockworkers in the Los Angeles and Long Beach port complex and thousands more casuals. And the only way to become a casual is through the lottery process.

DiLeva, who started working part-time on the terminals at 19 years old, said the job, though it can be dangerous, has given her a comfortable life.

“I am not a nurse or a doctor, but it’s a proud thing to be a longshoreman,” said the 31-year-old mother. Like many working near the shores, the union harks back generations in her family. Her father was a dockworker and her husband is, too.

But those ties also provoke deep questions about the fairness of a system that dates back decades. She worries that not enough of the current part-timers are moving up the ranks. As of December, there were 7,297 longshore workers, according to the PMA.

The system is based on seniority, specifically the most hours worked. DiLeva said she clinched a full-time position in just three years, but she knows folks who have been casuals for more than a decade. Those casuals must call in daily to see if there’s work and the off-season tends to be slow.

In 2015, a change.org petition signed by 167 people called on the union and terminal operators to hold off on any lotteries.

“If the plan to hire 2,400 new identified casuals goes through as planned, our chances of becoming registered union members and the amount of work we would receive will be drastically reduced,” the petition said.

Casuals pick up work through a rotating system that gives every member an equal opportunity to work, but they have to be available. Many hold other jobs and don’t pick up every available working hour. The catch is that once a casual’s number in the system is called, they must physically be at the dispatch hall in Wilmington, said Rich Dines, a Long Beach harbor commissioner and a marine clerk who has worked on the waterfront for more than two decades. There is no guarantee of work, however.

“The hiring of casuals to full time has always based on industry demand,” Dines said. “If you had not gone through the Great Recession, who knows, we may have hired a couple of thousand people. The ports have yet to recover to our peak year of 2006 and 2007.”

And though casual life can be demanding, Dines said it’s worth it.

That’s especially true for low-skilled workers who have seen a steady decline in their wages in other areas of employment.

“It’s fair to describe this as a lottery,” said Chris Tilly, former director of UCLA Institute for Research on Labor and Employment. “They are trying to hit the jackpot. The days of lots of well-paid factory jobs are gone.”

Fewer factory jobs exist, global competition is fierce and unions have become weaker, he said.

“These are terrific jobs,” Tilly said. “These are among the more protected jobs in the economy.”

 

 

Print Edition

For the past few days, customers have been streaming nonstop into Patrick Meehan’s usually quiet postal store in San Pedro for a job opportunity not seen in a generation.

Nearly everyone who walks through the door wants a shot at one of the most well-paid, blue-collar jobs in California — and they need the post cards he sells to get in the lottery.

“Everywhere was sold out of these cards,” Meehan said, as the phone rang with yet another customer looking for post cards needed to apply for a union job on the docks.

Feb 09, 2017

Creditors appeal sale of defunct shipping company Hanjin’s stake in Long Beach terminal

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U.S. creditors have appealed a recent court decision allowing Hanjin Shipping Co. to sell its stake in a Long Beach port terminal for $78 million and return assets to South Korea.

The move this week by companies that lease cargo containers and chassis is not expected to impact operations at the local port; the move represents creditors’ attempt to assure they can recover the remaining assets.

As part of a worldwide effort to shed some of its assets, the defunct shipping company agreed to sell its 54 percent stake in Total Terminals International LLC for $78 million to Switzerland-based Mediterranean Shipping, the world’s second largest shipping company.

A South Korean court approved the deal and Long Beach signed off on in December. But container companies objected to the release of revenue from the sale to South Korea, where a court is overseeing the unwinding of the shipper’s assets around the world.

Creditors argued that they wouldn’t be given the same protection in a foreign court.

A spokesperson for Hanjin, once the world’s seventh largest shipping company, could not immediately be reached for comment.

 

 

Print Edition

U.S. creditors have appealed a recent court decision allowing Hanjin Shipping Co. to sell its stake in a Long Beach port terminal for $78 million and return assets to South Korea.

The move this week by companies that lease cargo containers and chassis is not expected to impact operations at the local port; the move represents creditors’ attempt to assure they can recover the remaining assets.

Feb 09, 2017

Long Beach port cargo surges; Hanjin crisis finally fading?

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In the first indication the Port of Long Beach could be recovering from the aftermath of the Hanjin Shipping bankruptcy, officials reported strong cargo volume in January after a months-long losing streak.

Overall container volume was up 8.7 percent last month compared to the same time period a year earlier led by traffic at Pier T, where Hanjin called.

“We’re very happy with the way the new year is starting in Long Beach,” said Lori Ann Guzmán, resident of the Long Beach Harbor Commission, in a statement.

The bump marks a turnaround after several month of declining cargo volumes as traffic at Pier T slump after shipping giant Hanjin melted down and filed for bankruptcy protection on Aug. 31.

Long Beach signed off on a deal that allowed the South Korean company — once the seventh-largest shipper in the world — to sell its majority stake in the terminal to Switzerland-based Mediterranean Shipping Co. (MSC) in December.

The terminal is now controlled by Terminal Investment Limited (TIL), a MSC subsidiary and January marked the first full month the company had control.

At the same time, MSC has increased its market share over the last three months, according to research firm Panjiva, which tracks trade data.

The jump in volume puts Long Beach on track with the rest of the country at a time when retailers stock up for the coming year.

Data from Panjiva shows U.S. bound imports grew five percent last month.

Imports to the Long Beach port increased 7.4 percent in January compared to the same time period last year.

“This year, we’ll be laser-focused on furthering our new partnership with MSC and continuing to provide efficient and rapid service to all of our customers,” Guzmán said.

A report released Thursday by the National Retail Federation and Hackett Associate predicts imports at the nation’s major retail container ports — including Los Angeles and Long Beach — will increase 4.6 percent during the first half of 2017.

 

Print Edition

In the first indication the Port of Long Beach could be recovering from the aftermath of the Hanjin Shipping bankruptcy, officials reported strong cargo volume in January after a months-long losing streak.

Overall container volume was up 8.7 percent last month compared to the same time period a year earlier led by traffic at Pier T, where Hanjin called.

Jan 27, 2017

Clean-air proposal for ports, rail yards, warehouses relies on cooperation, raising accountability questions

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Southern California’s air quality agency is poised to approve a 15-year air cleanup plan that contains no emissions limits for the ports, rail yards or warehouse complexes that attract large numbers of ships, locomotives and big rig trucks.

Those vehicles are among the region’s greatest source of harmful emissions. But officials with the South Coast Air Quality Management say now is the time to seek cooperation from industry, not impose restrictions.

Instead of rule-making, Wayne Nastri, the South Coast Air Quality Management District’s executive officer, said he first wants to determine what reductions the cargo-handing industries are willing to make on their own.

“Let’s work voluntarily,” Nastri said at the Jan. 6 meeting of the air district’s governing board in Diamond Bar. “Let’s see what commitments we can get. As long as we are making progress, and we can demonstrate progress, all of the parties will be satisfied.”

The regional cleanup plan is up for approval Feb. 3. Its emission-reduction goals for ports, rail yards and warehouse complexes all are listed as “TBA,” an acronym meaning “to be announced.”

Philip Fine, the air district’s deputy executive officer, said air district officials will work with industry and other affected parties for a year, and if no meaningful and enforceable reductions can be agreed to, the air district will then switch to a rule-making mode.

The air district regulates air pollution in Orange County, and the urban portions of Los Angeles, Riverside and San Bernardino counties.

Nastri was hired last year after Republicans gained a majority on the governing board and sought a business-friendly approach to air pollution regulation. They lost that majority this month with the appointment of liberal Democrat Shelia Kuehl, a Los Angeles County supervisor, to the board.

While the volunteer strategy is applauded by port and logistics industry officials, environmental groups argue the district is abrogating its responsibility to protect the health of millions of people.

“We need to make this industry clean up,” said Adrian Martinez, a Los Angeles-based attorney for Earthjustice, which does legal work for the Sierra Club and other environmental groups. “The longer we wait, it just means more people getting sick and dying from air pollution.”

Ships, locomotives, and trucks are major sources of smog-forming nitrogen oxides, as well as soot, a toxic component of fine-particle pollution.

Nitrogen oxides react with other pollutants to form lung-searing ozone. Last year, Southern California’s air basin failed to meet the federal health standard for ozone during 116 days.

The region also failed to meet a 2015 federal deadline to bring diesel soot and other fine-particle pollution down to healthful levels.

And people living near the ports, rail yards and warehousing centers get higher exposure to particle air pollution and thus have a higher risk for cancer and other health problems, studies have shown.

But Port of Long Beach official Rick Cameron said he expects more emissions reductions under Nastri’s approach, because it would prevent potential lawsuits and other battles between the air district and the industry.

The ports would enter talks in good faith, said Cameron, the Long Beach port’s managing director of planning and environmental affairs.

“We are committed to doing our part, and we have always been,” he said.

Long Beach and Los Angeles ports, he said, met pollution reduction goals in the 2006 San Pedro Bay Clean Air Action Plan. Diesel soot emissions at ports have dropped by 80 percent due to rules requiring newer trucks at ports, among other measures.

Generally speaking, state and federal agencies have legal jurisdiction over emissions from moving sources, such as boats, locomotives, and trucks, while the air district regulates stationary sources, such as factory smokestacks.

Yet air district officials have said for years they have the authority to impose what they call “indirect source rules” for facilities that handle, transfer or store cargo to reduce pollution at warehouses and ports.

Such rules could require limits on vehicle idling, fees based on cargo volume or facility size, the use of zero-emission cranes, forklifts, and other types of on-site equipment, charging stations for electric vehicles and electrical plugs for refrigerated trailers so engines don’t have to idle to keep perishable goods cool.

Yet, such rules could spur legal challenges, said Fine, the air district official.

In 2007, a federal judge shot down an air district rule that would have limited locomotive idling in rail yards. U.S. District Court Judge John F. Walter found it was pre-empted by federal regulations that protect the free flow of interstate commerce.

John Husing, an economist and warehouse-industry consultant, opposes air district rules for warehouse complexes, saying they would curtail job growth in Inland Southern California’s logistics industry.

Such rules would cross a “line in the sand” and trespass on the land-use authority of cities and counties and thus usurp that local planning process, Husing said. Such rules would be staunchly opposed by industry and local government.

Joseph Lyou, an air district board member and president and CEO of the Coalition for Clean Air, said he wants the air board’s plan to do more to address pollution associated with ports, rail yards and warehouses.

The 462-page air pollution plan fails to quantify any pollution reduction goals for these facilities, he pointed out.

Another table in an appendix of the plan, however, projects a 14 percent increase in smog-forming nitrogen oxides from the ports by 2022.

The lack of pollution-reduction goals is significant because once the cleanup plan is approved by state and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the goals become enforceable through lawsuits under the federal Clean Air Act.

With no stated goals, citizens don’t have the option of going to court to make the air district accountable for the reductions, said Lyou, who was appointed to the air board by former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

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Southern California’s air quality agency is poised to approve a 15-year air cleanup plan that contains no emissions limits for the ports, rail yards or warehouse complexes that attract large numbers of ships, locomotives and big rig trucks.

Those vehicles are among the region’s greatest source of harmful emissions. But officials with the South Coast Air Quality Management say now is the time to seek cooperation from industry, not impose restrictions.

Jan 28, 2017

Ontario vows to rid itself of Hanjin shipping containers by year’s end

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ONTARIO >> The city’s legal team vows that hundreds of abandoned shipping containers, illegally stored at four industrial yards in the agricultural southern part of town, will be gone by the end of the year.

Restraining orders have been issued on two of the property owners, and discussions with the other two property owners have been constructive, Richard Egger, an attorney representing the city, said.

The shipping containers were transported to industrial yards in Ontario in November, shortly after the financial collapse of Hanjin Shipping Co., the world’s seventh-largest ocean courier. Thousands of empty containers — some owned by the shipper, others leased out to other companies — began piling up at the space-challenged, busy port complex, but those needed to be unloaded elsewhere to make room for the busy holiday season.

Hundreds came to Ontario, but city law forbids their storage in the agricultural southern part of town. City leaders also voiced concern that increased truck traffic related to the containers would plague existing residents and impact home sales in the surrounding Ontario Ranch area.

The city will “take action until (each) property is brought into compliance,” Egger said, adding that fighting the city “can be a costly experience for a property owner,

“As the city has taken on this program to resolve these issues, many of the property owners have been quick to respond in a constructive way, and we would hope those who have not responded in a constructive way, have taken notice of the fact that it is a more efficient and less expensive way for property owners, as well as the city, if they act cooperatively.”

Defendants named in complaints include:

• The Lanting Family LLC, and Gardner trucking, with a property in the 9000 block of Merrill Avenue and 8900 block of East Eucalyptus Avenue

• Jay Hong Park, Carnie Chung, Adrian Won, Sylvia Won and Young Lee, with a property in the 8400 block of East Chino Avenue where it meets the 13100 block of South Walker Avenue

• Harold Jay Bollema, with a property in the 8200 block of Schaefer Avenue

• Jean and Catherine Gastelluberry and Fleet Services LLC, with a property in the 13600 block of South Grove Avenue

Defendants involved in the suits could not be immediately reached for comment.

The city has filed temporary restraining orders against the owners of the properties on Merrill and East Chino avenues, Egger said.

“Both storage of containers, as well as parking trucks, is something the city is trying to eliminate as quickly as possible,” Egger said. “When we have settlement discussions with owners and operators, we’re working toward a relatively short time frame as to when the properties are brought into compliance.”

Egger said settlements are still under negotiation, but outcomes may potentially include fines and penalties against the owners of the property who stored the containers illegally. They may also be on the hook for the city’s legal expenses.

The owners of the Merrill Avenue property will be in court in early March for a preliminary injunction hearing.

“We have been in constructive discussions with the owner and operator,” Egger said of that case.

Regarding the property on East Chino Avenue, Egger said: “There has been some cooperation and constructive settlement discussions.”

Mike Radak, senior vice president of marketing and sales for Hanjin, said in an earlier interview he did not know about the Ontario containers, that they were probably leased, and any Hanjin-owned containers have been legally stored elsewhere.

 

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ONTARIO >> The city’s legal team vows that hundreds of abandoned shipping containers, illegally stored at four industrial yards in the agricultural southern part of town, will be gone by the end of the year.

Restraining orders have been issued on two of the property owners, and discussions with the other two property owners have been constructive, Richard Egger, an attorney representing the city, said.

Jan 31, 2017

Rail at Near-Zero Emissions?

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As one of the greenest ports in the world, the Port of Long Beach (POLB) continues to be a leader in green initiatives and projects meant to reduce emission and protect the environment.

In 2006, in partnership with the Port of Los Angeles, the POLB adopted the Clean Air Action Plan (CAAP), which outlined short-term and long-term emission reduction goals. These goals were meant to help reach ambitious targets of emission reductions statewide. Shortly after the ports adopted CAAP, the Technology Advancement Program (TAP) was introduced.

“We recognized at the time that to meet the long-term air emission reduction that we wanted to be able to achieve, we needed to have new cleaner technologies available to do the work using cleaner equipment,” Heather Tomley, director of environmental planning at the Port of Long Beach, said. “We didn’t have all the tools in the toolbox, and we wanted to have a role making sure that those tools got developed.”

Every year, the ports invest $1.5 million each to help fund demonstrations of promising new green technologies that have been developed but require a testing ground to prove their worth. Past TAP investments include truck, terminal equipment, ship and harbor craft projects, many focused on moving away from diesel fuel dependency toward electric or natural gas energy sources.

An advisory committee made up of technical staff from the South Coast Air Quality Management District, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) works with the ports to determine which projects should be invested in. Often times, one or more of these agencies will also provide funding for projects, as is the case with one of the latest TAP efforts with locomotives.

Ohio-based VeRail Technologies Inc. submitted a proposal for the development and the demonstration of a near-zero emissions locomotive. Each port contributed $300,000 to the project, with the EPA and Southern California Gas Company each giving $500,000. VeRail is picking up the bulk of the cost at #3.1 million, and the Pacific Harbor Line, the railroad that will operate the locomotive during the demonstration, contributed $400,000.

“The locomotive we are proposing basically is of the same horsepower and configuration of the current locomotives used for switching in the ports, which are six-axle, 2,000-horsepower locomotives,” Tom Mack, president and chief technology officer of VeRail, said. “Rather than being powered by a single or multiple diesel engines, its actually powered by multiple near-zero emissions natural gas engines. It also makes us capable of running on renewable natural gas, which has an 80% plus carbon reduction.”

The model to be used during the one-year demonstration on the Pacific Harbor Line will have the capability of running as a dual natural gas-diesel locomotive or strictly on compressed natural gas (CNG), according to Mack. He explained that his company wants to show that every multi-engine diesel fuel that many would still want the comfort of being able to fall back on it while utilizing some CNG. However with his locomotive’s capability of being able to run solely on CNG, he hopes to demonstrate an opportunity for the industry to move away from diesel fuel indefinitely.

“For rail specifically, its been a challenge to find cleaner technologies that work well in the oprations, Tomley said. “We see this project as a really good opportunity to test out something that goes much further than anything we’ve seen at this point. It’s been a good process for us to help spur innovation and technologies in this area and also to validate them.”

VeRail’s demonstration is scheduled to being in 2018, during which it will undergo rigorous emissions testing. The locomotive will be tested before entering service, after 1,500 hours of operation and after 3,000 hours of operation to ensure emission levels remain constant throughout use.

One of the biggest hurdles in developing the green locomotive was putting enough CNG storage onboard, Mack said. He explained that locomotives that are currently in use are refueled every one to two weeks, depending on usage, and it was difficult to get the same longevity from CNG. However, VeRail developed two designs of CNG storage tanks that allow their locomotive to be refueled every seven to 10 days – two weeks under some circumstances – keeping it on the same schedule as standard locomotives. The designs allow for the storage of 900 to 1,200 diesel gallon equivalents of CNG onboard.

Currently, the greenest locomotive on the market is classified as Tier 4 under CARB Standards. VeRail’s goal is to set a new standard as a Tier 4 plus locomotive by reducing mono-nitrogen oxides and particulate matter by 70%. This reduction would be 1/65th of the emissions of a Tier 4 locomotive, according to Mack.

“The one problem with some technologies that have been proposed is that they’ll talk about a zero-emissions technologies based on the number of units being operated. If a company can replace one diesel locomotive with a zero-emissions model or three diesel locomotives with three near-zero emissions models for the same cost, the greater emission reduction will be with the near-zero option.

“Being good port partners and good, clean citizens that we are, we’re always looking to get as close to zero emissions as possible,” Otis Cliatt, president of Pacific Harbor Line (PHL), said. “Tom Mack has done quite a bit of work. They’ve done their homework. Pacific Harbor Line is very excited to be part of that cutting edge technology once again.”

Cliatt said PHL is optimistic about the outcome of the forthcoming demonstration on its rail line. He explained that PHL has one of the cleanest fleets in North America and looks forward to the continued relationship between PHL, VeRail and the port.

“We think its great that the ports are being so proactive,” Mack said. “We applaud the ports for really thinking ahead.”

Print Edition

 

As one of the greenest ports in the world, the Port of Long Beach (POLB) continues to be a leader in green initiatives and projects meant to reduce emission and protect the environment.

In 2006, in partnership with the Port of Los Angeles, the POLB adopted the Clean Air Action Plan (CAAP), which outlined short-term and long-term emission reduction goals. These goals were meant to help reach ambitious targets of emission reductions statewide. Shortly after the ports adopted CAAP, the Technology Advancement Program (TAP) was introduced.