The articles excerpted on this site report on the state of the industry as seen by mainstream media, and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of the officers of the ILWU Coast Longshore Division.

Port of Los Angeles fire smolders; no injuries as terminals close

Fire at the Port of Los Angeles September 2014

Port fire in San Pedro at Berth 179, where wood and tar pilings burned. Photo by Brad Graverson of The Daily Breeze.

[NOTE: Several media have reported that there were no injuries.]

A massive fire that consumed part of a wharf at the Port of Los Angeles continued to smolder today, as officials advised nearby residents in the Harbor Area and Long Beach to keep their windows closed to avoid the unhealthful smoke.

Longshore employees at several terminals were advised to contact their employers to see whether to come to work. About 8:30 a.m., Port of Los Angeles officials said all container terminals were closed for precautionary reasons because of the poor air quality.

By midmorning, smoke appeared to be the biggest problem in the region. The South Coast Air Quality Management District issued a smoke advisory for areas near the port, recommending residents who can see or smell smoke to avoid outdoor exposure and activity.

Los Angeles City Fire Chief Ralph Terrazas said arson investigators determined the blazed started accidentally with a welder’s torch.

More at The Daily Breeze


Fire breaks out at Port of Los Angeles, threatening ship

[NOTE: This report is from 11 pm on Sept. 22. The fire was brought under control within hours, though it continued to smoulder the next day.]

Longshore and Shipping News does not post advertisements. Any ads in the TV segment are placed by the news agency that produced the segment, NBC News 4.


Oil train opponents blockade tracks at Port Westward, OR

From Rising Tide North America:

Oil train blocked near Port Westward, OR

Oil train blocked near Port Westward, OR

Clatskanie, OR—Climate justice activists, local Clatskanie farmers, and oil train opponents from all over Columbia County are blockading the tracks [Update: Police Risk Protester’s Life to End 9-Hour Oil Train Blockade']that lead to Port Westward on the Columbia River. The blockade consists of a 20-foot-high tripod of steel poles, its apex occupied by 27-year-old Portland Rising Tide activist Sunny Glover. Any train movement would risk her life, as would any attempt to remove her from the structure. A banner suspended from the tripod reads: “Oil trains fuel climate chaos.” She has vowed to stay as long as she is able.

Dozens are joining Glover on the tracks. The increase in US oil production in recent years, and the consequent rise in oil train traffic, has outraged a diversity of groups and communities. Rising Tide activists, hoping to deter the most severe effects of climate change, are demanding a rapid dismantling of fossil fuel infrastructure throughout the region and the world. Residents of areas effected by oil train traffic are horrified by the propensity of Bakken crude trains to derail in fiery explosions—a May, 2014 emergency order by the US Department of Transportation describes the trains as an “imminent hazard.” Residents of the patchwork of farms, dikes, and waterways north of Clatskanie are fighting to protect agricultural land and salmon habitat from industrialization.

“When the crude oil trains began rolling through Columbia County, we had no prior warning—not from DEQ, not from the Port of St. Helens, not from the county, and not from the State of Oregon,” said Nancy Whitney. “With the close proximity of our towns, and particularly our schools, and considering the track record of crude oil derailments, my fear is that the potential devastation from leakage or explosion could be astronomical—and it will happen unless these trains are stopped.”

This is the fifth oil train blockade in the Pacific Northwest since June.

Read the rest at Rising Tide North America


The farm bill’s runaway costs overwhelm savings

Ag subsidies

Bloomberg writes that, ”The cost run-up was predictable – and unsurprising to anyone familiar with the history of bloated farm bills. The 2002 version of the bill, for example, was supposed to cost $451 billion over 10 years, but ultimately came in at $588 billion. The 2008 bill was even worse, chewing up $913 billion when it was supposed to cost $641 million.”

Bloomberg View published in The Olympian:

When does a $23 billion spending cut result in no savings at all? When it’s part of the U.S. farm bill.

Just a few weeks ago, the newest bill – a grab bag of subsidies for farmers and federal nutrition programs – went into effect. It was meant to save money by swapping $5 billion in annual direct payments to farmers with a new kind of crop insurance. But this insurance subsidy is turning out to be even more bloated and wasteful than the old cash giveaways.

The new crop-insurance program, known as price-loss coverage, pays farmers when they suffer so-called shallow losses. So when prices fall somewhat, as they have this summer, farmers come in for a payout. That wouldn’t necessarily cost taxpayers so much, except that Congress, under pressure from Big Ag, pegged the price floors that trigger payouts to the record-breaking commodities prices of recent years.

Read the full article at The Olympian


Safety advocates, Teamsters file suit, ask court to order DOT to issue driver training standards

From The Trucker:

A federal appellate court should order the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) to issue a long-overdue rule outlining training standards for entry-level truck drivers, safety advocates and a union told the court in a lawsuit filed last week.

Congress initially told the agency to finish a rulemaking process on driver training by 1993, but the agency still has not done so, stated a press release from the groups.

Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways (CRASH), and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters filed the suit in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia against the DOT and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), the agency charged with issuing the rule. Public Citizen is representing the groups; read the lawsuit here.

“People are dying needlessly while the agency drags its feet,” said Henry Jasny, senior vice president and general counsel with Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety. “New truck drivers need to be properly trained before they get behind the wheel. This is a dereliction of the agency’s duty.”

Read more at The Trucker


S.F.’s new cruise ship terminal, named for former ILWU leader, sees first ship arrival

Jimmy Herman, former International President of the ILWU

Jimmy Herman, former International President of the ILWU

The newest dock of the bay – San Francisco’s handsome $100 million new cruise ship terminal – opened for business Thursday when giant ship Crown Princess, big as a castle and white as a wedding cake, tied up just after 7 in the morning.

There was no ceremony – Peter Dailey, the port’s maritime director, called it “a soft opening” – but the arrival of the Crown Princess was a big deal.

The new terminal is named for veteran labor leader James R. Herman, a onetime port commissioner and head of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union.

The new terminal will get a proper opening with bands, speeches and assorted hoopla at noon next Thursday. The cruise ship Grand Princess will be in port that day.

More at SF Gate


PierPass’ new president responsible for Ports of LA and Long Beach

New president John Cushing’s role gives him responsibility for PierPass programs to relieve congestion and improve air quality at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. He takes over the role of president from Bruce Wargo, who has led PierPass since its founding in 2004 and remains CEO.

PierPass add that Mr. Cushing founded eModal in 1999 and served as its president through 2009. Under his leadership, eModal developed widely used online services to coordinate activities between marine terminals and trucking companies, beneficial cargo owners, and others in the supply chain. Mr. Cushing grew eModal into the nation’s largest port community system, used at 41 marine terminals in 14 ports on both U.S. coasts.

Read the full release at Marine Link


Implementation of ballast water treaty could be rocky, shipowners warn

Ballast water illustration

Once the convention officially takes effect, possibly in late 2015, it will mean the roughly 65,000-75,000 ships in operation globally, including some 5,000 container ships, will, upon dry-docking, be required to install expensive systems to treat ballast water and thus prevent the introduction of nonindigenous species into marine ecosystems, reports the JOC.

Excerpts from the Journal of Commerce:

With the odds growing that a global ballast water treaty will come into force next year, concern is building among shipowners, including container carriers, that its implementation will be chaotic, expensive and ineffective.

The ballast water convention was approved by the International Maritime Organization and sent out for national ratification in 2004, and is now on the verge of taking effect if Japan and Singapore ratify the pact this year — and some believe that’s likely.

The problem is that shipowners believe the procedures in place for determining what technology is deemed acceptable for complying with the treaty are faulty. They fear the roughly $1-$1.5 million per ship cost to install ballast water treatment technology will be spent on systems that don’t work.

Read the rest at the JOC


Gavilon Grain acquires Silica Grain in Rice County, Kansas

Gavilon Grain announced it has acquired a 981,000-bushel grain facility in Silica, Kansas. The Silica facility primarily handles wheat, corn, milo and soybeans, with 60-car shipping capabilities on the Kansas-Oklahoma railroad.

The Silica facility is Gavilon’s third grain elevator in Kansas, located 100 miles southwest of its shuttle facility in Abilene and 100 miles northwest of the company’s largest grain elevator in Wichita.

More at the Hutchinson News


Port of Los Angeles cargo up; Port of Long Beach cargo numbers down

August was the Port of Los Angeles’ busiest month in four years, while neighboring Port of Long Beach saw a significant dip in its cargo volumes, according to the latest statistics released Monday.

Cargo volume rose 6.7 percent at the Los Angeles port in August compared with the same month a year ago. The port moved 757,702 cargo containers, making it the busiest single month at America’s largest port since August 2010, when it moved 763,837 units.

Meanwhile at the Port of Long Beach, overall container cargo movement in August was down 9.1 percent from a year ago, with 573,083 units.

More at the Press-Telegram


Alliances instill lack of uniqueness in services, SeaIntel says

From the Journal of Commerce:

As the use of formalized alliances and vessel-sharing agreements accelerates, carriers’ core product ― moving containers from Point A to Point B ― becomes increasingly identical across alliance partners in major trade lanes. In the Asia-U.S. East Coast trade lane, in particular, carriers have rationalized weekly port calls, and in turn reduced the number of unique ports called, hurting shippers’ breadth of transportation options.

As carriers reduce the number of services in the Asia-U.S. East Coast trade and enter into ever-more alliances and vessel-sharing agreements to maintain profitability, they are also reducing the uniqueness of port combinations they each service directly, according to SeaIntel’s latest Tradelane Capacity Outlook report, published last week.

More at the JOC


Scrap metal company begins exporting to Asia from Port of Longview

Photo by Roger Werth at The Daily News

Pasha Stevedoring vice president Tim Tess said the work required about 20 longshore jobs. Photo by Roger Werth at The Daily News.

The Port of Longview ushered in a new era Monday when it began exporting scrap metal through a partnership with Pacific Northwest Metal Recycling (PNW).

Laurie Nelson-Cooley, business development manager for the port, said, “The port recently completed a market analysis report and scrap metal exports came back as one of the top commodities for export that the Pacific Northwest is viable for. U.S. scrap accounts for somewhere between 60 to 70 percent of the world’s volume.”

Marketing Director Hank Doane said in a statement released by the port Friday, “We have intentions of growing our business with a solid working relationship with the longshore, Port of Longview and Pasha Stevedoring.”

More at The Daily News


On growth, ICTSI wants 'to do in Africa what we did in Latin America'

Honduran dockworkers protest ICTSI

To say that ICTSI doesn’t respect workers and their unions is a massive understatement. Honduran dockworkers have suffered major job losses, violence, and militarization of their cargo terminal since ICTSI took over operations at Puerto Cortes in 2013. In March, several Honduran dockworkers traveled to Portland, Oregon, to protest ICTSI’s locking out of union workers after privatizing their home port.

Excerpts from the Philippine Daily Inquirer:

International Container Terminal Services Inc. (ICTSI), a global ports operator led by billionaire Enrique Razon Jr., is eyeing port deals in North Africa as it continues to bet on fast-growing emerging markets in the continent, a company official said last week.

Fernando Gaspar, ICTSI senior vice president and chief administration officer, said that the group was focused on opportunities in Africa, even as it prequalified for port deals in Greece and Israel.

“Africa is coming up right now. We want to do in Africa over the next few years what we have done in Latin America over the last seven years,” Gaspar said on the sidelines of the Asean Business Awards.

More at the Philippine Daily Inquirer


US imports above average as port contract talks continue

From Marine Link:

Retailers concerned by the lack of a West Coast longshoremen’s contract will continue to bring merchandise into the country at above-average levels this month but volume will drop from the record set in August, according to the monthly Global Port Tracker report released by the National Retail Federation (NRF) and Hackett Associates, and excerpted here.

“The negotiations have made progress and retailers have been stocking up, but there’s still cargo that needs to arrive before the holiday season kicks off,” NRF Vice President for Supply Chain and Customs Policy Jonathan Gold said. “Retailers are making sure that consumer demand during the holidays will be met.”

Read the rest at Marine Link


‘K’ Line orders five 14,000 TEU cargo ships

Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha (K Line) has announced a new order of a 14,000-TEU quintet. The new boxships will be constructed at Imabari Shipbuilding with length of 365.9 metre, beam 51.2 metre and draft of 14 metre. The price of the container ships was not announced.

The Japanese shipping conglomerate placed the order following the trend in the industry – pursuing larger vessels for cost competitiveness. The company also believes the new quintet would improve the efficiency of its business. The newbuildings are expected to be delivered from spring to summer 2018. They will be identical to five sister vessels ordered earlier.

More at Vessel Finder