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Ports are intermodal facilities that generally operate in sensitive and urban environments. Their location at the interface of land and water creates an inherent challenge to conduct their operations and consider their expansion objectives in an environmentally protective and sustainable manner. Ports often operate in close proximity to sensitive aquatic resources including wetlands. The proximity to sensitive resources inherently challenges ports to operate in a sustainable manner.
Port operations and expansions take place in urban environments and ports are an integral part of their communities. Operations and expansions should take place with minimal impact on surrounding communities.
Many types of goods and commodities travel to and from ports. Products are shipped in large metal boxes called containers. Containers are transported to ports via truck or rail. Once the containers reach the port, they are loaded onto large containerships by cranes. Containers arriving on ships are off-loaded by cranes and then transported via truck or rail to their destination.
Ports share many of the same environmental concerns as the highway and rail sectors. Air quality, noise, stormwater management, and solid waste management issues are present at ports as well. Ports also contain buildings so LEED principles apply to ports as well.
A difference between the ports sector and other transportation sectors is the need to dredge sediments to maintain channel depths as well as to deepen channels to provide sufficient depths for ships to navigate. Dredging needs to be conducted using best management practices such as environmental buckets, use of water quality monitoring, avoidance of dredging during sensitive time periods for aquatic resources, etc. to minimize impacts on sensitive resources. Dredged sediments should be beneficially reused such as for remediation of contaminated sites and landfill cover, where possible. If the sediments are contaminated, volatilization of contaminants and leaching of contaminants from the sediments into the waterway should be evaluated.
Since ports operate adjacent to waterways, stormwater management practices to prevent contaminated runoff from entering the waterway become especially important. Maintenance and repair of waterfront structures must be appropriately permitted and done in compliance with applicable environmental regulations.
Ports also are a significant source of air quality emissions. Cranes and other container handling equipment, ships, tugs, locomotives, and trucks are emission sources.
Fueling operations for ships and trucks may result in spills which can enter the waterway. The use of spill prevention methods and compliance with spill prevention regulations and storage tank regulations are important to prevent spills from coming in contact with the waterway.
Ports have developed many programs to minimize their impact on the environment and to incorporate the principles of sustainability into their operations. Efforts to reduce air emissions include the use of cold-ironing for ships. Cold-ironing is the supply of shoreside power infrastructure for ships to plug into electricity allowing ships to shut down their auxiliary diesel engines. Other measures that ports have incorporated to reduce air emissions include:
Other sustainable measures that ports have adopted include:
For more information on PB Ports, please contact Jeff Schechtman