More Needed to Combat Ship Emission Health Hazard

By Kathryn Stone 2015-06-10 18:52:49

Current scrubbers alone may not be enough to combat the dangers associated with ship exhausts, a new study claims.

Scientists at the University of Rostock have recently found that both unrefined heavy fuel oil (HFO) and marine diesel (DF) are closely linked with serious disease.

“The results are startling and confirms our worst fears: ship emissions cause serious diseases of the lungs and heart,” said Leif Miller CEO of the NABU environmental group.

Epidemiological studies have repeatedly found that as many as 60,000 annual deaths from lung and heart diseases can be traced back to ship-related PM. Also, shipping is responsible for around 50% of PM pollution found in coastal regions.

The International Maritime Organization has established an international maximum sulfur content of 3.5% for shipping fuel. Emission Control Areas such as California and EU ports have adopted a stricter .1% limit. These emission regulations have largely targeted HFO, however the study indicates the effects of cleaner-burning DF are still cause for concern.

While HFO was proven to contain a larger amount of toxic compounds, DF caused a stronger reaction in human lung cells. This might be the result of a higher soot content in DF.

In 2013 the World Health Organization found that diesel soot was as carcinogenic as asbestos. Soot particles are also the second strongest climate change contributor.

Half-hearted solutions, such as the scrubber technology or efficiency measures alone are not enough to protect human health and the environment long, ” Miller added.

In addition to continued efforts to reduce SOX and NOX, the scientist recommend wide-spread adoption of particle filter technology to reduce the amount of PM generated by ship emissions. “From a regulatory perspective, the next step should be the introduction of legal emissions limits for respirable PM,” the authors of the study claim.

The complete report can be found here.

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U.S. Manufacturing Keeps St. Lawrence Seaway Bustling

By MarEx 2015-06-10 14:25:50

U.S. manufacturing is expected to keep ship traffic on the St. Lawrence Seaway bustling this season after a strong start for general cargo shipments through the navigation system.

According to the St. Lawrence Seaway, shipments of steel, aluminum, wind turbines and other heavy machinery were up by 5 percent to 629,000 metric tons from April 2 to May 31. Steel and Canadian aluminum headed to U.S. Great Lakes ports such as Oswego, Detroit and Toledo to be used in the thriving automotive industry. Local manufacturers also exported mining equipment via the Port of Milwaukee to Europe.

Looking ahead, U.S. energy projects are expected to boost wind turbine shipments in the Great Lakes this season. The Port of Duluth-Superior has already booked 20 ships for its general cargo dock this year, including multiple loads of wind turbine components. The Port Authority recently broke ground on its $17.7 million Port of Duluth Intermodal Project – a dock redevelopment project that will further enhance its heavy-lift and project cargo capacity.

“The 2015 shipping season is shaping up to be a strong year for project cargo. Vanta Coda, Duluth Seaway Port Authority Executive Director, said. “Customers can utilize the Great Lakes system to bypass road and rail congestion at East Coast ports to expedite delivery schedules and streamline supply chains.”

While it was another late start to the season due to icebreaking constraints, grain from Canada and the U.S. continued to flow out of the St. Lawrence Seaway to export markets, totaling 1.9 million metric tons so far this season, up 7 percent over 2014. And dry bulk shipments, including road salt, coke for steel production, and construction materials totaled 1.7 million metric tons, up four percent.

Despite these star performers, year-to-date total cargo shipments via the St. Lawrence Seaway were 6.4 million metric tons, down by 7 percent compared to 2014 due to low global prices for North American iron ore and coal exports. Iron ore shipments via the Seaway were down 30 percent, while coal shipments dipped 27.5 percent compared to the same period the year before.

Stephen Brooks, President of the Chamber of Marine Commerce, said: “We’re optimistic that these cargoes for the manufacturing and energy sectors along with a rush of grain exports will help offset the decreases in iron ore and coal from steep declines in global prices. These numbers are proof-positive of the importance of the Great Lakes-Seaway for U.S. trade and why we need to continue working with governments to reduce barriers and make this vital gateway as competitive as possible.”

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MH 370 Search Ship Damaged Complicating Recovery

By Kathryn Stone 2015-06-10 13:15:42

Massive waves damaged an MH 370 search ship this week, further complicating the heavily-scrutinized recovery operation.

The GO Pheonix, a sophisticated search vessel using the world’s best deep sea equipment, sustained substantial damage to its deep tow system in inclement winter weather this week.

In an online update the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB), which is heading up the MH 370 search, said “a significant amount of welding is required to rectify the damaged frame and the initial plan was to undertake this work on-site.” The vessel returned to port June 8 to begin repairs.

A new video released by the ATSB shows the waves crashing over the vessel as it encounters rough sea conditions in the Indian Ocean. Crew members remain hidden inside two large shipping containers that serve as a portable base of operations where search team members conduct towfish operations and maintenance.

The onset of winter had caused a series of complications to the MH 370 search. Two Fugro vessels have been recalled – one temporarily and one permanently- due to increasing difficulty of operating in rough sea conditions. The remaining Fugro vessels have undergone winterization to allow them to continue operations during the winter months. As of today just one search vessel is still conducting operations and the ATSB anticipates repeated search pauses in the months to come.

The ATSB added that, “over coming weeks, search operations will be focused in the south to take advantage of the last of the better weather in that area prior to the expected onset of continuous poor weather during winter.”

The search for Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 has fallen under considerable scrutiny in the 15 months since the plane disappeared. The deepwater search is estimated to have cost over $60 million already with over $100 million more planned for future search efforts. But, it has not yielded any significant information about the plane’s location.

The Sydney Morning Herald reported that Tim Clark, president of Emirates, likened the search to a ‘goose chase’ saying that the operation may very well be a repeat of the search for Emilia Earheart’s downed plane.

Members of the subsea search community have also openly expressed concerns about Fugro’s ability to carry out a search of this nature. Skeptics claim that Fugro’s equipment is better suited for flat terrain, instead of rugged cliffs and volcanos of the current search. Similarly, Mike Williamson, founder and president of Williamson & Associates told Reuters, “I have serious concerns that the MH370 search operation may not be able to convincingly demonstrate that 100 percent seafloor coverage is being achieved,”

The GO Pheonix is set to pull out of the MH 370 search after completing its current swing. No reason has been given for the vessel’s withdraw from the project.

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Flooding of Expanded Panama Canal Begins

By Kathryn Stone 2015-06-10 11:12:26

Water will begin flooding the expanded Panama Canal on Thursday as the Agua Fria locks in Gatun are filled.

The Grupo Unido por el Canal (GUPC), contractor for the third set of locks, will open five valves on the Atlantic side of the Canal filling the chambers with around five million cubic meters of water. This week’s preliminary tests are expected to take about four days.

GUPC project manager Jose Pelaez commented that “after this phase, we will be able to start testing the first two gates and so on.”

In total, it will take between three to four months to complete the flooding process for each lock.

The Panama Canal expansion project is adding a third set locks to the complex to allow Post-Panamex vessels with a capacity up to 13,000 TEU to transit the canal. The existing Panama Canal can only handle vessels capable of transporting 5000 TEU or less.

Roughly five percent of maritime trade passes through the Panama Canal, with the United States and China topping the list of principal users. Around 320 million tons of cargo is transported through the canal annually. The new expansion, however, is expected to significantly increase this figure.

In the past two months, the Panama Canal has seen a number of notable announcements. April saw the installation of the final gate for the new locks, and in May the Panama Canal Authority announced a new toll structure set to come into effect with the opening of the expanded canal.

The $5.25 billion Panama Canal expansion project began in 2007, but has encountered a number of setbacks that have delayed the project two years. Currently, the new canal is 89.4% complete and is set to be reinagurated at an April 2016 ceremony.

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Head of Greece’s Biggest Port Resigns

By Reuters 2015-06-10 08:21:42

The head of Greece’s biggest port Piraeus will step down, a statement said on Wednesday, after the port was once more named as a target for privatization in the country’s cash-for-reforms negotiations with international creditors.

Chief Executive Yiorgos Anomeritis has headed the port since 2009. In February, he had informed the new leftist-led government he would stay on until the company’s annual shareholder meeting — which takes place on Saturday — to help the government in their first months in power.

Piraeus Port is majority state-owned and China’s Cosco has been operating two of the port’s cargo piers since 2008.

The sale of a majority stake in the port was part of Greece’s privatization plan under its 240 billion euro bailout with the European Union and the International Monetary Fund.

Tsipras’ government halted the privatization after it came in power in January but relaunched it last month, as a concession to break a four-month impasse in negotiations.

Anomeritis had opposed the sale of a majority stake, saying that ports can be managed by different operators but should be majority-owned by the state.

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