Thursday, 17 April 2014 09:17

Kitimat votes "NO" to Northern Gateway

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The people of Kitimat last week voted against the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline. The ballot count from Saturday's unofficial referendum was 1,793 opposed versus 1,278 who supported the project — a margin of 58.4% to 41.6%. As the point of shipment for bitumen, Kitimat is the community most directly impacted by the proposed$6.5-billion project.

Meanwhile, an MOU announced this week between Northern Gateway Pipelines and trade unions representing pipeline construction workers guarantees a minimum target of approximately 2,100 person years of employment of union labour on the project, targets that will be established in detailed Project Labour Agreements. The MOU also ensures that the Project Labour Agreements include guarantees consistent with Northern Gateway’s publically stated commitments to local business opportunities and complements existing agreements with several First Nations groups guaranteeing employment and training opportunities. 

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The Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) are to begin contract negotiations on May 12. The existing contract expiration date is July 1 and the “no-strike” clause ends with it. For its part, the ILWU has publicly stated its objectives as stronger safety provisions, wages, more secure benefits, greater respect for ILWU jurisdiction and a reasonable approach to new technology. Not mentioned but known to be a priority are tax liabilities under the Affordable Health Care Act (Obamacare) set to take effect in 2018 and the proposed length of the new contract. Employers currently pay 100% of the premiums in the ILWU health care plan, and union members contribute just a $1 co-pay per prescription for medication. The PMA estimates that the new tax will cost industry $150 million a year and the ILWU seems intent on making the employers pay.

Thursday, 17 April 2014 09:14

Ferry disaster off coast of South Korea

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Following a tragic accident at sea on Wednesday this week, 287 people are still missing, mostly teenage high school students, after the South Korean owned ro-ro passenger ferry Sewol capsized and sank near Jeju Island with 475 passengers on board. The South Korean authorities have advised that 179 people were rescued in a rapidly organized and ongoing rescue/recovery  operation which is being hampered by poor weather and strong ocean currents in the area. Nine people are so far confirmed dead. Many emotional text messages were sent to their families by students who clearly recognized they were unlikely to survive this terrible event. Our deepest condolences go to the families who have lost loved ones.

Thursday, 17 April 2014 09:12

MH370 - The search goes on

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The search teams seeking evidence of the missing Malaysia Airlines plane MH370 have now deployed a robotic submarine known as Bluefin-21. This is a highly technical piece of equipment, five meters in length, designed to generate a sonar map of the sea floor. No new signals have been heard since 8 April and there are real concerns that the black box detector batteries are extinguished. Up to 12 planes and 15 ships have been involved in the search for the plane.

Australian technicians believe the signals picked up by ADV Ocean Shield are consistent with flight recorders and this has enabled to scope of the search area to be narrowed. Even so, detection of the missing plane remains an extremely difficult task. Each Bluefin-21 mission will last 24 hours at a maximum depth of 4,500 meters (15,000 feet) with 16 hours spent on the ocean floor, four hours' diving and resurfacing time, and four hours to download data. ADV Ocean Shield also spotted an oil slick in the same area where the signals had been heard and a sample is under testing.

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The Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) and PSA Corp. are to inject $24 million into a Port Technology Research and Development Program to develop next-generation technologies for future container terminal operations. MPA will also provide a further $12 million over five years from its Maritime Innovation and Technology Fund. The initiative will be asked to focus on key areas of port automation, intelligent planning and control systems, and green port solutions. Singapore averaged 73 berth moves per hour in 2013, placing it near the top among major transshipment hubs but at the same time acknowledges that ever bigger container ships are generating new challenges for ports, including a need to improve crane moves per hour and activity peaks at truck gate moves. Singapore handled 32.6 million TEU in 2013, a 2.9 percent increase over 2012. 

Thursday, 17 April 2014 09:10

Airbus to build weather satellites

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The Airbus consortium has been awarded a contract to build Europe's next generation of polar orbiting weather satellites. The contract requires studies of many types of meteorological observations which are combined into so called “Metop Data” to improve the accuracy of global forecasting. The first generation of “Metop Data” which evolved from a network of satellites will be de-orbited by nudging them down from their roughly 800km high operational altitude until they are caught by the atmosphere and burned to destruction. The first pair of Metop-Second Generation  satellites will launch in 2021/22 and a third and final pair will likely go up in the 2030s, ensuring continuity of data into the 2040s. 

Thursday, 17 April 2014 09:09

Not everyone wants MLS in the Port of Miami

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In a discussion reminiscent of when the Whitecaps were seeking a waterfront stadium in Vancouver, it seems that David Beckham’s proposal to build a waterfront stadium within the port of Miami is not universally popular. Royal Caribbean Cruise Line and its Miami Seaport Alliance partners (including a wealthy car dealer and two locals of the ILA) has taken a full page add in the Miami Herald and its sister Spanish-language paper, El Nuevo Herald to speak out against the plan. The plan’s opponents argue that the well paying waterfront jobs are more important to the city’s economy than part time jobs related to stadium operations.

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A joint venture between Port Metro Vancouver and Metro Vancouver will add several new air quality and meteorological monitoring sites in the East Vancouver area of Burrard Inlet.  These additions will build on the monitoring initiatives conducted around Burrard Inlet between 2008 and 2010 and will help track progress towards improving air quality.

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Mr. Lorne Friberg, President & CEO of Pacific Coast Terminals (above left), and Dr. Ulrich Lamp, President & CEO of K+S Potash Canada (above right), signed an exclusive, and long-term contract for the handling and storage of potash products from K+S Potash Canada's Legacy mine site in Saskatchewan before a number of dignataries in Port Moody earlier today.  This agreement gives PCT the final nod on the construction of their new potash handling facility which is planned for completion in the fall of 2016.  The entire project represents an investment value of approximately $180 million and will create approximately 300 FTE construction jobs and 20 FTE permanent jobs upon completion.  Included in the project are a new railcar unlaoding station, new covered comveyor systems, systems to control dust emissions and a new storage warehouse.  

Thursday, 10 April 2014 23:46

Container drayage recovery

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PMV drayage activity is returning to some semblance of normality at 80-90% of pre-disruption activity but there remain several significant issues to resolve around the practical implementation of the 15 points action-plan under which the truckers agreed to return to work. There is a lack of consensus on several issues, not least that that several shippers do not feel bounded by the new trucking rates. Similarly, rail service is far from smooth in the intermodal sector or in the grain sector where both CN and CP are furious with government moves to regulate volumes.

Thursday, 10 April 2014 23:45

LA/LB merger proposal tabled

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It had to happen eventually and now someone has had the courage to state the obvious – the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, which between them handled 42% of all U.S. container traffic in 2013, need to merge. Los Angeles 2020 Commission this week  recommended that the rival adjacent ports look to merge in order to reduce bureaucracy and increase business investment responsiveness. The commission comprises business, labor and civic leaders. The recommendation comes hot on the heels of news that Seattle and Tacoma are finally talking instead of slugging it out.

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The good people of Kitimat vote tomorrow in a non-binding referendum on the Northern Gateway project to ship crude oil exports through Kitimat. The District Council voted in January to hold the referendum  whose question will be: Do you support the final report recommendations of the Joint Review Panel of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Authority and National Energy Board that the Enbridge Northern Gateway Project be approved subject to 209 conditions set out in volume 2 of the JRP’s final report?” Council is remaining neutral on the project and City Mayor Joanne Monaghan has rejected the complaints of local MP Nathan Cullen NDP who has criticized the efforts of Northern Gateway’s Kitimat office during the campaign.

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