A green perspective: New Green Port Policies expand environmental stewardship role



Robert Kanter, Ph.D, Director of Planning and Environmental Affairs, Port of Long Beach, CA, USA


There is a new way of thinking at the Port of Long Beach, and everyone stands to benefit. For every Port-area worker, every resident, every seal, gull and fish, this new “green” ethic promises a cleaner harbour, soil and skies.

The new ethic is part of the Port of Long Beach’s recently approved “Green Port Policy.” This ambitious policy establishes guidelines for how the City of Long Beach Harbour Department will protect the community and environment from the negative impacts of Port operations. The Port-governing Long Beach Board of Harbour Commissioners unanimously adopted the historic, wide-ranging policy on January 31, 2005. The new policy formalises five guiding principles for the Port:

1) Protect the local community and environment from the harmful impacts of port operations;

2) employ the best available technology to minimise port impacts and explore advanced technology solutions;

3) promote sustainability in terminal design, development and all operations;

4) distinguish the Port of Long Beach as a leader in environmental stewardship and regulatory compliance; and,

5) engage and educate the community about Port development and environmental programmes.

The fundamental goals of the new Green Port Environmental Policy cover six categories:

• Air – Reduce air emissions from Port activities;

• Water – Improve the quality of Long Beach and surrounding harbour waters;

• Wildlife – Protect, maintain or restore aquatic ecosystems and marine habitats;

• Soil/Sediment – Remove, treat, or render suitable for beneficial reuse all Port-contaminated soils and sediments;

• Sustainability – Implement sustainable practices in terminal design, development and Port operations; and

• Community Engagement – Interact with and educate the community regarding Port environmental programmes.

“The Port of Long Beach has been a successful business leader for decades,” said Harbour Commission President John R. Calhoun following passage of the policy. “For years, we also have had pioneering environmental programmes. This policy provides  a clear framework for a new way of doing business at the Port.”

Building on success

The future success of the Port of Long Beach is not exclusively linked to its excellence in the marketplace and to sound financial performance. The Port’s success also is directly connected to its responsible environmental practices.

The Green Port Policy is an expansion of more than a decade of environmental programmes. In 2003, the Port combined many of these into a comprehensive ongoing programme called the Healthy Harbour Long Beach initiative, which addresses soil/ sediment, wildlife, air and water quality impacts.

In November 2004, the Board of Harbour Commissioners directed the Port staff to develop a comprehensive expanded environmental policy. The aim was the development of an overall plan that embraces the Port’s environmentally driven goals and procedures. The policy would be used to guide and determine present and future decisions and would serve as a framework within which the Port could operate in a “green” manner.

In response to the Commission’s request, the Port’s Development Bureau staff in December 2004 began discussing existing programmes and the development of new programmes, each with specific, measurable goals. Incentives to promote Port-tenant participation in these programmes were also discussed. Lastly, it was decided that the “momentum” of the Healthy Harbour programme should be maximised, and as such, it was concluded that, in addition to the four original elements (soil, wildlife, air and water), the new Green Port programme would be expanded to include two new elements – Sustainability and Community Engagement. “We know that protecting the environment is a good investment,” said Harbour Commissioner Mario Cordero.

“Sustainability is a key to our future. We must develop and operate the Port to meet current needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs.” Under the Green Port Policy, the entire Healthy Harbour initiative, with more than a dozen programmes, will be maintained and enhanced. The new policy calls for the development of methods, or “metrics,” to measure the Port’s progress on all goals. One metric that will be used to track air quality improvements will be “emissions per ton of cargo handled.”


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