Part IV: Drying & Stacking Sediment to Saving Space & Dollars

In the first three installments of this series, we introduced the Port’s three-part plan to manage the sediment dredged from the Cuyahoga River shipping channel. We explained in depth the first two tactics in our strategy – upstream bed load interception and marketing sediment for beneficial use.  This chapter is an overview of the Port’s efforts to maximize space at our disposal facility by drying and vertically stacking sediment.

Studies commissioned by the Port indicate that roughly 30% of the +200,000 cubic yards of sediment removed annually from the Cuyahoga River can be harvested and sold in the market for beneficial uses. But some of it is too fine or its quality is too questionable to be sold. So what happens to this material? Historically, that material was placed in into big landfills along the Lake Erie shoreline that are called confined disposal facilities (CDFs). After being removed from the Cuyahoga riverbed, the sediment was mixed with water and simply pumped into the CDF as slurry.

The drawback of this method is that the water present in that slurry takes up a large amount of volume in the CDF. We recognized that if we remove the water or dewater the slurry, the then dried sediment can be stacked in the CDF. This practice can radically increase the amount of material placed on the site.

In the past, when US Army Corps of Engineers relied on hydraulic placement of sediment in a CDF, its capacity was limited to a “brimful” volume, as the material was too liquid to be assembled in mounds. The useful life of the CDF was restricted by the liquid limits. If we keep using this method, the existing CDF is expected to be at maximum capacity in 2015.

The Port’s plan is to shift methods and dewater the dredged materials as it is delivered to the CDF, which will allow us to take advantage of the airspace – the vertical area – above the site. By dewatering and vertical mounding, we can extend the current site’s useful life by as many as 35 years. When we subtract the volume that can be recaptured through the harvest and sale of qualified material, we can extend the useful life of the current CDF to nearly 50 years. This means real savings to local taxpayers, as the cost of a new CDF has been estimated at $150 million.

Best of all, dewatering sediment also means we can avoid the inherent risks of any open lake dumping of sediment, a method that also ignores its potential benefits.

This post is the final installment describing our integrated, holistic sediment management plan. The Port’s overall goals with this plan are to create efficiencies, save tax dollars, and ensure the long-term environmental, recreational, and economic health of our shared Cuyahoga shipping channel and community. We’re excited to get the plan moving and keep the river open for business. 

 

By Jim White, Director, Sustainable Infrastructure Programs

 

 

Part III: Selling Sediment Instead of Dumping It

In Part I of this series, we introduced the Port’s three-part plan to manage the sediment dredged from the Cuyahoga shipping channel and allow for a consistent depth for the big ships that must navigate the river. We then in Part II explained bed load interception – a process to keep a significant amount of sediment from entering the shipping channel in the first place by capturing it upstream; thus, preventing the need to spend more dollars dredging it.

This time around, we’ll discuss the Port’s plan to market much of the sediment dredged from the river for so-called “beneficial uses” – anything from beach replacement to composting to the pea gravel that you might use in your backyard.

Sediment dredged from the Cuyahoga, like all river sediment, is a mixture of organic material, silt, sand, and gravel. For years, all the sediment dredged out of the Cuyahoga has been treated the same – as a waste product to be placed into big landfills called confined disposal facilities (CDFs). But after years of research and development, and a splash of entrepreneurship, we are about to shift that paradigm, establishing Cleveland as national model for innovative methods for managing the dredged material.

We now recognize that some of the sediment can be “harvested” and sold for a number of purposes, including covering over brownfields, for road construction, to fill basements of demolished houses, and to restore aquatic habitat areas.

There are other uses, but the basic premise is to change the way we think about sediment. The cliché of one person’s trash is another’s treasure rings true here. We know that these materials are mined and sold in the market, and we intend to enter that market – creating space at the CDF and generating enough revenue to pay for operations.

But the Port’s goals go beyond marketing the sediment being dredged currently or in the future. We have a plan to reclaim significant portions of dredged sediment that has already been placed in the CDF that is suitable for beneficial use. 

By removing marketable material from the CDF, we will free up more space to place material not suitable for beneficial use. We predict enough space will be created to extend the useful life of the current CDF by approximately 50 years.

In essence, the CDF will no longer simply be a “landfill” – it will be an all around sediment repurposing facility. As part of our work to prepare the CDF for future dredging, the Port will sort through both new and previously placed materials on site at the CDF. We expect to generate 40,000 to 60,000 cubic yards of material for market annually. That’s a huge reduction in space used at the disposal site.

As the photo above demonstrates, the Port removed more than 200,000 cubic yards of sediment in 2010 from its CDFs to cover a brownfield in Cleveland, proving the potential for beneficial use on other sites in need of environmental remediation.

Next time, in our final installment, I’ll share our plan for dramatically increasing the permanent storage capacity in the CDF by drying and stacking unsuitable sediment. More told in the last installment.

 

By Jim White, Director, Sustainable Infrastructure Programs

Port of Cleveland Approves Refinancings, Accepts Homeland Security Grant

CLEVELAND, OH (October 15, 2014) – The Port of Cleveland’s Board of Directors voted today to provide up to $161 million to support the combined refinancings of four previous economic development projects, as well as approved the acceptance of a Homeland Security grant.  2014.10.15 Full Press Release

Part II: Sediment Management: Capture the Good Stuff and Put It to Work

To recap, in an earlier post, we talked about the Port’s three-tiered plan to extend the useful life of our confined disposal facilities (CDF) by decades, saving tax dollars and keeping Lake Erie safe from potential environmental contamination.

In this post, I’ll explain the concept of upstream “bed load interception.”

The sediment dredged from the Cuyahoga, like all river sediment, is a combination of silt, sand and gravel, and is carried from the river and its tributaries in a constant flow of water into a 5.6 mile stretch of the Cuyahoga ship channel.

Bed load sediment are the larger, heavier portion of sediments that travel along the riverbed, hence the term. Bed load interception involves placing a collection device (see photo) on the bottom of river – upstream of the ship channel – to capitalize on the natural energy of the flowing water to harvest the heavier sediments. This technique prevents much of the bed load material from ever entering the ship channel, where it would need to be removed later by costly dredging.

Bed load interception is especially attractive because the sediment is collected before it can be contaminated by downstream pollutants in the ship channel, making it clean enough to be sold for unrestricted uses. Research sponsored by the Port showed that sediment from upstream bed load is clean enough even for uses in residential purposes. This study was conducted over several months in different flow conditions by researchers at the University of Akron and confirmed by the Ohio EPA.

By selling high quality (healthy) bed load sediment, we never need to dredge it or put it into a CDF. This gives us a potential reduction of 15% – 20% off the total dredging material normally placed in a CDF. That’s a big dent in our dredging disposal problem.

Best of all, the dollars generated by selling the bed load are expected to be more than enough to pay for the operation, and the excess revenues can be driven back into other Port sediment management operations.

We’ve already identified an ideal location in the Cuyahoga where we believe the river’s contours make bed load interception especially effective. And we’ve applied for support from the State of Ohio’s newly created Healthy Lake Capital Fund to implement a two-year, full-scale pilot program to confirm our expectations.

It’s an exciting project, and one that the Port expects will make a major contribution to solving the challenge of dredging and disposal. Next time around, I’ll explain the remaining two strategies of our plan to increase the CDF capacity.

 

By Jim White, Director, Sustainable Infrastructure Programs

Part I: Clean, Safe, and Efficient: The Port’s Alternative to Open Lake Disposal

Every year, the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) dredges more than 200,000 cubic yards of sediment from the Cuyahoga riverbed. At the Port of Cleveland, we’re working on creative ways to deal with that material in environmentally safe, potentially productive and cost effective ways.

Finding a place to dispose of dredged materials has become challenging. Historically, these materials contained pollutants, which required placement by USACE in confined disposal facilities (CDF).  The dredged materials were pumped as a slurry (a mix of water and sediment) into the CDFs, limiting the capacity to a “brimful” volume from all the additional water.  As a result, the CDFs will be full in 2015 if we continue the current method of placement.

This past year USACE provided sampling results of dredged sediment that indicated to USACE that the sediments were now clean enough for direct dumping in the open waters of Lake Erie.  Ohio EPA has not concurred with USACE’s sampling methods and its conclusions.

Concerned by the need to maintain full navigable depth in the Cuyahoga River’s ship channel and to properly accommodate sediment, the Port has developed and is recommending a multi-tier plan. It is a result of rigorous scientific studies and market analysis, giving the Port confidence that we have safe, efficient alternatives for managing river sediment through a combination of three key strategies that will extend the useful life for decades of the current CDF. Our plan involves:

 1.) Intercepting Sediment Upstream – by keeping significant amounts of sediment from making its way into the shipping channel through an innovative upstream process of capturing it before it lands in the shipping channel;

 2.) Marketing Sediment – by finding opportunities to sell sediment for a variety beneficial uses, such as material for composting and road fill; and

 3.) Drying sediment and vertical placement – by dewatering or draining sediment before it is placed in the CDF, we can significantly decrease the amount of CDF space consumed.

We are confident the combination of these three methods can stretch the useful life of the current CDF for decades and avoid any risks involved in open lake dumping.

If this blog piqued your curiosities, please be aware that over the next three weeks I’ll be uploading one brief blog post per week that explains each of these methods and where we stand with its implementation. It may seem a bit geeky, but it’s important to keeping our water clean and our harbor open for commercial ships.

Thanks for reading and please keep watching for notices that more is available.

 

By Jim White, Director, Sustainable Infrastructure Programs

 

Maritime Making a Difference for the Environment

Maritime Making a Difference for the Environment

There’s good reason the Port of Cleveland views itself as a green port. It’s evident in our strategic plan, which states the importance of sustainability and environmental stewardship. More so, and better yet, our actions amplify our pledge to be green.

We need to look no further than a former sediment disposal site that we’ve positioned into a spectacular lakefront nature preserve that attracts diverse wildlife and international visitors. Likewise, we’ve championed infrastructure investments that will preserve and improve the health of the Cuyahoga River. We’ve advocated to keep sediment with questionable elements from being dumped openly in Lake Erie.  And we operate a pair of award-winning workboats that remove hundreds of tons of trash and debris from our harbor each year.

These are all important initiatives, and these are contributing to the green focus of our mission. But equally important and often overlooked in the Port’s green agenda is the fact that using maritime to transport goods has an immensely positive impact on the environment.

For context, take one recent study that found that shipping goods from the Great Lakes through the St. Lawrence Seaway is 24% more fuel-efficient than shipping by rail and 531% more efficient than by truck. (Check out that study, conducted under the auspices of the U.S. and Canadian Seaway management agencies and shipping groups, here). These efficiencies help businesses locally remain competitive, but they also help the environment – limiting the amount of fuels burned and the level of greenhouse gasses and criteria air contaminant emissions created.

The Port is pushing maritime harder than ever and having significant success expanding the universe of customers for our services, which now include the only regularly scheduled direct international liner service from Great Lakes – the Cleveland-Europe Express (see video). By ramping up shipping through our Port and making it more competitive with other coastal ports, we’re also eliminating the need for Midwest companies to burn more fossil fuels shipping by truck and rail to those ports. The economic benefits we’re generating for companies using our services are also producing environmental benefits as part of the package. It’s a cliché, but it truly is a win-win scenario.

Cleveland is closing in on the 50th anniversary of the Cuyahoga catching fire. We’ve come a long way since then, as our waterfronts are cleaner than they’ve been in over a century. But we need to continue leveraging waterfronts for commerce to help keep our environmental momentum trending upwards. The Port of Cleveland is committed to continuing its leadership in making that happen.

By Will Friedman

More Value Added from New Stevedore and Expanded Cleveland-Europe Express

More Value Added from New Stevedore and Expanded Cleveland-Europe Express

The Port of Cleveland is committed to continuous improvement with the services we offer and the experience our customers receive. You may have heard that this commitment is causing us to expand the Cleveland-Europe Express – the only regularly scheduled shipping service from the Great Lakes to Europe – to a bi-weekly schedule next Spring to meet demand for more frequent connections to global markets.

As we double the frequency of the Express, we’re also adding another key piece to improve on-dock service. Valport Maritime Services, via its subsidiary C-Port Maritime, is now stevedore for the Cleveland-Europe Express.  Federal Marine Terminals remains stevedore for all other carriers and users of our general cargo docks, including our booming steel trade.

We are also extremely pleased to be awarded the top-ranking port in the Great Lakes and the top-scoring port in the nation in Logistic Management’s annual “Quest for Quality” survey.  This is a clear indicator that our efforts to be more relevant to the shipping community through innovation are working.

With the Cleveland-Europe Express liner service doubling its frequency, the Port of Cleveland continues to position itself as the port of choice for Midwest shippers. To learn more, please contact:  Stephen Glowacki, s.glowacki@spliethoff.com, (216) 377-1341.

by Will Friedman

 

 

Port of Cleveland Ranks #1 in Annual Logistics Survey

Port of Cleveland Ranks #1 in Annual Logistics Survey

Port credits innovative European liner service and rail investments

CLEVELAND, OH (September 23, 2014) – The Port of Cleveland is ranked as providing the best customer satisfaction and performance excellence among Great Lakes ports and scored the highest among all ports in the nation, according to the annual “Quest for Quality Awards” given by Logistics Management magazine.

For more than three decades, “Quest for Quality” has been regarded in the transportation and logistics industry as the most credible measure of customer satisfaction and performance excellence. Its scores come from port customers, “the buyers of logistics and transportation services who put these ports to work around the clock and around the globe,” said Michael Levans, Group Editorial Director of Peerless Media, LLC., the publisher of Logistics Management.  Full Press Release 2014.09.23

PORT OF CLEVELAND & SPLIETHOFF TO ADD SECOND SAILING TO CLEVELAND-EUROPE EXPRESS

New stevedore for CEE in Cleveland also announced

AMSTERDAM, NS/CLEVELAND, OH (September 18, 2014) – The Port of Cleveland and Amsterdam-based Spliethoff Group announced today their mutual intent to add a second monthly vessel to the Cleveland-Europe Express (CEE), the only scheduled ocean service for containerized and breakbulk freight operating between Europe and a Great Lakes port.  Full Press Release 2014.09.18

Port is full of opportunity

Port is full of opportunity

As published in Crain’s Cleveland Business on September 15, 2014

Goodyear announced recently that it’s no longer considering Ohio as an option for a major, new manufacturing plant that will supply markets in North and Latin America. Although this decision stings now, what’s good for Goodyear, which recently doubled down on its headquarters in Akron and employs over 3,000 Ohioans, is good for the Buckeye State. Rather than cry in our cereal, we should take heed of the considerations that drove Goodyear’s decision so we are in the best possible position to compete for investments going forward.

To that end, Goodyear’s news release cited “logistics [. . .] and access to a deep-sea port” in particular as “key factors” in the decision. With growing markets in South and Latin America, it’s understandable that a Midwestern location was not ideal for this plant. The added costs of shipping from Ohio were likely a factor in Goodyear’s statement that “locating in Ohio would add more than $50 million a year in costs over other locations.”

The good news is that Ohio’s global traders can, in fact, save money shipping directly from the Port of Cleveland. Many businesses in Ohio and the Midwest serve markets that are cost-effectively reached by a direct sea route from the Great Lakes. Since arriving here four years ago, I’ve steered our Port on a course to exploit this advantage for businesses with high sensitivity to port accessibility and other logistics factors.

Our primary challenge is increasing awareness because many companies have, regrettably, forgotten that Ohio does have access to global markets through the St. Lawrence Seaway.  When the Seaway was completed in 1959, the Great Lakes were hailed as America’s “fourth seacoast.” While the full potential of the fourth coast has yet to be fully realized, this all-water connection to the world does provide significant competitive benefits to Ohio businesses, and we have data and real-world results to prove it.

A recent study conducted under the auspices of the U.S. and Canadian Seaway management agencies and shipping groups reports that shipping goods from the Great Lakes through the St. Lawrence Seaway is 24% more fuel-efficient than shipping by rail and 531% more efficient than by truck. These are material savings that can go straight to the bottom line.    

The Economist recently released an analysis of what makes cities economically competitive on a global scale. “Easy maritime access” was a key factor, with nine out of ten of the fastest risers in competitiveness being a seaport or having easy maritime access, while those losing competitiveness are lacking in this area.

For exactly this reason, we began the Cleveland-Europe Express (CEE) ocean cargo service this year—a scheduled liner service for international freight. For the first time in decades, Ohio firms have a direct, scheduled option from the Port of Cleveland to the cargo hub of Antwerp, Belgium, which has onward connections to destinations worldwide.

Early adopters of our new service are saving time and money while reaching markets in Europe, Russia, Asia, and the Middle East. Users are reporting door-to-door transit times between Cleveland and Europe up to 10 days faster than shipping through an East Coast port.

Ohio is already a powerhouse in global commerce. The US Department of Commerce recently released figures indicating that firms in Northeast Ohio alone exported goods worth $18 billion in 2012, a figure that has grown significantly over the past five years. It’s our job to convince regional firms and others throughout the Midwest that ocean services based at the Port of Cleveland, including our new CEE service, add value to their global supply chain operations.

We know old habits die hard. It will take at least two shipping seasons for our CEE service to fully penetrate the market and stabilize financially.  We knew going in we had to play the long game.  Ports invest “patient capital” that can take years or even decades to result in job growth and new investments. That’s the essence of our mission.   

I hear some say some say shipping on the Great Lakes is obsolete or doesn’t matter anymore. The Goodyear decision tells us just the opposite is true—our Lake Erie and Ohio River ports matter now more than ever. With adequate support and the opportunity to pitch our capabilities, our ports will help Ohio win the future competitions for investments and jobs. That’s job one every day at the Port of Cleveland.

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