The majority of California ports are uniting to improve their combined defenses against rising sea levels, recognising that climate change poses a serious threat to US ports and coastal communities, according to Shipping Gazette.
The "Storms, Flooding and Sea Level Defense" conference was coordinated by the Propeller Club of northern California and was held at Scott's Seafood in Oakland, California.
Port of Oakland executive director Danny Wan urged heightened awareness of the challenges posed by climate change.
Port of San Francisco executive director Elaine Forbes highlighted increased flooding in downtown San Francisco. She championed passage of a bond issue in 2018 that allocates US$425 million to rebuild the existing seawall protecting downtown and port property. The total projected replacement cost is $5 billion.
Port of Long Beach executive director Mario Cordero cited the port's collaboration with the port of Los Angeles on the Clean Air Action Plan to reduce emissions at terminals and by trucks picking up and delivering freight.
Port of Los Angeles deputy executive director Michael DiBernardo said that climate change adaptation was a top priority and that higher sea levels and storm surges would pose growing challenges for ports.
Propeller Club International president Niels Aalund told conferees that Texas has been experiencing growing disruptions from storms such as Hurricane Harvey, which caused $125 billion in damage to Houston and nearby communities in 2017.
Storms pose a growing threat to Texas ports, communities, commerce and the petrochemical industry in Galveston Bay. As a result, plans are under way to build a huge storm surge barrier to protect Galveston Bay that is projected to cost $40 billion.
Port of Long Beach environmental specialist Justin Luedy expressed concerns about the vulnerability of the breakwaters that protect the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles. A growing incidence of storms coming from the south including Hurricane Marie in 2014 caused breaches in the breakwaters that disruputed vessel arrivals and departures at the two ports.
Port of Rotterdam project engineer flood risk management Joost de Nooijer said in an interview: "As a result of the acceleration in the rise of sea levels, the port of Rotterdam is developing strategies for the port area and facilities to anticipate for long-term risks. This is based on the theory that it is better to make the investment now rather than pay the costs of a disaster later."
The port of Rotterdam has "worked out strategies together with companies like Shell, Exxon Mobil and British Petroleum and will begin working with container terminals in the Maasvlakte complex," Mr De Nooijer noted.
The US Geological Survey (USGS) projects a "likely" 0.25 metre sea level rise by 2040. The impact to California factoring "an extreme storm?would cause substantial flooding that would directly affect over 150,000 residents and $30 billion in property damage."
Local, state and federal emergency services agencies need to upgrade their planning to take into account intensifying damage from sea level rise beginning in 2040 and not 2100. The sea level rise threat is a worldwide threat given that 600 million people live in coastal zones around the world today and one billion will live in these coastal zones by 2050."