The Union Pacific Railroad announced it plans to invest $1 billion in rail projects in Nebraska over the next seven years.
"We are renewing our commitment to the state," said Jim Young, chief executive of the Omaha-based railroad that has been based in Nebraska for 150 years.
Young said the projects are to include $200 million in upgrades to the UPR’s primary east-west track through Nebraska will add at least 1,000 new jobs.
The rail carrier reportedly qualifies for up to $100 million in tax breaks from the state of Nebraska in exchange for implementing the capacity upgrade investments and associated job creation.
"This is extraordinary news. We've never had a billion dollars invested in this state by one company," said Nebraska Governor Dave Heineman.
Union Pacific reported its freight revenue rose 24 percent in the fourth and that it plans to invest $3.6 billion in 2012 on upgrades to its throughout its network.
Massport to lay off 25 in wake of COSCO service suspension
The Massachusetts Port Authority will reportedly lay off approximately 25 longshoremen and clerks at its Conley Terminal on the heels of the decision by China Ocean Shipping Company would suspend its U.S. East Coast-Southeast Asia service.
The Boston Globe reports the loss of the COSCO service launched last May that transited the Suez Canal would mean Massport drops about 1,000 TEUs per week, or a third of Conley Terminal’s business.
COSCO is reportedly also eliminating its Suez Canal transits to the ports of New York-New Jersey and Norfolk, Virginia.
“COSCO’s business, like everyone’s business, to be honest, is off,’’ said company spokesman Gene Hartigan to the Boston Globe.
Conley Terminal reportedly lost $6 million in operating revenue last year, and the loss of the Suez Canal service could mean a $12 million loss this year, Massport officials told the Globe.
Wages for longshoremen and clerks at the terminal, who belong to the International Longshoremen’s Association, are scheduled to increase a reported 14 percent on average this year.
The Virginia Port Authority announced its containerized cargo volume at Hampton Roads grew 1.2 percent in 2011 over the previous year, handling 1,918,029 TEUs.
“We posted growth in all core areas including container volume, in our rail, breakbulk and auto operations and at VIP (Virginia Inland Port),” said Jerry A. Bridges, executive director of the VPA, in a statement on the authority’s blog as reported by the Virginian-Pilot.
Caterpillar to sell distribution unit to Canadian firm for $465 mil
Caterpillar Inc. has reportedly agreed to sell its distribution and support business to Vancouver, B.C. -based Finning International for $465 million.
Finning is the largest dealer in the world of CAT equipment, and will take over the sales, service and support operations of the distribution business from Milwaukee-based Bucyrus International Inc., a mining manufacturer.
The Peoria Journal Star reports that approximately 900 Bucyrus employees will move over to Finning.
CAT operates Bucyrus mining equipment factories in Milwaukee.
Animated video timeline: Cruiseship captain claims he was ordered to perform tragic maneuver
Link below to an animated video timeline regarding Captain Francesco Schettino’s claim that he was ordered by Costa Cruises to perform the maneuver known as a “salute,” which brings a ship closer to shore to give passengers a better view.
On January 13, the Costa Concordia subsequently ran aground off the Tuscan island of Giglio with least 13 fatalities reported to date:
Wednesday, January 25, 2012
U.S. War savings into infrastructure?
In his State of the Union speech last night President Barack Obama proposed pumping half of what he said would be savings from the end of American involvement in wars in Afghanistan and Iraq into a U.S. infrastructure that ranked 16th in the world last year.
"So much of America needs to be rebuilt," the President said in his speech, without offering any specific monetary figures, however the Congressional Budget Office estimates the war chest savings would be approximately $440 billion.
The World Economic Forum recently released its global infrastructure competitiveness report for 2011-1012 and the U.S. came it at 16th, including 23rd for port infrastructure.
President Obama proposed a $556 billion, six-year transportation last year that included funding for high-speed rail that hit a dead-end in Congress.
German container-shipping line Hamburg Süd announced it would cease providing chassis to its customers as of March 15 at the Port of New York and New Jersey.
"Shippers, their agents or consignees, can procure equipment either directly from the Metro Pool via Trac Intermodal or from various other chassis vendors. Carrier provided intermodal moves will be unaffected by this change," the ocean carrier said in a statement.
Lloyds could parcel out $10 bil in shipping loans
Amid the euro-zone debt crisis and a struggling shipping industry, Lloyds Banking Group is reportedly considering selling its $10 billion shipping loan portfolio in parcels rather than to a single buyer, according to sources cited in a Reuters report.
Lloyds is 41 percent owned by the U.K. government and has reportedly been in discussions over the past year to sell its book of ship finance business.
"They are trying to parcel it off and sell it in bits," a senior ship industry source told Reuters.
Wallenius Wilhelmsen Logistics opens office in Moscow
Oslo, Norway-based Wallenius Wilhelmsen Logistics announced it has opened a new office in Moscow.
The automotive and ro-ro logistics company said in a statement that it believes Moscow is the central vehicle logistics hub in Russia, "a market that, after a short set-back in 2009, has seen rapid growth in the automotive and rolling equipment sector over the past years."
"Automotive and rolling equipment importers as well as foreign companies building up local production have their main offices in Moscow, and we want to be close in order to support their logistics needs in the best possible way," says Søren Tousgaard Jensen, managing director for WWL Russia.
Seafarers reportedly stuck without pay for months on stranded ship
A crew of five has reportedly been stranded on a cargo vessel without pay for three months off the coast of Dorset, England.
The vessel Westwind II ran aground at Weymouth Harbor in a storm in October last year and was subsequently arrested by local Admiralty for allegedly dragging its anchor, damaging commercial mussel beds, according to a report by the BBC.
Seafarer charity Apostleship of the Sea is attempting to help the ship's crew who have reportedly said
they have not been paid wages since last June of last year.
The crewmembers are apparently free to leave but they maintain they won't ever be paid if they do so.
Apostleship of the Sea's Rev. Roger Stone has been on board and told the BBC: "Life's pretty miserable actually for the crew because they have nothing to do all day. All they're really doing is waiting for their wages to be paid so they can go home."
The remaining crewmembers are from Turkey and Georgia. The Captain reportedly left several weeks ago.
The global containership fleet may have slowed down as much as possible - steaming 11 percent lower since last August, according to industry data.
The "slow-steaming" approach reportedly helped the container lines to profitability in 2010; however, there may not be a speed low enough to help stem the tide of over-capacity that is forecast for 2012.
"Container lines have already exhausted most of the tricks for absorbing capacity," said Bjorn Vang Jensen, vice president at Electrolux AB, a shipper of about 150,000 containers per year. "Some of these container ships are now so slow that they're close to the speeds of the old sailing ships. The clippers might actually have been faster," he told Bloomberg.
The slow boat approach might not be enough for smaller container-shipping lines according to Drewry Shipping Consultants Ltd. that estimates some of those companies could go broke by the year's second half with capacity outweighing depressed freight rates.
Slow steaming, initially launched full-scale by Maersk, is designed to be a fuel-saving measure for ship operators in the face of over-capacity and lower shipping rates.
Drawing from 30 corporate sustainability reports and interviews with representatives of 20 retailers, the Retail Industry Leaders Association released what it claims is the first ever industry-wide Retail Sustainability Report.
"This report is a first look at the broader industry's accomplishments, challenges, and future directions. It lays a foundation to determine where we can go from here," said said Adam Siegel, RILA vice president of sustainability and retail operations in a statement.
RILA said companies that participated in the sustainability reports assembly included Safeway, Whole Foods, J.C Penney, Sears, Gap, VF Corp, DIY, "and big box retailers."
According to RILA, the report identifies what the industry group says are four trends that revealed retailers are: "working with stakeholders across sectors to achieve sustainability goals; turning from sustainability as a cost and risk reduction measure to an opportunity for business growth; developing systems for continuous improvement by pulling together controls, measurement and management tools and IT systems; and fostering transparency in operations and in the supply chain."
The report includes a sustainability outlook for the next five to ten years that forecasts sustainability will become integrated into the business; the drive to manage supply chain impacts will transform retailer-supplier relationships; industry collaboration will become the standard; business models will evolve as consumption habits change; and that customer expectations for corporate social responsibility also will push retailers accelerate their efforts.
RILA said target aims to achieve Energy Star certification for at least 75 percent of its sites by 2015, and that The Home Depot is working towards shrinking its environmental footprint such as using local materials, native plants and building controls at stores. Lowe's is working with the carriers that transport its goods to be smarter about fuel efficiency, RILA said.
Ag exports helped Port of Tacoma's positive box growth in 2011
The Port of Tacoma's container business in 2011 edged upwards thanks to an 11 percent boost in exported boxes that the port attributed to increased agricultural cargoes that included potatoes, hops and hay.
The port posted 1,488,799 TEUs last year, up just over 2 percent from 2010's numbers - and the first year of positive containerized growth for Tacoma since 2006.
The Puget Sound port said its overall tonnage was up 5 percent at 17,270,252 tons handled.
The port's breakbulk business was up 68 percent and auto traffic increased 34 percent to 162,434 autos handled.
Log exports were up 45 percent, with containerized lumber exports surging 33 percent, the port said.
The port's domestic container business that is predominated by shipping traffic with Alaska was down 2.5 percent to 466,841 TEUs.
The new chief of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey lauded President Obama's State of the Union address this week for touching on the need for a more streamlined approach to critical infrastructure projects.
Patrick J. Foye, who has been executive director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey since the beginning of November, said in a statement that he applauds "the President's initiative to clear away red tape that slows down critical projects like the Tappan Zee Bridge in New York State, and our two bistate projects at the Goethals and Bayonne bridges."
"Allowing these projects to linger in regulatory and environmental bureaucracy for years and years costs the region's economy dearly in terms of job creation and economic activity. Reason and common sense must overcome process to get projects to market quicker, all of which can be done consistent with protecting our environment," Foye said.
Safety inspectors seized 25,000 "unsafe" toys at Port of Houston
Inspectors at the Port of Houston reportedly seized 25,000 imported toys that were considered unsafe from 2010 to 2011 by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.
Toys that were confiscated included boxes of toy
Bears shipped from China.
"If the bear's nose and eyes can be easily pulled off, those small parts could choke children," said David McCabe, compliance investigator at the port in a Houston Chronicle story.
McCade reportedly tested parts from the toy bears in a cylinder. "Anything that fits in the cylinder is too risky for children to play with," he said.
The CPSC's stepped up safety inspections at the busiest U.S. ports grew out of the lead paint recalls on products from China in 2007.
The CPSC is reportedly focused on toys that could pose choking hazards and lead paint exposure.
Congress increased the budget of the CPSC in 2008 when 45 million children's products and toys were recalled, many from China.
The CPSC was charged with setting up a website where consumers can lodge complaints and scan those made by the others.
At the Port of Houston, McCabe said he inspects 150 shipments a year, or one every other day.
SC House seeks to revoke Georgia's dredging permit
The South Carolina House voted unanimously to temporarily suspend the authority of the state's environmental agency on dredging decisions, as lawmakers try to find a way to rescind the dredging permit the agency awarded to Georgia to expand its Savannah port.
South Carolina and Georgia share the Savannah River, and the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control has responsibility for dredging decisions in the state.
The S.C. Savannah River Maritime Commission, created by the legislature in 2007, was created to represent S.C. on navigability issues with regards to the river shared with Georgia.
The problem occurred when the DHEC handed over a permit in November allowing Georgia to dredge the Savannah River - two months after the SRMC denied it for unacceptable harm to the environment. The DHEC did not consult the commission before awarding the permit. The environmental agency was evidently asked by Governor Nikki Haley to hear an appeal from Georgia on the decision, but before the appeal could be heard, DHEC staff reached an agreement with Georgia and the Army Corps of Engineers to allow the dredging, which was then approved by the governor-appointed board.
The governor and the DHEC are under fire for the decision. Legislators convened hearings, outraged that South Carolina gave Georgia the competitive advantage over Charleston's port, with potentially dire consequences to the S.C. economy.
The deal would effectively undermine efforts to create a port in Jasper County, 14 miles closer than Savannah to the Atlantic Ocean, since as a result of the agreement, S.C. won't have access to land slated for the Jasper port for decades.
The SRMC filed an appeal with the Southern Environmental Law Center, arguing the permit was improperly granted, and cited danger to the environment, including destroying the habitat of endangered fish and acres of freshwater marsh.
After U.S. Transportation Secretary Roy LeHood announced yesterday there was little hope of a transportation bill passing in 2012, Senate Democrats rushed to complete a bipartisan effort to end the three-year stalemate that has stalled surface transportation legislation.
California Senator Barbara Boxer said the bill would reach the floor before transportation funding expires on March 31. Long-term funding ran out in 2009, and the subsequent eight temporary extensions have created rising uncertainty in U.S. transportation planning efforts.
The House bill will likely be distributed to transportation committee members Friday. The bill constellates concepts outlined by Florida representative and transportation committee chair John Mica.
The second largest container company in the world, Mediterranean Shipping Company, will make Virginia's Hampton Roads port the last stop out, as well as an inbound destination in its service connecting the East Coast with Asia via the Suez Canal.
The change is effective in early February.
The shipping line's inbound "Golden Gate Service" calls at New York/New Jersey first, then Hampton Roads, Baltimore and Savannah. Ships then go to Freeport in the Bahamas, back to Charleston and then to Hampton Roads again, the last stop before heading back toward the Suez Canal, according to the Virginia Port Authority.
A shipment containing $2 million worth of cocaine was intercepted by security last week in the mailroom at United Nations headquarters in New York.
The bags were shipped from Mexico via a DHL center in Cincinnati, Ohio. The cocaine was stuffed inside hollowed out books and hidden inside two mailbags marked with bogus UN logos.
Police suspect it's a botched drug smuggling attempt. Since there was no addressee, and because of the "UN logo," DHL shipped the bags on to the UN, thinking the global body would figure out who it was supposed to go to.
Officials have a working theory that the drugs were never meant to leave Mexico.