Thursday, July 24, 2008

Large Cargo Ships Emit Double Amount of Soot Previously Estimated

Large Cargo Ships Emit Double Amount of Soot Previously Estimated

ScienceDaily (July 11, 2008)
Tugboats puff out more soot for the amount of fuel used than other commercial vessels, and large cargo ships emit more than twice as much soot as previously estimated, according to the first extensive study of commercial vessel soot emissions. Scientists from NOAA and the University of Colorado conducted the study and present their findings in the July 11 issue of the journal Geophysical Research Letters.

The primary sources of soot, or small particles of black carbon, are fossil fuel combustion, wildfires, and burning vegetation for agricultural purposes. In the Arctic, an increase in soot may contribute to climate change if shipping routes expand, according to the study.

“Commercial shipping emissions have been one of the least studied areas of all combustion emissions,” said lead author Daniel Lack, of NOAA’s Earth System Research Laboratory (ESRL) and the NOAA-CU Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences. “The two previous studies of soot emissions examined a total of three ships. We reviewed plumes from 96 different vessels.”

Lack and his colleagues observed emission plumes from commercial vessels in open ocean waters, channels, and ports along the southeast United States and Texas during the summer of 2006. From the NOAA research vessel, Ronald H. Brown, the team measured black carbon emitted by tankers, cargo and container ships, large fishing boats, tug boats, and ferries, many of them in the Houston Ship Channel.

Commercial shipping releases roughly 130,000 metric tons of soot per year, or 1.7 percent of the global total — much of it near highly populated coastlines, the authors estimate. In the coming years global shipping is expected to grow two to six percent annually.

Tugs emit nearly a gram of soot per kilogram of fuel burned — twice as much as any other vessel type, the authors found. The high levels point to their low-quality fuel — a thick, black tar left over from crude oil after the gasoline and kerosene have been removed. Engine age and maintenance also play a role. Tugboats have a disproportionate impact on air quality because they travel within ports, emitting potentially harmful particles near populous urban areas, according to the authors.

“Tugboats are a huge source of black carbon that may be under-reported or not reported at all in emissions inventories compiled by ports,” said Lack.

Oceangoing tankers and container ships emit half a gram per kilogram of fuel burned when at dock and slightly less when traveling, according to the study. That’s more than twice as much as previously estimated.

A 2007 study by American and German scientists linked particle pollution from shipping to tens of thousands of premature deaths each year, most of them along coastlines in Europe, East Asia, and South Asia. Soot makes up a quarter of that pollution, said Lack.

On a global scale, soot currently traps about 30 percent as much heat as does carbon dioxide, the most important greenhouse gas, according to the latest assessment of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The small dark particles absorb sunlight, create haze, and affect how clouds form and make rain, further altering a region’s heat balance, according to the new NOAA study. If commercial shipping extends new routes through Arctic waters as they become navigable, soot emissions there could increase


Hurricane Season: Disaster Readiness Tips from James Lee Witt

James Lee Witt, director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency under President Clinton and now a disaster recovery consultant, talks about readiness during this hurricane season

Diann Daniel, CSO

August 01, 2006

CSO: What should security executives be doing for hurricane season?

James Lee Witt: The first thing is to make sure that you have the insurance coverage you need, whether it's for wind or whether it's flood insurance if your business is in a 100-year flood plain. Second, I would make sure that every employee understood that if we had to evacuate, where we would go, where we would reconvene our business so that we could continue to operate. Then, I'd make sure that I [could] send out alerts to all my employees—particularly if it was during a weekend or if employees were traveling—about what was going on and what they needed to do.

So many times we forget that every dollar we invest in prevention or preparedness could potentially save us $3 to $5 in future losses, and with the business interruption side of it, it could be even higher.

I would also make sure that all my customers and suppliers understood my plan—what I would need to do, how I would do it—and then I'd ask them to do likewise to make sure that the supply chain wasn't broken.

Why do you think that some businesses don't prepare?

The biggest problem I have seen is getting the buy-in and support from upper management. When I was director of FEMA, we did a survey of small businesses after disasters and found that 20 percent to 25 percent of those businesses affected by a catastrophic event never reopened.

During Hurricane Fran in North Carolina, GE had a plant there. They had retrofitted their plant for hurricane resistance, and after the hurricane was over, their plant was still OK, but there were no employees to come back to work for the next two days because they were taking care of their families and their homes. Anheuser-Busch in Pasadena, Calif., before the Northridge earthquake, spent $25 million to retrofit their plant for an earthquake, and they were open and operating two days after the earthquake, making canned water for victims in the community. They said that $25 million probably saved them $150 million.

Every business should help their employees develop a plan for their families, so everybody has a contact place to call to [let family] know that they're OK. If you have a catastrophic event and you need to go back in to check your business, you need to work with your local government's fire, emergency management, police, and you need to meet with the fire chief and police chief and say, "OK, here's our plan. Can we get credentials to allow us back in to check on our business?"

Who has developed a great disaster recovery plan?

I think Chicago probably has developed the best public-private partner concept, particularly ChicagoFirst working with the city and private sector. They have brought the private sector to the table, sat them down and just really developed a very good concept of how they both could help each other. What are you going to do if you need ice? What are you going to do if you need water? What are you going to do if you need a generator? Just all the kinds of things that might help you get through the first five days. That's all part of that planning process.

What would you recommend businesses think about?

I would look at what resources and capabilities I have within the company, and then I would look at what resources I would need [from] outside of the company. Then, if I needed to, I would look at having pre-event contracts set up to provide those resources and capabilities. Then I would work with the state or local government and say, "Here's my plan, here are the resources that we have that we would have available to help if we survive an event, but here's the type of resources that we may need."

Published July 13, 2008

With the 25th anniversary of Hurricane Alicia approaching, many residents are discussing whether the Texas Coast is ready for the next big storm. John Simsen, emergency management coordinator for Galveston County, talked about the county’s plans.

Q: How would you rate our preparedness for hurricane season?

A: From a government standpoint, I would give us a B+. We have detailed local and regional plans for coordinating evacuations, identifying and assisting those with special needs, locating transportation resources and accommodating pets. We have excellent emergency facilities that can weather a severe storm, and we have public and private partners ready to launch a massive recovery effort if needed. But there is always more work to be done. You can never be completely prepared for a significant hurricane.

Q: Where do we get our highest grades?

A: Cooperation between the cities and counties in our region has never been better, in part because of the Hurricane Rita “wake-up call” and the strong influence of our local elected leaders. Galveston County’s conference call process for making evacuation and re-entry decisions has been embraced by the region, ensuring that our need to evacuate ahead of the Houston population is properly communicated.

We have countywide contracts in place for buses to help transport special needs residents to safety and agreements with UTMB and the city of Austin to help care for them. And for the first time in county history, every community in Galveston County has a contract in place to assist with debris cleanup after a major storm — a critical component of the recovery process.

Q: How about the lowest?

A: Public perceptions about government’s ability to coordinate a smooth evacuation of the Houston region remain low, despite significant improvements since Hurricane Rita.

The state, through partnerships with public agencies and private industry, is prepared to provide adequate fuel, wrecker services, welcome centers and shelters to assist the evacuating population along the primary evacuation routes.

A refined “contra-flow” or reverse-flow traffic plan is set for implementation 36 hours prior to landfall to help reduce traffic bottlenecks, and local and regional efforts to coordinate a phased evacuation of those areas susceptible to storm surge are now in place.

Yet citizens tell us at community meetings that they are worried about getting stuck in traffic or running out of fuel. Many say they just won’t leave if asked to do so. This is a dangerous position to take in a county that absolutely must evacuate when a Category 4-5 storm threatens. I lose sleep worrying about these citizens and hope their families and friends will convince them to leave when the time comes.

Q: Are we set to help out the most vulnerable populations — those that can’t get out of danger without help?

A: Galveston County has a robust plan to move upward of 6,000 special-needs evacuees from two departure points – the Island Community Center at 4700 Broadway and the Doyle Center at 2010 Fifth Ave. N. in Texas City. Rising gas prices may force more citizens to use this evacuation option, and emergency managers are preparing for this possibility by factoring in additional buses and shelter space.

Each city in the county maintains its own special-needs registry and takes responsibility for either transporting these citizens to the embarkation points or arranging other assistance such as an ambulance. Though we try to stay in touch with the citizens on our special-needs lists, some are hard to reach because they are transient and distrustful of government. We urge them or their families to call 211 or their local office of emergency management to register for assistance. They need to register today, not when a hurricane threatens.

Q: The 25th anniversary of Alicia is getting some attention. How has the picture changed since then? What should we be worried about now?

A: Emergency managers have spent countless hours preparing for the next massive, Rita-like hurricane. But the odds are just as good that the next hurricane to impact Galveston County will form on our doorstep, like Hurricane Alicia, and leave us with little time to react.

Hurricane Humberto formed in the Gulf just south of Galveston and reached Category 1 strength in 19 hours last September, making landfall on High Island and causing millions of dollars worth of damage. Had it formed a little farther south and west in the Gulf, it could have made landfall directly over Galveston Island as a Category 2 storm, with substantially more devastation.

The explosive population growth in Galveston County since 1983 makes it imperative that all citizens have both a well-stocked disaster supply kit and a family evacuation plan. We can’t pour enough concrete to make an evacuation through the nation’s third largest city trouble-free. Delays are inevitable, and so are false alarms. Take steps to minimize the impacts on your family by staying prepared and informed.

Q: If there were one thing you could convince the average resident of the county of, what would that be?

A: Galveston County is a beautiful place to live, work and raise a family. But with the good comes the bad — the ever-present threat of severe weather events. If you choose to live here, you must accept personal responsibility for the safety of your family, relatives and pets. At some point, government will not be able to assist, and your attention to details today will ensure your personal safety down the road.


USCG – AMVER anniversary

The US Coast Guard issued a press release stating that July 18 marked the 50th anniversary of Automated Mutual Vessel Rescue System (AMVER). As the only worldwide voluntary ship reporting system for safety of life and property at sea, AMVER was involved in 181 calls for assistance in 2007 and contributed to saving 450 lives. (7/18/08).

Chesapeake Bay – “smart buoy” deployed

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) issued a news release stating that a “smart buoy” has been deployed at Stingray Point at the mouth of the Rappahannock River is Chesapeake Bay. The buoy collects weather, oceanographic, and water-quality observations and transmits this data wirelessly in near-real time. The measurements can be accessed at Buoy-Bay. (7/18/08).

Cleveland firefighter still missing in Lake Erie


Monday July 21 2008, 10:46pm


A search covering 12-square nautical miles of Lake Erie that used divers, sonar and a helicopter was unable to locate the body of a Cleveland firefighter who went overboard Saturday evening.

The search for Kenneth Alderman, a 44-year-old Cleveland firefighter, was suspended at 3 p.m. Sunday. The hunt will not resume until further evidence of his location is discovered, authorities said.

Alderman went missing after he fell in the lake about two miles east of the Sandusky break wall shortly before 8 p.m. Saturday, said U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer William Mitchell. He was aboard a 30-foot recreational boat with three other people, including his fiancĂ©e and the boat’s owner. He was not wearing a safety vest.

The circumstances that led to the firefighter ending up in the water still are not clear. Authorities said only that witnesses saw Alderman struggle in the water and then go under.

“The people on the boat tried to save him after he fell in the water ... but he was in a state of panic when he fell in and tried to fight off the people who tried to rescue him,” Mitchell said. “They saw him actually go underwater — fall beneath the surface of the water.”

Jim Kennedy, fleet manager with Lake Erie Towing, was the first on scene Saturday night and sent a distress signal to the Coast Guard. After releasing green dye into the water to mark the position of the boat, which he described as a white express cruiser with blue trim, Kennedy started searching for Alderman.

His efforts proved unsuccessful, and he found no sign of the man.

Many hours later, the efforts of many agencies were as fruitless. A boat from the Huron Fire Department used a side-scanner to survey Lake Erie’s murky depths. The Cleveland Fire Department sent divers searching for Alderman, and cadaver dogs were used to locate his scent. The Coast Guard continued its search through the late afternoon using two boats and a helicopter.

The search was finally called off after more than 18 hours.

All four people on deck of the recreational vessel were not wearing life vests, Mitchell said. Things may have ended differently if they had, he added.

“This is a typically tragic Great Lakes’ case, where you have people going out to enjoy the weather and have a good time, but because they don’t take precautions — a lifejacket, which would have changed the outcome of the night — it ended in death,” Mitchell said.

Larry Gray, spokesman with the Cleveland Fire Department, said Alderman has 21 years of experience as a firefighter, of which the last 17 he’s spent in the same station.