Amid the news about port congestion, the Port of Oakland was able to draw our attention to a little good news in February.
The Army Corps of Engineers completed dredging 400,000 cubic yards of mud from a 50-foot shipping channel leading to the port, and brought it to Suisun Bay where it is being used to restore wetlands.
As it dredged 870 acres of the bay, the spoil which includes river-borne sediment and shifting sands that sweeps in with the tide was barged 52 nautical miles northeast to the 2,400-acre Montezuma Wetlands Restoration Project.
Privately owned Montezuma Wetlands is overseeing a project to restore the marsh with 1.75 million cubic yards of fill. The wetland site has subsided 10 feet since being diked and drained a century ago. With a fresh topcoat, the wetlands should provide a more inviting habitat for shorebirds and other wildlife.
“Dredging is not glamorous,” said Chris Chan, the Port of Oakland’s engineering director. “But it’s essential if we’re going to keep bringing big ships into Oakland, and gratifying when it’s environmentally sustainable.”
Also last month 20 rescued seabirds were released at the Port of Oakland’s Middle Harbor Shoreline Park.
The birds were some of the hundreds contaminated by a mystery “goo” that started showing up dead around the bay in mid-January.
Russ Curtis of International Bird Rescue, a Fairfield, Calif.-based nonprofit, said 323 birds were delivered to his center in the Bay Area for cleaning and care, and another 170 dead birds were collected by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.
Curtis said there is no evidence the “goo” originated at the port.
State, federal and private labs collaborated to identify the substance and found it contained a mixture of non-petroleum-based fats or oils such as silicone fluids, tung oils, wood-derivative oils such as resin/rosin oils, animal fats and edible and inedible seed oils.
International Bird Rescue, which also has a facility in Los Angeles and maintains the Alaska Wildlife Response Center in Anchorage, has been funding the cleaning of the birds with its own money since the identity of the party that caused the pollution is not known.
This commentary was published in the March 2015 issue of American Shipper.