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Long Beach, Second Busiest Port in US Shows Its Awe


Long Beach--We recently got an exciting look inside the second busiest U.S. seaport--the Port of Long Beach, which sprawls over 35 miles of waterfront and is visited by cargo ships as long as three football fields.

The impressive one day tour, which was shared by more than 10,000 people on Oct. 4th at Green Portfest 2009, was viewed by rail, boat and foot. We learned that the port's "On Dock Rail" program now has more than 20% of the containerized cargo being loaded on trains at five of the shipping terminals. Officials said the more loaded on trains, the less the pollution. They've built over 100 miles of tracks for trains, some more than one mile long. A fully loaded train can carry 280 containers. The sulfur diesel fuel of the trains reportedly reduces pollution by 70% over other fuels.

Containers are constantly going both on and off cargo ships. Huge cranes, some as high as 30 story buildings, can pull 30 containers, weighing between 40,000-60,000 pounds, an hour off the ships, port personnel said. The containers go on trains or trucks. The colorful containers are red, blue, green, brown, orange and white, with company names on their sides like Hanjin, Cosco, K Line, Polynesia, Hamburg, Wanhai and Capital.

Each year, $140 billion worth of cargo passes across the port's docks. Not only imports--everything from cars and food--but exports as well. We saw refrigerated containers with Central California frozen chicken and strawberries, getting ready for a journey to Asia.

The Port says many of the gigantic ships are using cleaner fuels and traveling at slower speeds--helping cut down on the pollution. A Green Port Policy, adopted in 2005, is further working to protect the community from harmful environmental impacts (i.e., truck containers pass through radiation detectors before going out onto the highways).

Security is ever present throughout the complex on land, in the water and overhead as law enforcement agencies are coordinating their efforts to prevent crime.

Many Portfest guests got to view the area on a special free Metrolink train as well as on harbor tours. From the boats you could see islands, designed by Disney, where oil companies have reportedly pumped more than 900 million barrels of oil since 1965. You also could see the manmade breakwater (9 miles long and 205 feet deep) that was initially started in 1899! A bird sanctuary for migratory fowl, sea lions and ships, like Sea Launch (which helps launch commercial satellites from platforms in the ocean), were added bonuses to the fascinating day.

(We thank the Port of Long Beach for explaining their "green" efforts and giving out studies like the USC Sea Grant report on marine life in the bay. For more info, visit their website at  polb.com.)


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