Freight News, Sea

Port of Baltimore Again Achieves Top International Environmental Certification

[ June 5, 2020   //   ]

The Maryland Department of Transportation Maryland Port Administration (MDOT MPA) has again achieved recertification in the review of international standards for environmental management. The certification – known as ISO 14001 for Environmental Management System – recognizes the many environmental initiatives and programs in place at the Helen Delich Bentley Port of Baltimore’s state-owned public marine terminals.

The certification, awarded by NSF International, is recognized internationally. The environmental management system is used to manage and ensure that MDOT MPA remains in compliance with all federal and state environmental and safety rules and regulations. It also encourages continual improvement. MDOT MPA was the first Maryland state government agency to be certified with the ISO 14001 status in 2014, and was recertified in 2017. Recertification is required every three years, with a yearly external audit in between.

The public marine terminals at the Port of Baltimore take part in numerous successful environmental programs and initiatives, including the following:
• Under the its Diesel Equipment Upgrade Program, the Port of Baltimore replaces older diesel-powered equipment with newer, more efficient versions. Since 2008, 217 older dray trucks, 110 pieces of cargo-handling equipment, 16 locomotive engines and 10 marine engines have been replaced or retrofitted. This has resulted in emissions reductions of 3,304 tons of nitrogen oxide, 922 tons of carbon monoxide, 165 tons of particulate matter and 141 tons of hydrocarbons.

• A recently installed stormwater management system at Fairfield Marine Terminal uses a large underground sand filter that absorbs and treats runoff from the terminal’s 14 acres. The sand filters help ensure that nutrients, debris and sediment are filtered from stormwater before entering Baltimore’s harbor. A similar system is also in place at the Dundalk Marine Terminal.

• MDOT MPA uses sediment dredged from shipping channels that lead to the Port of Baltimore to restore wetlands and eroding islands. Poplar Island, in the Chesapeake Bay off Talbot County, has been rebuilt to its original 1,150 acres using dredged material. Today, it is home to a variety of wildlife and waterfowl. Poplar Island also is an important nesting ground for terrapins. Hart-Miller Island, in the upper Chesapeake Bay near the mouth of Back River in Baltimore County, has been rebuilt and is a popular recreation site for boaters. Poplar and Hart-Miller islands and the Swan Creek wetlands – which is near a dredged material placement site on Cox Creek – offer habitat for migratory birds. Poplar and Hart-Miller islands are listed as important bird areas by the National Audubon Society.

• At Masonville Cove, on the Patapsco River in Baltimore, MDOT MPA cleaned and restored a shoreline that was severely polluted by decades of industrial activity. Work removed 27 abandoned vessels and more than 61,000 tons of trash. Trails through the Masonville wetlands draw visitors who come to observe many species of birds and waterfowl that gather there. The Masonville Cove Environmental Education Center opened in 2009, and more than 2,000 students a year participate in its hands-on programs. In 2013, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service named Masonville Cove its first Urban Wildlife Refuge Partner.

• MDOT MPA also works with the Maryland Department of Natural Resources to restore the bay’s depleted stock of native oysters. MDOT MPA provided funding for a project last year to lay crushed stone on top of the Patapsco’s riverbed between Fort Carroll and the Key Bridge. This initiative allowed oysters to filter pollutants from the river and create food and habitat for other species.

Last year the Port of Baltimore handled a record 43.6 million tons of cargo, including more than 11 million tons of general cargo at the public marine terminals. The Port of Baltimore ranks first among the nation’s ports for volume of autos and light trucks, roll on/roll off heavy farm and construction machinery, and imported gypsum. It ranks 11th among major U.S. ports for cargo handled and ninth nationally for total cargo value.

A record 857,890 cars and light trucks crossed the Port’s public and private piers in 2019, the most in the U.S. for the ninth consecutive year. The Port also handled a record 657,059 containers at the public terminals.