Shipping authority seeks to ‘adopt’ Portland

12 May 2016
Months of disputes at the Port of Portland may come to an end with the creation of a new Oregon Shipping Authority

Months of disputes at the Port of Portland may come to an end with the creation of a new Oregon Shipping Authority

An impasse at the Port of Portland in Oregon may have a solution in the form of a state-owned authority tasked with reforming the container shipping terminal at the port.

Following the lease of the terminal by the Port of Portland to a private operator in 2010, disputes between the terminal operator and the longshoreman’s union have reduced operations to a fraction of what they once were.

But a breakthrough may be a sight thanks to Common Sense for Oregon, a non-profit organisation that supports better government and hopes to create the Oregon Shipping Authority (OSA), a public corporation tasked with making Oregon a successful model of reliable, cost-effective and environmentally sensitive shipping.

The project, headed up by president of Common Sense for Oregon, Kevin Mannix, is in its fourth month and aims to present a draft bill for consideration by the Oregon Legislature in January 2017. It brings together exporters from across the region of raw goods and manufactured products together with agricultural participants and industries harmed by the current port slowdowns.

Speaking of his passion for the project, Mr Mannix told Port Strategy that “by taking over ownership of the container terminal, the Oregon Shipping Authority will be empowered to take dynamic action to re-establish container shipping services.”

“The Port of Portland essentially gave up responsibility for container shipping when it leased out the container shipping terminal. The port is not likely thrilled with the proposal to transfer ownership of the terminal to an Oregon Shipping Authority, but our position is that they pushed the child out of the house in 2010, and they should not object if someone else wants to adopt the child,” he added.

The draft bill aims to establish the OSA as a public corporation with the powers of state agencies but with the entrepreneurial capability of the private sector. The bill will empower the authority to be involved in all matters relating to the shipping of freight in and out of Oregon focusing initially on revitalising and enhancing container shipping at Terminal 6 at the Port of Portland.

Similarly improvements will be made at the ports of Coos Bay and Astoria with the aim of creating deep-water ports with container terminals capable of handling the largest ocean-going container ships.

Additionally the OSA will develop a statewide freight transportation plan with the purpose of expanding existing facilities within, into and out of Oregon. All manner of activity supporting freight shipping, including business dealings and the power to support projects, regulations, and statutes favourable to freight transportation, be it by ship, truck or rail, will come under the authority’s remit.

The OSA aims also to provide and support training programmes necessary to ensure the availability of capable workers in all aspects of the shipping sector.

It is planned to have a board of nine members appointed by county commissioners from across Oregon, each with at least three years’ experience in the maritime or international trade industry.

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