Ports Can and Do Adapt to Rising Sea

(p. B5) When the Port of Virginia began a sweeping renovation of its major Norfolk International Terminals, some easy-to-miss line items on the $375 million agenda included boosting the site’s electric power stations several feet off the ground and adding data servers as far back from the water as possible.
The actions at the fifth-largest container gateway in the U.S. are among the small steps seaports are starting to undertake as more reports project rising ocean levels in the coming years and cargo terminals consider the impact of higher waters and increasingly forceful storm surges.
. . .
Most major ports have infrastructure plans that don’t extend as far into the future as the forecasts for climate change, said Walter Kemmsies, an economist specializing in ports and infrastructure at real-estate firm Jones Lang LaSalle Inc.
. . .
Ports whose berths are at least 14 feet above sea level at high tide should be safe from flooding for the near future, Mr. Kemmsies said. “As long as the probability is really low and it wouldn’t matter if you raised everything by a foot or two, you leave it alone until the cost-benefit ratio might be higher,” he said.
That is the case at the Port of Houston, where officials said container docks stand 18 feet above the water.
Houston is the largest U.S. hub for energy exports and a rapidly growing container port. It also has withstood some of the worst storms to hit the U.S. in recent years, including Hurricane Ike in 2008 and Hurricane Harvey in 2017.

For the full story, see:
Erica E. Phillips. “Seaports Add Protections as Ocean Levels Rise.” The Wall Street Journal (Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2019): B5.
(Note: ellipses added.)
(Note: the online version has the date Feb. 11, 2019, and has the title “At the Water’s Edge, Seaports Are Slowly Bracing for Rising Ocean Levels.”)

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