Port of Long Beach warns of blackout dangers

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Thursday, March 1, 2001 Port warns of blackout dangers By Keith Higginbotham Staff writer LONG BEACH The chief executive of the Port of Long Beach made a plea to the Public Utilities Commission on Tuesday night asking that the port be excluded from rolling blackouts. Port Executive Director Richard Steinke warned of possible public health and safety dangers and a national defense threat in making his request before a PUC judge at a public meeting in Santa Ana.

"Blackouts could have dire, even dangerous effects on our port complex," Steinke told the commission. He pointed to the possible threat to marine traffic that the loss of power to port navigation lights, radars and radios could cause.

Other potential dangers include the possible loss of power to the port's 50 200-foot-tall gantry cranes. A blackout could strand crane operators and leave cargo containers dangling hundreds of feet in the air. If a blackout occurred, the crane booms, which extend over the container ships, could not be retracted and vessels could be trapped at the dock.

Rescue efforts citywide could be impaired during a port blackout because the port's administration building also houses the Long Beach Fire Department headquarters. There are also three fire stations located on port property.

Steinke warned the commission that port blackouts could pose a national security threat because the U.S. Navy fueling depot could be shut down. The port is also home to some vessels in the Ready Reserve fleet, which allows the U.S. military to mobilize.

As a first step in obtaining an exemption, the port in December requested a similar exemption from Southern California Edison. The utility company deferred to the PUC, which regulates privately owned utilities in the state.

It is unlikely that the port will get an exemption: A PUC spokesman said that no California business has been granted one since the most recent power crisis intensified several months ago.

The port's request will be considered by an administrative judge, who could make a ruling or refer the matter to the full commission.


-- Martin Thompson (mthom1927@aol.com), March 01, 2001


It would be smart if they could arrange for an orderly shutdown.

But that would require fore thought.

-- (perry@ofuzzy1.com), March 02, 2001.

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