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STATEMENT OF HON. BALTASAR CORRADA, RESIDENT COMMISSIONER FROM
PUERTO Rico Mr. Chairman, Members of the Subcommittee: My name is Baltasar Corrada, Resident Commissioner from Puerto Rico to the U.Š. Congress. I am pleased to appear before this Subcommittee to support H.R. 362.
The purposes of the bill is to amend the Ports and Waterways Safety Act of 1972 to provide for the award of grants to port authorities in the United States to enable such authorities to protect public ports and land areas adjacent to such ports from fires and other accidents or casualties occurring in such ports.
Based on the information provided to me by the Puerto Rico Ports Authority, I would like to provide you with the following comments, which I think would be helpful in understanding the importance for Puerto Rico in the approval of this bill.
The Port of San Juan, as well as many other ports of the United States lacks and is in urgent need of adequate facilities and equipment to meet emergencies and disasters which may be caused by ships using its piers. Providing equipment to prevent and/or fight different types of disasters which may occur not only at the Port of San Juan, but in other Island ports as well, is also a means to protect the trade activity that takes place between Puerto Rico and many of the Mainland ports. Thus, it is worthy to mention that over 90 percent of the external trade of Puerto Rico is conducted with United States ports. For 1975, the most recent available figures show total trade with the United States amounted to $8 billion evidencing the importance of Puerto Rico to the Mainland trade community as a primary market.
In a survey made not too long ago by the French "Journal de la Marine Marchande”, the Port of San Juan ranked sixth in number of total containers handled, among one hundred and eighty one world known ports, preceded only by such important ports as Rotterdam, New York, Oakland, Hong Kong, Long Beach, and Sidney. San Juan also ranked seventh in cargo tonnage handled in containers among the aforementioned number of ports and fourth among the ports in America.
Of 30 American ports, San Juan was second only to New York in total number of tourist ship visits and third in the number of tourists arriving by ship.
The Port of San Juan, along with other important ports of the Island, like Ponce, Mayaguez, Guayanilla, Las Marias, and Yabucoa (the latter three ports mainly refinery and petroleum ports) are used very intensively. The activities carried on at these ports are frequently hazardous. It must be emphasized that these ports do not have at present all the necessary means to combat or prevent damages caused by ship mishaps. Actually, the Port of San Juan is an almost completely landlocked bay, about 3 miles long and of an average width of one mile. During the past 15 years, with a rather not too wide entrance, close calls at San Juan have been innumerable and over 20 serious ship casualties have been experienced. The most notable accident, just at the entrance of the Port of San Juan, was that of the S/T Ocean Eagle in March 3, 1968, which spilled over 5 million barrels of oil inside the harbor and all along the North Coast where the tourist resorts are found. This accident alone caused tremendous concern to our people and millions of dollars in losses not only of a material nature, but environmental as well.
In the event of a ship fire or explosion at sea in the Caribbean the Port of San Juan could serve as a significant first aid station to crossing ships which might become endangered.
Recent statistics indicating port ship traffic at San Juan is as follows:
Cargo traffic (short tons)
1970. 1971 1972. 1973. 1974. 1975
4,730 5,089 5, 443 5,337 5, 266 4,376
8, 962, 004
5, 290, 135
Traffic for 1976 through the Port of San Juan increased by about 5 percent and for the current fiscal year the increase in dry cargo tonnage averages 18 percent over last year.
This bill has my support and I hope it will be enacted. I wish to thank you for giving me the opportunity of expressing my views and I ask that this statement be included as part of the record of these hearings.
THE PORT OF LONG BEACH,
Long Beach, Calif., July 5, 1977. Hon. M 2410 Rayburn House Office Building, Washington, D.C.
DEAR GLENN: We have reviewed the provisions of H.R. 362 as provided by your office amending the Ports and Waterways Safety Act of 1972 by providing funds to port authorities for fire protection and safety facilities.
The Port of Long Beach is in support of this measure and we are investigating the possibility of applying for grants to rebuild two fire stations and to install range markers for our back channels. Your future assistance in this regard would be appreciated should this measure be passed into law and appropriations provided for the purposes specified in the bill.
Thank you for soliciting our comments and if we may be of any assistance in helping to secure the passage of this necessary and worthwhile legislation, please let us know. Kindest regards,
JAMES H. McJUNKIN,
PORT OP LOS ANGELES,
CITY OF LOS ANGELES,
San Pedro, Calif., July 12, 1977. Hon. GLENN M. ANDERSON, 2410 Rayburn House Office Building, Washington, D.C.
DEAR CONGRESSMAN ANDERSON: I appreciate your giving me the opportunity to comment upon H.R. 362.
We recommend you support H.R. 362 since this bill would provide for the awarding of grants to enable port authorities to upgrade their facilities in order to protect the public ports from fires, explosions, natural disaster, etc. As you will recall
, the Los Angeles City Council established a Hazardous Cargo Handling Task Force after the Šansinena tanker explosion to investigate current practices and to make recommendations for improvements in the handling of hazardous cargoes. Although the Task Force report has been submitted to the City Council, it has not been acted upon and is therefore still considered a "preliminary'' report. However, requests for copies of the report have been received from other ports since this is the first known procedure manual that has been developed for this purpose.
One of the recommendations contained within the report is for the Los Angeles City Electrical Code to be revised and applied retroactively to those port areas handling flammable liquids or gases. A preliminary estimate of $1,776,900 has been made. Of this amount, $1,376,000 would be the responsibility of the Harbor Department.
The bill would, if approved, provide a potential source of funds to enable the department to upgrade the electrical service in the port. No other source of funds is known to us except from the Port's revenues. If you need further information, please let us know. Sincerely,
F. B. CRAWFORD,
THE PORT AUTHORITY OF NY & NJ,
New York, N.Y., July 18, 1977. Hon. MARIO BIAGGI, Chairman, Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Navigation, Committee on Merchant
Marine & Fisheries, U.S. House of Representatives, Longworth House Office
Building, Washington, D.C. DEAR CHAIRMAN Biaggi: In your letter of June 30, you invited comment from The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey on H.R. 362 which would amend the Ports and Waterways Safety Act of 1972 by adding a Title III—Port Safety Grants and Study. We believe that this legislation would be beneficial to not only the Port of New York, but to most U.S. seaports, and appreciate the opportunity to provide comments on it.
As you know, the Port of New York is unique in that it consists not just of a wide mixture of private and public waterfront and harbor activities, but that these are located in two States, 17 counties and 234 municipalities. Thus, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, unlike most port authorities, does not administer the total operations of the port or have any portwide operational and regulatory powers over the port, as specified in Sections 301 and 304 of the Bill. In fact, the City of New York is a major operator of port facilities, including a large portion of the Brooklyn waterfront, and is, in addition, the owner of the Manhattan piers.
With respect to marine fire fighting, the City of New York and the City of Newark have fireboats. The City of New York, as we have observed it, regularly responds to fires at piers on the New Jersey side of the harbor. It is our understanding that the Newark and Elizabeth municipal fire departments do have specially trained forces to fight waterfront fires from the shore side. The Port Authority's fire protection responsibilities are limited geographically to its own marine terminal facilities.
In your letter, you requested our views on whether the costs of firefighting could in part be passed through to shippers and carriers in some form of port user charge. We would strongly oppose such a provision because we feel quite certain that it would work to the competitive disadvantage of the Port of New York-New Jersey.
The study called for in Section 302 has considerable merit. Among the points that could be studied might be:
1. The ability of marginal wharves to be protected by land access rather than marine equipment, except for offshore sides of moored vessels.
2. The fact that the majority of serious waterfront fires occur on obsolete, old and abandoned private pier structures. The Corps of Engineers' “New York Harbor Collection and Removal of Drift Project," of which you are well informed, will have an important positive impact on future fire protection needs, as those old structures are removed from the port.
3. The substitution of Coast Guard fire protection capabilities at Federal anchorages, which are administerd and regulated by the Coast Guard.
The proposed legislation would appear to rule out eligibility of other than State-level agencies or port authorities with portwide administrative or operational responsibilities. In light of the situation described above that prevails in this bi-State port, we would hope that the eligibility provision for Federal grants could be broadened and modified so that the municipalities and other local agencies which are performing these services could have adequate financial relief.
We favor the purpose of your proposed legislation. Modifications such as those suggested would be most helpful to the City of New York particularly which, despite its beleaguered finances, continues to perform the lion's share of marine firefighting in the Port of New York with reportedly little or no contribution for services rendered beyond City boundaries.
I appreciate your thoughtfulness in requesting our comments. If we can offer any further assistance, please let me know, Sincerely,
" EDWARD S. OLCOTT, Director of Planning and Development.
PORT OF NEW ORLEANS,
New Orleans, La., July 12, 1977. Hon. JOAN MURPHY, U.S. Representative, Chairman of Committee on Merchant Marine and Fisheries,
Rayburn House Office Building, Washington, D.C. DEAR MR. MURPHY: As Chairman of the American Association of Port Authorities Committee V on Port Operations, I would like to add our strong support to Bill H.R. 362 introduced by Congressmen Eilberg and Biaggi.
Many Port Authorities provide the firefighting equipment but do not have the necessary funds to replace this equipment. Among the major ports with fireboats are the Ports of Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Norfolk, Tampa, Mobile, New Orleans, Houston, Seattle, Portland, San Francisco and Chicago. Many of the fireboats in use today are in need of major overhaul or replacement. The assistance provided in Section 301 2 (b) is urgently needed.
The ever increasing size of vessels dramatically increased the potential of a major disaster in case of fire. The danger not only increases with the size of the vessel but with the proliferation of highly toxic and dangerous chemical cargoes entering the trade. For this reason, not only must the present firefighting equipment and personnel be maintained but such capabilities must be increased. Again, I would like to assure you of our Association's strong support. Sincerely,
EDWARD S. REED,
STATEMENT BY VIRGINIA GALLAGHER. CHAIRMAN OF COMMUNITY BOARD No. 10,
BRONX Congressmen Biaggi and Patterson, we thank you for the opportunity to speak in favor of H.R. 362.
Planning Board No. 10 Bronx has the largest waterfront in the City of New York. We know there is no protection should a fire occur on the waterfront. The response time of the nearest fireboat is 142 hours away. Fire does not wait.
Within our Board we have some of the finest water-related business in the City of New York as well as some of the nicest residential property. Should a fire or explosion occur, these properties are denied protection because it is virtually impossible to get land equipment close enough to extinguish fire. Some of the water-related business deals with the servicing of yachts. These yachts are left defenseless when a fire occurs and usually burn to the water line. After all, how can a fire engine get out on the water?
We, therefore, support H.R. 362 and recommend that federal grants be given to port authorities to purchase fireboat and related equipment in order to combat fires on piers, waterfront and on the water. In turn, by supplying protection to our miles of waterfront, we will be reassuring New York City businessmen and residents and also enticing other business and re lents to settle e.
Mr. Biaggi. One of the benefits of this hearing this morning iswell, in my judgment, has been the suggestions made by yourself, by the deputy mayor, by Commissioner O’Hagen and I think even the admiral touched on it, or at least Mr. Barry touched on it-and that was changing the legislation so that existing fire departments or agencies, who are currently charged with these responsibilities, that they will be eligible and it not be restricted to the port authority.
Now, let me suggest that your position reinforces the original contention by the mayor and others.
Mr. CRETAN. That is correct.
Mr. Biaggi. And we are confident that that language will be changed in order to accommodate that. And that is one of the reasons for our hearings. Legislation is always introduced conceptually. Rarely is
it in the same shape when we vote on it finally. But I would like to congratulate you and your organization for the work that oftentimes I think must be frustrating, but hopefully our attention and the activity of this committee will alleviate some of your concerns.
We intend to address ourselves very intensively to ports and ports' problems, and all of those areas that come within the jurisdiction of the Coast Guard-notwithstanding traditional concepts. Notwithstanding traditional concepts, its enlargement is necessary. Well, then, that will be our thrust.
But one of the statements I made was that there should be a complete and comprehensive cooperation by all segments of the industry; working together closely with the Coast Guard. And no Federal agency can function properly unless it has the real support and understanding of all the interested parties.
Mr. ČRETAN. Unfortunately, we are a little lacking in cooperative planning in New York. Although our association, Mr. Chairman, functions on a bi-State basis we have not had time to secure comments from the terminal operators in New Jersey. They will be advised and you should be hearing from them also.
Mr. Biaggi. Well, I'm glad you recognize that. Simple logic tells us that the more troops you have, the more effective you will be.
Mr. CRETAN. Yes.
Now, we have a panel of witnesses from City Island next, which is unto itself a nation.
We have Mr. Finlay Corsar, commodore, City Island Yacht Club; Capt. James Thombs, Ms. Virginia Gallagher, Mr. Andre Galerne, IUC Corp.
Gentlemen, we welcome you. Is Ms. Gallagher here?
STATEMENTS OF CITY ISLAND, BRONX PANEL, CONSISTING OF
FINDLAY CORSAR, COMMODORE, CITY ISLAND YACHT CLUB;
I understand Ms. Virginia Gallagher was here but she left. So why do we not take you in order with Commodore Corsar going first representing City Island Yacht Club.
Mr. CORSAR. The City Island Yacht Club and the City Island waterfront, as most of the people in this hearing know, they are primarily made up of wooden docks and wooden piers. The boats around there are, in many cases, gasoline driven boats. They represent in many cases very disastrous fires which can spread on to those docks. And, in turn, since City Island is almost all frame houses, you could have a major disaster, an unbelievable disaster, if the wind was in the right direction and the right conditions existed.
There is no doubt about it, that the fiscal crisis of New York and the reduction of the fireboats, and the fact that it takes 2 to 272 hours