Port of Long Beach

Port of Long Beach

The Port of Long Beach, also known as Long Beach’s Harbor Department, is the 2nd busiest seaport in the United States. Acting as a major gateway for U.S.-Asian trade, the port occupies 3,200 acres of land with 25 miles of waterfront in the city of Long Beach, California. The Port of Long Beach is located less than two miles southeast of Downtown Long Beach and approximately 25 miles south of the city of Los Angeles. The seaport boasts approximately $100 billion dollar in trade and provides more than 316,000 jobs in Southern California. Awarded with the Environmental Management Award in 2007, the Port of Long Beach strives to reduce pollution through many environmental programs.

Early History (1911-1960s)

The Port of Long Beach was founded on 800 acres of mudflats on June 24, 1911 at the mouth of the Los Angeles River. In 1917, the first Board of Harbor Commissioners formed to supervise harbor operations. Due to the booming economy, Long Beach voters approved a $5 million bond to improve the inner and outer harbor. By the late 1920s, more than one million tons of cargo were handled along with construction of additional piers to accommodate the growing business.

Much of the revenue seen at the Long Beach harbor was mostly shipping-based. However, in 1936, oil was discovered in the harbor and within two years, an oil well was installed providing oil revenues to the City and Port of Long Beach. Subsidence soon became a concern due to the extraction of oil. Responding quickly, engineers and geologists were assigned to study the problem and dikes were built for flood control at high tide.

In 1946, after World War II, the Port of Long Beach was established as “America’s most modern port” with the completion of the first of nine clear-span transit sheds.

Concern of subsidence increase until Operation “Big Squirt,” a water injection program, halted any progression of sinking land in 1960.

Recent History (1970s-Present)

The rapid expansion of the port in the 1900s raised concerns of pollution. The Port of Long Beach tackled the problem through programs that prevented and controlled oil spills, contained debris and effectively managing vessel traffic. Due to its efforts, the port was awarded the American Association of Port Authorities Environmental "E" Award. Long Beach is the first harbor in the Western Hemisphere to receive such an award.

In 1980, the United States normalized relations with China and, in effect, the Port sent officials to the People’s Republic of China for the first time. Less than a year later, the China Ocean Shipping Co. inaugurated international shipping and chose Long Beach Port its first U.S. port of call. International relations with other countries also formed with South Korea as the [http://www.polb.com/economics/cargotenant/containerized/hanjin.asp Hanjin Shipping Co.] opens a 57-acre container terminal on Pier C in 1991. Along with Hanjin, COSCO, a Chinese international shipping carrier, secured business with the Port of Long Beach in 1997.

The traffic at the port continued to grow as more tenants leased terminals from the Port of Long Beach. In 1997, approximately one million containers were inbound to the Port. By 2005, it had tripled to nearly 3.3 million containers. The total amount of containers had also increased from three million containers in 1997 to nearly 6.7 million containers.

The surge in vessel traffic and cargo had increased efforts by the port to preserve the environment. In 2004, the Port of Long Beach reached compliance with air pollution mandate by introducing new steps for handling petroleum coke, used as a fuel source and is one of the port’s biggest exports. By using enclosed conveyors and covered storage areas, the Port managed to reduce the amount of dust caused by the petroleum coke by 5 percent – down 21 percent in 1997.

Along with improving and streamlining operations, the Port of Long Beach has also passed various initiatives and plans that have won recognition from around the world. In 2005, the port adopted the [http://www.polb.com/environment/green_port_policy/default.asp Green Port Policy] which protects the community from harmful environmental impacts of Port operations, improving air and water quality as well as cleaning soil and undersea sediments.

In 2007, the seaport launched the first stage of its [http://www.polb.com/environment/air_quality/caap.asp Clean Air Action Plan] by approving a [http://www.polb.com/environment/cleantrucks/default.asp Clean Trucks Program] that bans old, diesel trucks from serving the Port.

On October 1, the Clean Trucks Program was launched by the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles. The goal of the program is to reduce air pollution from the truck fleet by 80 percent by 2012. Trucks built 1988 or earlier that do not meet the federal EPA’s 2007 clean trucks standards will not be allowed to access port terminals. In addition to complying with the truck ban October 1, all trucking companies doing business with the Port must have a Port-approved concession. The concession agreements cover the rules that trucking companies must follow if they wish to do business with the Port. As of Monday, September 23, nearly 500 companies had applied for concessions, representing more than 6,000 trucks.


The Port of Long Beach import and export more than $100 billion worth of goods every year. The seaport provides the country with jobs, generate tax revenue, and supporting retail and manufacturing businesses.

In the City of Long Beach, the port supports more than 30,000 jobs; that is about one out of every eight jobs in the city. More than $800 million a year is spent on wholesale distribution services in the city.

In the City of Los Angeles, port operations generate more than 230,000 jobs and more than $10 billion a year goes to distribution services in the city.

Overall, in California, the Port of Long Beach provides about 370,000 jobs and generates about $5.6 billion a year in state and local tax revenues.


Green Port Policy

The internationally-recognized [http://www.polb.com/environment/green_port_policy/default.asp Green Port Policy] was adopted by the Port of Long Beach in 2005 in an effort to reduce pollution in the ever-growing region of Los Angeles/Long Beach. The Green Port Policy sets a framework for: enhancing wildlife habitat, improving air and water quality, cleaning soil and undersea sediments and creating a sustainable port culture. The four guiding principles of the Green Port Policy are to: Protect the community from the harmful environmental impacts of Port operations, distinguish the Port as a leader in environmental stewardship and compliance, promote sustainability, employ the best available technology to avoid or reduce environmental impacts, and engage and educate the community.

Clean Air Action Plan

In 2007, the Port of Long Beach continued its environmental efforts by implementing the [http://cleanairactionplan.org/ Clean Air Action Plan] . The Plan is an air quality program adopted by the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles. In recognition, the Clean Air Action Plan was given the most prestigious award from the American Association of Port Authorities, the Environmental Management Award, in 2007.

The Clean Air Action Plan also included the use of trucks that were deemed excessively pollutant. The Port’s Harbor Commission approved a [http://www.polb.com/environment/cleantrucks/default.asp Clean Trucks Program] that will ban old, diesel trucks by October 2008. The landmark Clean Trucks Program will dramatically modernize the port trucking industry and slash truck-related air pollution by 80 percent by 2012. The Clean Trucks Program is outlined in the San Pedro Bay Ports Clean Air Action Plan. Diesel-powered harbor short-haul (drayage) trucks are a major source of air pollution.

The Clean Trucks Program calls for drayage truck owners to scrap and replace old, polluting trucks working at the Port, with the assistance of a port-sponsored grant or loan subsidy. The Port of Long Beach program includes truck concession requirements to identify "clean" trucks, ensure reliable short-haul service, and improve air quality, security and safety. Trucks that meet the federal 2007 emission standard produce 80 percent less air pollution than older trucks. Most of these older, polluting trucks would remain on the public roadways for many years, even decades. Therefore the Port is offering generous financial incentives to encourage truck owners to scrap and replace the older trucks. The Port will provide one-time financial assistance to accelerate the transition to clean trucks, offering optional financing plans.

Green Flag incentive program

While clean trucks were a focus, the Port of Long Beach also turned its attention to ships. The [http://www.polb.com/environment/air_quality/vessels/green_flag.asp Green Flag incentive program] was set up to encourage ships to slow down in order to improve air quality. The Green Flag program provides approximately $2 million a year in discounts for vessel operators who slow their ships to 12 knots or less within 20 miles of the harbor. According to the Port, the Green Flag program reduced air pollution by 600 tons in 2007 and is expected to do better in 2008.

Contributions to protecting wildlife habitats

The Port of Long Beach also recognizes the impacts pollution can have on natural habitats. The Port has donated millions of dollars to select Southern California wetlands projects with the most recent donation of more than $50 million to the Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve in Huntington Beach, California. [ [http://www.polb.com/news/displaynews.asp?NewsID=250&targetid=15] ]

Recently, Port of Long Beach officials began reviewing the possibility of playing a key role in a proposed project to restore and revitalize the [http://www.polb.com/environment/wildlife/default.asp Los Cerritos Wetlands] .


Harbor Commission

The Port of Long Beach is governed by the City of Long Beach. The City Charter created the Long Beach Harbor Department to promote and develop the Port.

Under the Charter, the five-member [http://www.polb.com/commission/default.asp Board of Harbor Commissioners] is responsible for setting policy for the Port and managing the Harbor Department.

The [http://www.polb.com/commission/commissioners.asp Harbor Commissioners] set policies for the Port of Long Beach. Commissioners are appointed by the Mayor of Long Beach and are confirmed by the City Council. They may serve no more than two six-year terms. In July, the commissioners rotate the offices of president and vice president. These offices are held for one year.


The current Board of Commissioners has only four members. The fifth commission position is still vacant.

Commission President: James C. Hankla

Commission Vice President: Nick Sramek

Commission Secretary: Dr. Mike Walter

Commission Assistant Secretary: Mario Cordero

Community Relations

The Long Beach Port has created and promoted a bond with its community through events, neighborhood projects, and public engagements.

Green Port Fest

Started in 2005, the annual [http://www.polb.com/community/portfest.asp Green Port Fest] allowed the public to see port operations firsthand and learn more about the Port’s environmental and security programs. The Fest offers visitors the chance to take boat tours for behind-the-scenes looks and interactive exhibits as well as many attractions for kids and their families. Over 10,000 visitors attended the event in 2008. [cite news | last =Puente | first =Kelly | title =Port fest draws thousands | work =Long Beach Press-Telegram | pages = | language = | publisher = | date =October 4, 2008 | url =http://www.presstelegram.com/search/ci_10641395?IADID=Search-www.presstelegram.com-www.presstelegram.com | accessdate = ]

Free boat tours

To educate the public, the Port of Long Beach also hosts free [http://www.polb.com/community/tours/default.asp boat tours] during the summer. The tours are free to anyone and offer visitors an exclusive, 90-minute narrated cruise of the Port. All tours are posted two months in advance and are generally booked within days.

Let's Talk Port

The Port of Long Beach continues its outreach to the public by hosting various “Let’s Talk Port” forums where members of the community can learn more about the Port and ask any questions related to the seaport. The forums were held at various neighborhoods in the City of Long Beach.


Graduating Long Beach High School seniors are eligible for scholarships towards higher education that range from $1,000 to $8,000. The scholarships are awarded to graduating students who plan to pursue careers in international trade or other port-related industries.

Scholarships are also awarded to international business students who attend Long Beach City College and California State University, Long Beach.


Command and Control Center

The Port is developing a $21-million, “green” [http://www.polb.com/about/security/center.asp command center] scheduled to be completed in the fall of 2008. The Command and Control Center conforms to the Port’s Green Port Policy of being energy efficient, incorporating environment-friendly designs, and using sustainable construction practices.

Harbor Patrol

The Long Beach Harbor Patrol is a group of trained and armed public officers dedicated to security and public safety at the Port of Long Beach. Harbor Patrol officers monitor Port facilities and public roads, respond to dispatches and have authority to access all marine terminals and cargo at the Port.

In addition, Harbor Patrol operates round-the-clock camera surveillance, mobile underwater sonar, dive team, explosive detectors and other technology to maintain vigilant protection of Port facilities and operations.

ee also

*Port of Los Angeles
*Terminal Island


External links

* [http://www.bts.gov/publications/americas_freight_transportation_gateways/highlights_of_top_25_freight_gateways_by_shipment_value/port_of_long_beach/ Department of Transportation Page about Port of Long Beach] (public domain source)
* [http://www.theimpactproject.org/ The Impact Project] (working to reduce port-related pollution)
* [http://www.polb.com/html/1_about/overview.html Port of Long Beach overview page]

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.