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Hurricane Sandy was wake up call for ports say corrosion experts

That sobering truth has resonated with the American Association of Port Authorities, which has been calling for more investment recently.
By Patrick Burnson, Executive Editor
November 29, 2012

As winter approaches, the nation’s supply chain infrastructure will continue to become damaged from seasonal elements such as freezing rain, sleet and snow.

That sobering truth has resonated with the American Association of Port Authorities, which has been calling for more investment recently. And for Rick Grant, a principal owner of Russell Corrosion Consultants (RCC), now is the time to increase spending – particularly on ports.

“These represent the most exposed assets in our transportation network,” he said. “The marine elements can degrade not piers, but whole seawalls that are crucial to a port’s sustainable operations.”

The Columbia, Maryland-based company has been consulting with the Port of NY/NJ for more than a decade, added Grant.

“Super storm Sandy was an equal opportunity destroyer when it came to the devastating impacts on the East Coast’s infrastructure,” he said.

As many in the nation quickly witnessed, New York City’s transit system flooded as never witnessed before. That was only one example of the storms crippling effects on the infrastructure. Why was it so bad?

One main reason is the corrosive effects of saltwater on metal (train tracks and surrounding support structures). High chloride content is a key factor for accelerating corrosion and is effects on metallic infrastructure.

However this wasnt limited to just transit systems.

Much of the coast’s water supply systems, pumping stations, sewer pipelines, natural gas lines, power stations, marine support piles, bridge supports, and anything metallic had been compromised due to the super storm.

“States, agencies, utilities, and the federal government now have the expensive, time consuming and unenviable task of inspecting this affected infrastructure that millions of people have taken for granted in there everyday lives to ensure its proper working order,” said Grant.

But the good news, he said, is that business has never been better.

“Ports and other government entities are among our best customers,” he said. “We have been making record profits over the past three years, while many other businesses have been struggling to recover from the recession.”

Further evidence of that came when RCC) announced the acquisition of Blackstone Group LTD, a premiere corrosion engineering firm, headquartered in San Francisco, CA. last month.

“San Francisco, is another very old city in need of major repair,” said Grant.

About the Author

Patrick Burnson
Executive Editor

Patrick Burnson is executive editor for Logistics Management and Supply Chain Management Review magazines and web sites. Patrick is a widely-published writer and editor who has spent most of his career covering international trade, global logistics, and supply chain management. He lives and works in San Francisco, providing readers with a Pacific Rim perspective on industry trends and forecasts. You can reach him directly at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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