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1 1.1 Project Background and Purpose The research reported in this document addresses the issue of how seaports respond to, and recover from, major disruptions to the movement of cargo through their facilities. As key nodes in the nationâs freight supply chains and the points at which most of the nationâs imports enter and exports leave the nationâs shores, seaports represent an essential resource in the cost-effective operation of the U.S. economy. Recent highly disruptive natural events such as Hurricanes Irene and Katrina, and Superstorm Sandy, have shown the costs to society of extreme coastal weather events. And due to their coastal locations, seaports are often among the most severely impacted of built infrastructures. The specific objective of this research project is to develop a set of high-level guidelines, informed by expert opinions and illustrated by example case studies. These guidelines are intended to help the seaport authorities and regional transportation agencies in which such ports are located minimize the extent and duration of lost cargo throughput resulting from such disruptions. Whether a natural or manmade event (such as a terrorist attack or labor strike), the goal is to bring the seaportâs freight movement system back to its prior operating level before costly and protracted delays can occurâwhether stressed because of damage to cargo handling and ware- housing facilities within the port; to the highway, rail, waterway, and pipeline routes leading into and out of the port; or because of the need to handle additional cargo volumes due to port disruptions or surges in cargo demands elsewhere. The term used in this report for such efforts is port resilienceâthe ability of a seaport to withstand and bounce back quickly from a serious threat to its ability to process freight in an efficient and cost-effective manner. This report offers insights from a wide range of experts on how public and private agencies can help seaports recover quickly from a sudden partial or complete loss of cargo handling capacity in the future. Recent studies have shown that delays in the recovery of port operations can have significant economic, as well as social costs, and can upset arrangements to move freight at distances far removed from the impacted port, on both the landside and waterside of the inter- rupted product supply chains. This report recognizes these broader supply chain impacts of port closures, as well as the highly concentrated nature of much of the freight moving into and out of the United States through a relatively small number of large port complexes. In particular, this research seeks to codify and turn into useful action items many of the lessons learned from a series of damaging coastal weather events, and from the greater attention now being given to possible terrorist actions since the events of 11 September 2001. Two key challenges to doing so are (1) the considerable complexity and large number of independently motivated actors, or agents, involved in moving much of the freight through the nationâs ports; and (2) the considerable variety of ways in which U.S. ports are organized in terms of ownership, organizational oversight, and physical and legal responsibilities for goods moved. C H A P T E R 1 Introduction
2 Making U.S. Ports Resilient as Part of Extended Intermodal Supply Chains This said, significant commonalities across port operations suggest that lessons learned from each disruptive event provide value to other ports that may face future disruptions to services. The value of such lessons is reflected in the constant updates to port emergency preparations and recovery plans, as port authorities aim to decrease recovery time from disruptive events. This report demonstrates that considerable ingenuity has been used in finding timely solutions to recent disruptions in seaport operations. The report also identifies areas that require additional consideration, analysis, and action as U.S. ports prepare for a future in which the movement of traded goods will have an increasingly important role in regional and national economies. 1.2 Report Organization This report describes the methods used, information gained, and findings obtained from the following: â¢ Chapter 2, Literature ReviewâA review of the recent seaport disruption and resiliency literature. â¢ Chapter 3, Interviews with Supply Chain ExpertsâA summary of findings from a series of teleconference-based interviews with experts from around the United States who have had experience in responding to, and recovering from, supply chain disruptions to seaports. â¢ Chapter 4, Case Study: Response to and Recovery from Superstorm SandyâA summary and set of lessons learned from on-site and telephone interviews with experts at different stages of the freight supply chain who were involved in responding to the major East Coast ports disrup- tions resulting from the November 2012 extreme weather event known as Superstorm Sandy. â¢ Chapter 5, Case Study: Columbia River ClosureâA summary and set of lessons learned from on-site and telephone interviews with supply chain experts faced with the port disrup- tions resulting from extended closure of locks along the Columbia River System in the Pacific Northwest. â¢ Chapter 6, Synthesis of FindingsâA summary of major issues raised, solutions proposed and implemented, and lessons learned from the materials summarized in Chapters 2 through 5, leading to a set of high-level rules of thumb that public agency responders might consider when preparing for, as well as responding to and recovering from, future cargo-impacting disruptions involving U.S. seaports. After completing an initial literature review in early 2013, the subsequent three rounds of expert interviews were used not only to add much needed insight into actual practice, but also to update the literature review on the basis of additional issues and materials identified.