For weeks now, bloggers have been saying that Gambol Industries Inc. needed a “miracle” to build the shipyard it wants in the Port of Los Angeles.

Company officials believe that the miracle may just have arrived.

At issue is an estimated 485,000 cubic yards of sludge expected to be dredged up during the port’s imminent Main Channel Deepening Project.

Original plans called for the material to be deposited in two slips alongside the former site of the long-abandoned Southwest Marine shipyard on Terminal Island.

Gambol, which owns a small boatyard in Long Beach, wants to use the site and its slips as a newly constituted Gambol Marine Center shipyard.

In summer 2009, the company signed a memo of understanding with the port, giving each side until this July to agree on a plan. But the two have been at loggerheads over what do with the sludge.

Now the Port of Long Beach has serendipitously come up with a potential solution. It issued a public call in late May for 2.5 million cubic yards of dredged sediments – easily enough to handle L.A.’s channel deepening waste– to be used as landfill for its Middle Harbor Redevelopment Project. The project involves the reclamation of 65 acres of land for a new marine container terminal.

“This is the miracle we were looking for,” enthused Gambol spokesman Rod Wilson. “We hope the (L.A.) port is moving swiftly to take advantage of this solution.”

Spokesmen from the two ports confirmed they have had preliminary talks regarding the landfill bids, which must be submitted by July 1. Yet several issues remain outstanding.

The top issue is scheduling. While the L.A. port wants to start dredging soon, the Long Beach port could still be a year away from accepting the sludge.

“If the Port of Los Angeles can fit into our time frame we would certainly entertain that,” said Rick Cameron, director of environmental planning for the Port of Long Beach.

Long Beach port officials also are in talks with the cities of Long Beach and Newport Beach as well as Los Angeles County over possible other sources of sludge, Cameron said.

Port of Los Angeles spokesman Phillip Sanfield said it’s still too early to predict an outcome.

“We are looking into the Long Beach sludge opportunity, but at this point we don’t know enough about the project,” he said. “Our priority remains the same: finishing the final phase of the Main Channel Deepening Project without any delays.”

Sanfield said the port, which has questioned the need for a new shipyard in San Pedro, also is waiting for Gambol to submit more documents about its business plan.

More Sludge

In an ironic twist, the Port of Long Beach’s has its own channel widening project, which won’t be contributing any sludge at all to middle harbor redevelopment.

Instead, the estimated 1.5 million cubic yards of material slated for removal from the channel will be used for another purpose: filling in a slip alongside Pier G to expand and modernize another international shipping terminal. The terminal is occupied by Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha Ltd., a Japanese shipping firm operating 26 liner routes worldwide.

The channel to be deepened includes an oil berth used by BP. The $40 million project, which was kicked off last week, will increase the channel’s depth from about 65 feet to a uniform 76 feet, allowing large oil tankers to approach berths fully loaded.

“It’s important to make sure all our shipping lines are safe for navigation,” said port spokesman John Pope. “Because of the sediment buildup, the largest tankers have had to unload partly outside the port. This will increase efficiency and safety.”

The project was kicked off June 8 with a 20-minute tour of the harbor attended by Long Beach Mayor Bob Foster as well as various city, state and port officials.

Another Kickoff

Foster also attended the recent launch of Frontier Airlines’ inaugural service between Denver and Long Beach.

Taking over slots previously occupied by Alaska Airlines, Frontier operates two daily flights – at 6:45 and 11 a.m. – between Long Beach Airport and the Colorado city, bringing the airport’s total number of daily commercial flights to 39.

With the planned addition of Allegiant Air’s nonstop daily service to Bellingham, Wash., and Stockton on July 1, the airport will be offering its full contingent of commercial flights allowable under a strict city noise ordinance.

The airport also offers nonstop flights to 14 other cities including San Francisco; Las Vegas; New York; Washington, D.C.; and Boston.

Staff reporter David Haldane can be reached at dhaldane@labusinessjournal.com or at 323-549-5225, ext. 225.

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