tic materials are a growing problem. Turtles often swallow plastics bags mistaking them for jellyfish, while packaging material which looks like shrimp or fish to other sea animals, invariably means death either through a blocked digestive tract or its toxic by-products. GreenSeas Trust, Registered Charity No 1098649, is trying to halt the decline of the marine environment in the Caribbean with a ‘Litter Kills Marine Life,’ campaign. A pilot program was in Tobago was implemented in 2003. Trustee for the charity, Fazilette Khan, had no prior experience in running a charity, but her background in the merchant navy coupled with her passion for the sea itself provided her with the motivation needed. “It was a sharp, steep learning curve, right from the start,” she explained. Within six weeks however, the Trust implemented its “Bin on the Beaches” project and placed garbage bins along six of the most frequented beaches. Modified oil drums were used for the purpose. “Figuring out where and how to cut, store, and transport them was a problem bearing in
Coral grows at a rate of just 1 cm-10 cm a year. Reefs are ecosystems that thrive in warm, clean, nutrient deficient water that have a stable ratio of sunlight and salinity. When these conditions are varied, algae blooms, depriving the coral polyps of sunlight. A high abundance of algae consumes oxygen in the water and affects the feeding habits of shellfish and other organisms that filter water to obtain their food. Ciguatera, a harmful algae species has been linked to 20000-30000 cases that occur each year in the north-eastern Caribbean region of Puerto Rico and the US Virgin islands. This form of human poisoning is caused by the consumption of subtropical and tropical marine fin-fish like grouper, barracuda, and snapper that have accumulated naturally occurring toxins through their diet. It can cause gastrointestinal inflammation, neurological and cardiovascular disorders. Substances floating on the surface are no less detrimental to the marine environment. Plastics account for being 90% of the floating litter found at sea. Entanglement of sea creatures in plas-
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ds t n o e In the European shortsea trades, the 45 ft container is operated by a number of lines including Geest, Containerships and Norfolkline. The ability to stack is essential.
A Box for Europe In 2003, the European Commission proposed a draft directive on Intermodal Loading Units (ILU) with the stated aim of facilitating the transfer of freight from one mode of transport to another. It revealed that it aimed to introduce new maintenance, handling and security standards for such units, as well as a new European standard, the European Intermodal Loading Unit (EILU).
This news came as quite a surprise to the European transportation industry even though, when asked, most will concede that there are simply far too many shapes and sizes of ‘intermodal’ equipment out in the marketplace at present, some of which is ill-suited to intermodal handling. The debate about the EILU continues in the corridors of Brussels and most intermodal transport operators hope that the subject will be quietly forgotten, leaving commercial realities to dictate equipment sizes. One of the biggest problems in establishing a standard specification is that different transport operators and different transport flows have different requirements and most would say ‘vive la difference’.
construction and not usually capable of being top-lifted or stacked when loaded. Swapbodies come in a variety of sizes: 13.6 m is the standard length for transport on semi-trailers but shorter units, typically 7.15 m, 7.45 m and 7.82 m, are used in tandem on road trains. While some are capable of top lifting, many are not and require the lifting unit, be it an FLT, a reachstacker or a gantry crane, to be fitted with arms that can swing down to lock into bottom-lift pockets. While such units make commercial sense for the transport operator, for intermodal terminal operators, these bottom-lift only units can be a real nuisance. They cannot be stacked and even when grounded, need space to be left at the sides so that the bottom-lift pockets can be accessed by the lifting equipment. Consequently they occupy much more space in the terminal than containers. Furthermore, the bottom-lift operation is more time consuming and some terminal operators wish the market would allow them to charge those who use such equipment a higher rate than is applicable to containers.
Shortsea shipping operators in Europe have adopted the 45 ft (13.7 m) long , 2.5 m wide container as their standard box because it offers a pallet capacity similar to a 13.6 m trailer, the longest semi-trailer length permitted to operate throughout the EU. The 8 ft (2.4 m) wide container width, which is universally used in the deepsea trades, does not allow the same pallet loading capability and so a 45 ft long, 8 ft wide container would be at a competitive disadvantage with trailers, say the European intermodalists. The Commission is also proposing a maximum height for the EILU of 2670 mm. This would allow these units to access pretty well most of the existing European rail network and avoid the need for gooseneck trailers, necessary in some European countries when trucking higher containers. However, many existing 45 ft pallet-wide containers are 9 ft 6 in (2.9 m) high and again, operators say they would lose out to trailers if the interior height were restricted. To stack or not to stack Because shortsea shipping lines use lift-on, lift-off ships and marine container terminals, they need the robustness and stackability of a container. They also need top lift capability. However, those transport operators whose traffic flows do not involve maritime legs utilising lift-on, lift-off ships tend to feel that the container is over-engineered – and hence too heavy and expensive – for them. They prefer swapbodies which tend to be of a lighter
Dealing with diversity In addition to these intermodal units, there are also 20 ft and 30 ft tank containers and tank swapbodies of various lengths, some of which have the tank barrels extending beyond the frame and some with only a base and no frame at all. Again, for the terminal operator, these units are not always loved, not least for the
high risk of damage to the vulnerable areas of these expensive units when being handled. For Kalmar, the wide variety of equipment being freely mixed in European terminals presents technical challenges but so far, none have been insurmountable. Combi spreaders exist which can cope with the various lengths of container and swapbody and with the differing requirements of top-lift and bottom-lift. Kalmar has also worked closely with terminal operators with regard to improved levels of visibility, partly for safety reasons but also to reduce the incidence of damage to both the handling machinery and the units being handled. One recommendation made by the Commission in its draft EILU proposals that seems to have much merit is that intermodal units should be capable of being top-lifted. While technology has solved the problem of bottom-lifting, spreaders that can lift virtually any type of transport unit are inevitably heavier, more complex and more expensive than simple container top-lift spreaders. It would save terminal operators Europe-wide a considerable sum of money if top-lift was possible with 100% of the units they handle. Whatever the outcome of the EILU debate, one thing is certain: Kalmar will be ready with the machines to handle EILUs just as efficiently as any other size of intermodal unit. David Cheslin
wa t c h
As the tourist industry continues to increase, with even the most remote island now becoming accessible, the islands in the Caribbean region are poised to exploit their new found fame. Investment in major infrastructure in terms of airports, seaports, hotels and shopping malls are on the increase but many of the islands' governments have ignored the fundamental reason that keeps the flow of tourists coming. Clean beaches and seas. Islands like Tobago that have vast coral reefs are threatening their economic existence by ignoring the problems of pollution. The Buccoo Reef, long know for its colourful and varied coral is under serious threat and in fact vast areas of it have already succumbed to the inevitable backlash of pollution and are now barren wastes of what was once a beacon to divers. The reason for this ecological catastrophe is simple. Neglect. Insufficient rubbish facilities, coupled with an inadequate sewage treatment plants and a lack of environment awareness has transformed this once enviable coral forest into one now doomed for extinction.
mind our very limited resources. In the end it was a case of going up to people and begging for help in kind.” said Fazilette. “The most heartening thing to see however, was the impact this relatively simple remedy made. What had only a few weeks ago been dirty and littered beaches changed steadily into ones from picture postcard.” Education in schools was the next step for GreenSeas Trust. Between 4-7 volunteers visits a school, each taking a class. This, on average means, between 120-200 students are informed of environmental issues. Using a variety of material students are given the facts and more importantly, the motivation as to why and how their singular contributions can make a difference to marine ecology and eventually to their lives. The Trust is now hoping to develop and run a recycling plant in Trinidad. This is by far its most ambitious plan which will not only benefit Trinidad and Tobago but also its neighbouring islands including St Vincent and the Grenadines. Facilette Khan
Visualise the Caribbean and the picture which immediately comes to mind is secluded, pristine, white sandy beaches, crystal clear blue seas and palms trees swaying gently in the wind. Threatening this picture of tranquillity however, is a more ugly reality; the ever increasing problem of manmade flotsam and jetsam. Plastics, bottles, cans, polystyrene, car batteries and even household appliances mar not only the aesthetic beauty but effect the ecological environment.