Shipyards Alan Sprott, Vice President, Vigor, next to a Grattix box at Vigor that removes heavy metals in stormwater from roof runoff
Going The Extra
Vigor’s environmental initiatives are part of its corporate culture
he U.S. Pacific Northwest is known for its lush green forests, crisp rolling rivers and majestic snow-topped mountains. So how do you operate a shipbuilding, repair and conversion business in these pristine surroundings? “A key value of the organizational culture that we are cultivating is respect, which encompasses respect for the individual, respect for the community, and respect for the environment,” says Alan Sprott, Vice President, Vigor. “Our environmental initiatives are a way for Vigor to re-enforce this value throughout the organization by walking our talk,” he says. The Portland, OR-based shipyard group has 12 facilities in the Pacific Northwest and Alaska, employing some 2,500 workers. Vigor can handle just about any major ship repair—it operates one of the largest dry docks in North America—while churning out everything from steel deck barges to fireboats to Washington State’s largest class of car ferries. Within the last decade, Vigor has grown by leaps and bounds through a series of key mergers and acquisitions, with Oregon Iron 24 Marine Log // November 2016
Works, Alaska Ship & Dry Dock, Seward Ship’s Drydock, and Kvichak Marine all becoming part of the company. Sprott says that as a result of the growth, there has been a focus on “building the company’s culture as a way to integrate people from multiple organizations, and ultimately maximize the benefits of our growth.”
Walking the Talk Even though it was in full compliance with all federal, state and local environmental regulations, this past spring Vigor took the extra step of signing an agreement with Portland-based community activists Neighbors for Clean Air to lower even further odor and emission levels from its operations. Sprott says Vigor wanted to engage directly with the community on the issues, and the group Neighbors for Clean Air became its lead partner in this effort along with the University of Portland environmental science department. The results of the effort were a formal agreement identifying specific measures for Vigor to implement to reduce odors and toxic emissions associated with its operations.
Vigor agreed to discontinue the operation of a used oil processing plant causing nuisance odors, limit dry abrasive blasting activities to reduce particulate emissions, cold iron vessels at the shipyard, and only burn natural gas in facility boilers. “Vigor’s principle goal with regard to the environment is to act responsibly and practice good stewardship,” says Sprott. “This naturally leads to a reduced footprint. But it also results in lower costs, safer working conditions, higher productivity, improved community relations, reduced legacy liability, and better financial performance for the company.” Furthermore, Vigor currently has two habitat projects in the works at its Seattle and Portland facilities. In Seattle, Vigor is building a three-acre shallow water habitat in an unused area of the shipyard. The primary benefit of this project is to provide a vital resting place for juvenile salmon to acclimate to salt water before migrating to the sea. The second project, in Portland, is a collaborative effort with the University of Portland to establish micro-habitats in an industrial setting—in this case establishing a habitat for the Monarch butterfly.