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Port Operations

Table - Port Operations & Applicable Federal Regulations

The following table contains common operations that occur on port properties that are either conducted by a port tenant, operator, contractor, owner, or governing body (e.g. port authority). These are mainly activities occurring on the land-side rather than the water-side with the exception of dredging and the Vessel General Permit regulations. Also included are federal environmental regulations that may apply to that particular common operation.

Note that not all possible environmental regulations are listed in this table, nor are all port operations listed. Also, for each operation listed, there may be other regulatory or good practice issues that may be required by not listed in this table. This table is meant as a starting point for the port operator to get a better understanding of their environmental responsibilities. It is recommended to fully browse the "Regulation" section http://www.portcompliance.org/regulations.php to gain further knowledge. It is also recommended to navigate to the "state regulations" page http://www.portcompliance.org/stateregs.php for detailed state environmental regulations.

Common Port Operations are in alphabetical order.

TERCAlso Visit:
Transportation Environmental Resource Center for port and vessel compliance assistance.

NOTE: Some of the port operations in the table below could be industrial point source categories and therefore process wastewater discharges from these operations may require a pretreatment permit or individual permit in addition or in place of a stormwater permit. We've indicated which operations might reguire this (indicated by "CWA Effluent Limitations"), however it is your responsibility as operator to make these determinations.

Common Port Operations

Information Sources

Air Conditioning Maintenance

  • Repair, maintenance of comfort cooling or industrial process refrigeration

  • Repair, maintenance office units

  • Repair, maintenance vehicle units

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

Auto Port

  • New and used cars are rolled on and rolled off ("ro-ro") of vessels.

  • Maintenance, leaky oil, car washing, sun roof installation, painting, machine shop services, fueling.

  • Vehicles are stored at port and trucking company transport off site and around port.

  • Typical co-located uses could include boat engine repair, passenger vessels, fueling, and sewage disposal.

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)


If co-located uses, regulatory considerations could vary.

Auto Salvage

  • Stock piles of used auto and truck parts

  • Auto salvage facility

  • Recycling of auto parts

  • Management of fuels, oils and other spent liquids

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

Ballast Water Management

  • Ships take in water for stability and trim before voyage. Once the ship arrives at its destination this water is released.

  • Ballast water can contain stones, sediment and thousands of living invasive species.

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)


Bilge Waste Management

  • Bilge is the lowest compartment of a ship where the two sides meet and where water collects from rough seas, rain, minor leaks in the hull.

  • Bilge is where oil, solvents, detergents, chemicals, urine, and other wastes that have accumulated while out at sea and must be taken care of when at dock side by transporting to a holding tank commonly provided by the port. This transfer and storage of bilge waste onto land-side port property becomes a hazardous waste.

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)


Boiler Maintenance

  • Boilers burn fuel to generate steam for space heating, hot water, co-generation for electricity, and process steam.

  • The environmental impact of boilers can arise from air emissions from fuel combustion, wastewater from cooling and cleaning, and solid waste from ash disposal.

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

Cargo Handling Equipment

  • Cranes, Drayage trucks, Yard Hustlers, fork lifts, rail cars, etc.

  • Typically powered by diesel engines

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

Cargo Loading & Off-Loading

  • Commodities are loaded and off-loaded from vessels, trucks, rail cars, warehouses.

  • Air emissions from crane operations, truck, rail cars.

  • Loading docks at warehouse potential for spill into storm drain.

  • Loading, off-loading of liquids into tanks.

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)


Chemical Storage & Handling

  • Typically these are non-bulk drums, totes and various-sized containers of chemicals and chemical products, pesticides, that are be loaded/off-loaded and stored on port/tenant property.

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)


Construction Activities

  • Demolition, repair, construction of structures, warehouse, pipelines, piers, public space, roadways, rail spurs, infrastructure required by new tenants, barges, utilities, etc.

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

Container Terminal

  • Crane operation

  • Trucking, drayage trucks, yard hustlers

  • Rail car operations

  • Vessel discharge containers and backload containers

  • Truck delivery containers and pickup containers

  • Project cargo that is larger than normal cargo and requires special cranes (e.g. a cooling tower for a power plant)

  • Maintenance of cranes and trucks

  • Vessel wastes - bilage

  • Hour of operation can affect surrounding neighborhoods with noise and air pollution.

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)


Cruise Ship

  • There are "port of call" ships are destined for another port and there are "home port" ships that begin and end at your port.

  • Landside transportation, tour busses, taxi service

  • Take on drinking water

  • Discharge sewage

  • Fueling

  • "Stores" bring on supplies

  • Dry cleaning chemicals

  • Photo processing chemicals

  • Medical services

  • Broken electronic equipment

  • Fluorescent, incandescent and halogen lights

  • Customs and security

  • Luggage screening

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)



  • The removal of materials such as sand, silt, and clays in an existing navigation channel

  • Maintenance dredging is performed periodically to remove bottom sediment that has been naturally deposited through time

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)


Dredged Material Disposal

  • Activities such as soil remediation, demolitions, and new building, pier, road, or utility construction generally produce large amounts of dredged or fill material

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)


Dry Bulk Storage

  • Commodities can include raw, intermediate, final product or by-product of a material such as: rock, sand, dry construction goods, forest products, coal, grain, iron ore, limestone, fertilizer, taconite (a low grade iron ore), salt, etc.

  • Material can be moved with crane and bucket or on open conveyor belt.

  • Some material can consist of fine particles that can be easily dispersed with handling or wind and cause air quality issues.

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)


Dry Dock

  • Ship repair and maintenance

  • Maintenance done to military vessels, commercial vessel, cruise ships and other.

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

Electrical Shop

  • Electrical shops in the shipyard perform a variety of functions throughout the industry. In many cases, the electrical shop installs, rebuilds, builds, and tests electrical components (e.g., motors, lights, transformers, gauges, etc.).

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

Equipment Cleaning

  • Various operations have different type of equipment that eventually need to be maintained and cleaned

  • Gantry Cranes, conventional cranes, fork lifts, trucks, buckets & grapples, bull dozers pay loaders, boom trucks, welding trucks, water trucks, excavators, sweepers, pumps, tug boats, deck barges, hopper barges, crane barges, trackers, asphalt trailers, flat beds, fuel oil tankers, bulk cement trailers, engines, etc.

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

Fish Pier

  • Port Authority maintain berth so water is deep enough for boats to moor up.

  • Boat owners fix netting, unload fish, load ice, etc.

  • Boat owners use shore power or generators when moored.

  • Trucks also load and unload fish for processing.

  • Crew may also park cars near pier.

  • Fueling at dock-side.

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)


Fish Pier - Seafood Processing Building

  • The building will be refrigerated and have freezer rooms.

  • The building will have office space.

  • Washing, packaging, palletizing, and loading of fish.

  • Fish also comes by truck and can contain fish from overseas and by local residents.

  • "Fish gurry" is the waste product after processing and can be used in cat/dog food. Often the operator will contract for a pick up service of the fish gurry.

  • Wax coated cardboard can not be recycled. Pallets and plastic are other solid waste concerns.

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

Foundry / Blacksmith Shop

  • The blacksmith shop is an older term used for the shipyard shop that performs forging or castings.

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)


  • Fueling of vessels, trucks, and other equipment


Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)


Fumigation Practices

  • Typical uses of a fumigant at port facilities include commodity fumigation activities for import and exported goods such as fruit, grain, cut flowers, plants, wood packaging, wood products, etc.

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

Greenfields (Portfields, Brownfields)

  • Greenfields are real property that were once contaminated by hazardous substances, pollutants, or contaminants and are now cleaned up and being used for redevelopment purposes. In the case of a port, for additional tenant property.

  • Portfields is a cross agency effort to clean up coastal brownfields in port and harbor areas.

  • Construction will occur after it is decided what to build (e.g new tenant warehouse, new piers, roadways, etc.)

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)


Harbor Craft

  • Tug boats

  • Mooring, fueling, waste disposal, sewage, maintenance and repair, painting, etc.

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)


Import / Export

  • Importing and exporting a variety of materials including cathode ray tubes, chemicals, etc. 

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)


Liquid Bulk Storage

  • Product is transferred to/from vessels and stationary bulk tanks and truck and rail tank cars

  • Commodities could include petroleum products including vegetable oil, animal oil, petroleum, synthetic, fuel, sludge, chemical hazardous substances, food products, etc.

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)


Machine Shop

  • Often serves the entire ship yards machining needs

  • Cutting oils, lubricating oils and grease, degreasing solvents

  • Storage of scrap metal

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

Maintenance of Port Property

  • Hazardous and solid waste management

  • Roadway sweeping, repair

  • Vehicle equipment maintenance

  • Repair/replace fencing

  • Structural repairs/carpentry

  • Construction of infrastructure required by tenants

  • Heating Ventilation & Air Conditioning repair

  • Electrical services

  • Plumbing operations and services, flushing hydrants and sprinkler systems, repair/replace water lines, sanitary lift station repairs, etc.

  • Chemical and gas cylinder storage

  • Pest control/pesticide application

  • Cleaning and sanitation

  • Landscape/gardening

  • Snow removal using salt and sand

  • Potable water for public berths

  • Concession stands (food vendors)

  • Emergency response for truck accidents, chemical and fuel spills, spent absorbent pads, used Personal Protection Equipment, used drums.

  • Dredging operations

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)


Maintenance of Vessels

  • Manufacture and repair ships and boats (e.g. barges, cargo vessels, crew boats, ferry boats, fishing vessels, etc.)

  • Chemical paint stripping, abrasive blasting and surface preparation

  • Painting and painting equipment cleaning, solvent wastes

  • Engine overhauling and repair

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)



  • Port tenants manufacture various products such as dry wall, food products, metals and steel productions, chemical processing, regenerated sulfuric acid for gasoline, blending and packaging of oils and lubricants, engine oil, hydraulic fluids, recycled paper and packaging, ceramics, etc.

  • Humidity controlled buildings (heating and air conditioning)

  • Truck parking, repair, fueling

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)


  • Public marinas and tenant owned marinas

  • Fueling of boats

  • Repairs and maintenance

  • Painting

  • Renting boat slips

  • Storing boats

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

Painting & Paint Removal

  • Painting a vessel and dockside facilities to improve appearance and performance and to prevent corrosion and marine organism growth

  • Clean and remove old paint using chemicals or abrasive blasting

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)


Pesticide Use

  • Used around port property for pest control

  • Public spaces for weed control

  • Storage of pesticide/herbicides/fertilizers

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

Plate Shop

  • The plate shop is a generic term used for the area and process in the shipyard that provides steel parts cutting, bending, and sub-assembly. The plate shop uses information from engineering drawings to produce plate shapes.

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

Public Parks, Public Space

  • Public fishing

  • Solid waste removal

  • Pesticide/herbicide storage and use

  • Drinking water supply

  • Brownfields redevelopment and dredged material application to build the public space

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)


Rail Road Services

  • Break repair (could contain asbestos)

  • Track repair and new track construction (industrial grade track and rail on dock)

  • Locomotive repair, maintenance

  • Rail storage for tenants

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)


Scrap Recycling

  • Recycling of batteries, metals, electronics, plastics, glass, wood pallets, asphalt roofing materials, refrigerators/freezers, used propane tanks, etc.

  • Some recycled goods are shipped over seas, for example, cathode ray tubes.

  • Fuel and oil management

  • Equipment repair

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)


Sheet Metal Shop

  • The sheet metal shop is generally responsible for fabricating and installing ventilation ducting and vent spools

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

Ship Building & Repair

  • Building, painting, cleaning, repair of water vessels, sanding, grinding, welding, metal disposal.

  • Typically a ship/vessel is handled while on dry dock or tied up to a pier

  • Some port tenants build pleasure yachts, fishing boats, etc.

  • Engine repairs may vary from small automotive-type engines of smaller vessels to repairs on large boilers and turbines of tankers or other cargo vessels

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)


Tank Farm

  • Common terms: oil depot, oil terminal, installation

  • Storage of oil and/or petrochemical products which are then usually transported to end users or further storage facilities

  • Aboveground and underground storage tanks, pipe lines

  • Marine tankers will discharge product through pipe lines to tank farm.

  • Trucks and rail will transport product off site


Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

Trash / Solid Waste

  • Garbage from office space and on-site workers at times are mismanaged and could end up along the property lines and roadways and clog storm drains

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

Vapor Control Systems

  • Marine loading facilities that use vapor control systems to collect vapors of crude oil, gasoline blends, benzene emitted from vessel cargo tanks.

  • Environmental issues concern facilities that load certain volatile cargo, vapor line connections, requirements for vessel liquid overfill protection

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)



  • Port tenants warehouse various commodities, such as, various types of fertilizers, metals, caustic fluids and oils, foods, batteries, etc.

  • The warehouse could have a cooling component (comfort cooling or industrial processing cooling, humidity controlled)

  • Commodities are stored in warehouse, loaded and unloaded onto trucks and train cars

  • Truck parking, repair, fueling

  • Some commodities could qualify as hazardous

  • Some commodities may be in line for exporting (e.g. cathode ray tubes)

  • Liquid oil commodities stored in 55 gallon drums or tanks


Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)