Handle coal while protecting the environment
Vostochny Port has proved that: production growth can and should be accompanied by modern environmental protection measures
Vostochny Port (as well as Rosterminalugol JSC, Ust-Luga, Leningradskaya Oblast) is the key stevedore of the Russian coal industry and a subsidiary of Russia's largest coal port holding group, Port Management Company LLC. The total cargo turnover of coal terminals controlled by the holding in 2016 was 41.5 million tons (mt) – more than a third of the total amount exported from Russia by sea. The company ships coal to more than 30 countries all over the world. By 2019, the annual shipment volume of this giant port is expected to increase to 56.5 mt.
The Far East and its transport and logistics infrastructure are a special priority of the nation's leadership. Vostochny Port began the enlargement of the specialized coal terminal in 2012, after President Vladimir Putin's order to build additional export infrastructure in the Far East. Another factor played a role: with encouraging forecasts of cargo traffic growth, the coal stevedores of the Far East practically reached their maximum levels of shipment volume.
In ten years, from 2006 to 2016, Vostochny Port increased cargo turnover by almost 50% – from 16 to 23.5 mt. Thanks to the terminal's third stage, the capacity of Russia's largest coal stevedore will increase to 39 mt by 2019. Investments in the project, including the construction of two railway yards, are estimated at RUB 31 billion. Construction is financed by the port holding Port Management Company LLC and its subsidiary Vostochny Port JSC, without recourse to state funds.
At full capacity, the annual throughput capability of the third stage will be 16.5 mt, and 619 additional jobs will be created.
The commissioning of the third stage of the current specialized terminal will be a milestone not only for Port Management Company and Vostochny Port, but also for the whole Russian economy, since it will increase the export of coal products.
"In 2016, the volume of exports almost equaled domestic consumption (167 mt – domestic market, 165 mt – exports). In 2010, the share of exports was 39% of the total volume of coal supplies; now it is almost 50%. Beginning in 2010, Russia's share in the global coal market has grown insignificantly and remained around 11–12%, while the Far Eastern sector has been steadily growing. In 2014, it surpassed the Northwestern. In 2016, the Far East exported 21.3 mt more than the Russian Northwest. In comparison with 2012, coal transportation volume in 2016 in the Far Eastern ports increased by 31.7 mt, while in the Northwest it decreased by 1.9 mt," says First Deputy of the General Director of Port Management Company LLC Irina Olkhovskaya.
But it must be said: when it comes to such large-scale industrial projects, there always arises the question of their impact on the environment. Often, production and financial indicators overshadow all other issues for large companies. And the coal industry is in a unique position: coal enterprises have the most direct impact on the environment.
At Vostochny Port, they say: funding for environmental measures grows from year to year. In 2008, RUB 13.5 million; in 2010, RUB 15.2 million; in 2016, they reached RUB 32.3 million. In total, over the past five years, from 2012 to 2016, the company spent about RUB 1 billion on environmental measures, including equipment modernization. In 2017, another RUB 150 million have been set aside for this purpose.
"At Vostochny Port, the most modern technology in the world is employed to reduce the negative impact on the environment. Closed unloading of cars, cargo movement on a closed conveyor belt, taking wind loads into account, internal monitoring of the environment, including from the air, and much, much more. In addition, this year, by order of the governor of Primorsky Territory and under the supervision of the head of Nakhodka, we have developed additional measures that will be implemented over the next four years. Thanks to the modernization of port treatment facilities in 2017, the quality of water samples has improved by 2.5 times," says Viktoria Arsentyeva, head of the Ecology Department of Vostochny Port JSC.
The third stage of the port uses the best technology from Russia and the world, minimizing the negative impact on the environment. Measures earlier implemented at Vostochny Port JSC and Rosterminalugol JSC also play their part. They include specialized covered equipment (a complex of car dumpers, wagon defrosters unique in Russia, windscreens along wagons' routes, covered conveyor belts), and specialized machinery (reclaimers, stackers, ship loaders, transborders). These measures minimize the emission of solid substances into the air.
Dust-exhaust systems, dry fog system, water spraying, and water purifying are additional environmental protection measures used at the ports of Port Management Company.
How does it work in practice?
The loaded trains sent to Vostochny Port are brought before unloading to 600-meter-long, roofed, wind-protected facilities, which protect the coal from blowing away in strong summer winds. In winter, the temperature is kept above zero inside the open cars in order to prevent the repeated defrosting and freezing of coal (another advantage of the enterprise). Unloading takes place in a closed car-dumper complex, equipped with a powerful cyclone dust-exhaust system and the dry fog dust-control system. Then coal is transported to the warehouse through underground passages and covered conveyor lines, and from there, after the preparation of the shipload lot, to the ship. For loading coal into ships, ship-loading machines (SLM) as tall as high-rise buildings are used. These machines are unique in that they drop directly into the holds of bulk-carriers, which keeps coal and coal dust from the water of the bay during loading. Vostochny Port's SLM are also equipped with water-screen systems for maximum dust-control during loading.
In order to create a protective layer at coal warehouses, a water-spraying system consisting of 144 industrial atomizers is used in summer; snow generators perform the same function in winter. Transfer stations are equipped with special ventilation hoods, from which air enters dust-exhaust systems, where it is further cleaned.
In total, 21 air-purification units and 8 wastewater-treatment plants are used at the operating terminals of Vostochny Port around the clock. This summer, the company finished modernizing its water treatment facilities. They feature a cascade of reservoirs, in each of which water from the car dumpers and sewage water undergo stage-by-stage purification, with foreign matter being almost completely removed. Dewatered sludge from filters is gathered and brought to a special disposal site.
But there are times when, rather than technology, we need a normal human attitude and an understanding that nature existed before we did and will remain after us. In recent years, on the request of Vostochny Port, tens of millions of young fish and other sea animals have been raised and released into Primorye waters. It has cost the company more than RUB 105 million in the last three years alone.
According to the environmental monitoring conducted by the company's own accredited laboratories and third-party experts, Wrangel Bay, where the industrial giant is located, remains one of the cleanest bays in the Far East. Samples of water and air taken here not only meet but even exceed standards. For example, the average monthly air dust content in the company's sanitary protection zone has been much lower than the norm since the beginning of 2017, and the water almost meets fishery standards.
It is indicative that, from year to year, the work of the coal stevedore is ensured by whole dynasties of dockworkers. Technology changes, modern machinery is introduced, but traditions of hard work and utmost professionalism remain unchanged. Today, Vostochny Port employs 1,700 people, a little more than 1,200 of whom are residents of Wrangel village, located not far the port.
As a sidenote, Vostochny Port is the only stevedore in the Far East to invite the public to visit coal terminals.
At the end of 2016, Vostochny Port and the administration of Nakhodka City District signed an agreement to cooperate on environmental safety for five years. New environmental measures have been developed, which the company will implement over the next four years. A similar agreement was signed with State Duma Deputy Viktoria Nikolaeva in the summer of 2017. The management of Vostochny Port notes that in matters of environmental safety, the state, society, and business need to develop a unified position. That is why the documents were signed.
Since Vostochny Port was founded, 390 mt of coal have passed through its terminals, 6.6 mt wagons have been handled, 28,000 vessels have been loaded. In the past 10 years, Vostochny Port JSC has shipped more than 200 mt of coal products. It is the undisputed leader of Russia's coal ports.