Port panel tightens port user safety rules
Commissioners for the Port of Nome have revised the tariff rules and regulations to include safety measures.
The Nome Common Council was scheduled to consider the final draft of Port of Nome Tariff No. 12 for final approval at a special council meeting at noon March 2.
The commission reviewed years of spreadsheets as well as tariff rules and regulations of other harbor operations in updating Nome’s rules and pricing effective with council adoption for the upcoming shipping season.
The proposed tariff requires supplies and equipment for work on vessels in the port to be cleared away each night. Failure to clean up after the workday could result in a cleanup fee plus being denied temporary storage privileges. Workers must place tarpaulins or heavy-duty material under hull-scraping jobs to keep residue off the land where the craft is located. The tariff rules hold owners and operators responsible for disposing of debris and residue, as well as restoring the ground base to its original condition after work finishes. Any hot work—welding or cutting— sandblasting or painting, whether on a vessel or dockside, must have a permit for each day of work to facilitate safe operation of the port.
Any “hot work’ requires assigning a fire watch person for the entire duration of the work.
The fire watch person “may not be assigned other duties while performing this vital safety function, and shall, while hot work is ongoing, be not more than 20 feet from the work area,” according to the tariff regulations.
Persons working on cargo, gravel or equipment on or at port facilities must wear hardhats and safety vests. When work requires cargo or freight to be raised to elevated position, suspended from a crane hook, for example, a safety line should be attached and handled by a safety watch person to prevent spillage or dropping that could injure or cause death.
Support vessels may not remain attached to main vessels or dock in the small boat harbor without approval from the harbormaster or port director for safety or weather reasons. All port users must keep mooring areas alongside their vessels clear of obstructions in case other vessels need to raft alongside during busy periods of overcrowding. Additionally, vessel operators and owners must move vessels into a rafting pattern when requested by port administration to accommodate overcrowding or weather situations.
Delays resulting from bad weather will be handled on a case-by-case basis, according to the draft tariff, as decided by the harbormaster or port director—currently Lucas Stotts, harbormaster, and Joy Baker, port director.
All third-party vehicles using the Port of Nome must have an ABC Dry Chemical Fire Extinguisher in the vehicle or the vehicle may not enter the port.
The proposed tariff approved by the Nome Port Commission and handed to the council raises the prices on all Port of Nome services across the board.
A revenue and expenses study contracted from Northern Economics by the commission in 2013 advocated a 50 percent increase right away on port rates in order to meet rising operating costs, future development needs and deferred maintenance costs. However, the study suggested that the big jump in user fees could be phased in high grant years.
The commission and the council agreed that a 50 percent increase would be too drastic. Instead, the groups voted to raise the rates by 10 percent in 2013 and then by five percent for each of 2014 and 2015. These three increases excluded cargo and fuel operations. The commission went back to a 10 percent increase for the coming open-water season in 2016, but the proposed tariff applies the increase across the board to affect all port usages.
The Nome port and harbor facility started operations in 1987 following completion of the causeway.
The Port of Nome Commission approved the revised draft 4—1 at its regular meeting Feb. 18, with commissioners Megan Alvanna-Stimpfle, Doug Johnson, Charles Lean and Mike Sloan voting yes, but commissioner Jim West Jr. casting a lone no vote. His vote was against the 10 percent increase, West said, commenting that even a slight raise in prices added to the cost of living in Nome.