Grupo Portuario S.A.
Grupo Portuario S.A. was founded in February 1996. It manages and operates one of the wharves of the Buenaventura Marine Terminal, Wharf 13. Buenaventura is Colombia’s main port, moving roughly 40 percent of the country’s cargo. Wharf 13 is a multipurpose wharf that handles different types of cargo, especially bulk and loose cargo, motor vehicles, and containers. This wharf was assigned to Grupo Portuario by the Colombian Navy’s Revolving Fund (currently the Armed Forces Logistics Agency) through a leasing agreement.
The objective of the IIC operation is to finance the expansion of Wharf 13, an investment of around US$10 million. This expansion will enable Grupo Portuario to expand its installed capacity by some 35 percent and meet the growing demand. The loan requested from the IIC is for up to US$5 million.
Environmental and Labor Issues:
This is a category III project according to the IIC’s environmental and labor review procedure because it could produce certain effects that may be avoided or mitigated by following generally recognized performance standards, guidelines, and design criteria. The main environmental and labor considerations in connection with the project are: management of liquid effluents and solid waste, handling and storage of hazardous goods, dredging, personal safety, and emergency response.
Several rivers and minor waterways that descend from the western mountain range, an area marked by high rainfall (approximately 6,000 mm per year), empty into Buenaventura Bay. The coastal region, originally covered by mangroves and estuaries, has been impacted by port, fishing, logging, and shipyard activities. The construction of housing in coastal areas without adequate sanitation systems, the presence of hydrocarbon residue from industrial activities, and the existence of sanitary landfills in low-lying areas has contributed to the degradation of water quality, a condition found in the vicinity of Wharf 13, as it is located in an area with relatively low levels of water renewal.
The Grupo Portuario wharf is certified by the Business Alliance for Secure Commerce.
Liquid Effluent Management
The port terminal’s main liquid effluent comes from rainwater runoff, which picks up carbon particulates from the coal pile platforms. The existing platforms, with a surface area of roughly 18,000 m2, discharge these waters through filters into a network of collectors, which in turn empty into three concrete storage tanks that act as solids interceptors (sedimenters). Once the solids have been extracted, the water is discharged into Buenaventura Bay. The projected expansion of the wharf will include the construction of four complementary sedimenters that will improve solids retention. The collection troughs that will be constructed as part of the wharf expansion will have traps every 15 meters to control water velocity. The solids removed in the sedimenters and traps are returned to the coal piles for subsequent loading onto vessels. Some of the products shipped from the terminal must be protected from the rain with plastic covers, which significantly decreases particulate runoff.
Bilge water from the moored vessels is removed by a specialized operator. This operation is supervised by a marine pollution control inspector appointed by the Harbor Master at the request of the maritime agency or the vessel’s port operator.
Solid Waste Management
The company’s activities do not produce solid waste in significant volumes. Normally, no refuse of any type is accepted from moored vessels. When action is necessary, the procedures established by the port authorities are followed.
During the loading of bulk cargo vessels, tarps are placed from the ship’s rail to the dock to prevent any product that escapes the hopper from landing in the water. After the loading operation is complete, the port operator must clean the ship’s storage and deck surfaces to prevent residual material from ending up in the sea.
Handling of Hazardous Products
The movement of hazardous materials (IMO cargo) through the marine terminal is handled according to the regulations established by the Port Authority, which follows the respective international standards.
Before a docked vessel can be fueled, the maritime agency or the vessel’s port operator must request the Harbor Master to appoint a marine pollution control inspector to supervise the operation. The ship can be fueled from a tank truck, following the procedures established in the appropriate regulations.
Given the amount of sediment that the Dagua River deposits as it empties into Buenaventura Bay, periodic dredging is required to maintain the approach channel and the operations and approach areas. This operation is a joint undertaking with the Buenaventura Regional Port Society and involves the use of a suction dredge that stores and transports the sediment collected and transfers it to the dump authorized by the Buenaventura Harbor Master. The dredging company follows an environmental management plan agreed on with the competent authorities.
Personal Safety and Emergency Response
The company has a Contingency Plan in place to respond to potential contingencies or emergencies on the wharf, storage platforms, and access roads. Before drafting the plan, the company performed a risk analysis, dividing the total surface into eight zones, each with its own characteristics. The plan is based on the National Contingency Plan for Combating Spills of Hydrocarbons, Hydrocarbon Derivatives, and Hazardous Substances in Marine, River, and Lake Waters (PNC) (decree 321 of 1999, Republic of Colombia), the regulations of the International Maritime Organization (IMO), and the Permanent International Association of Navigation Congresses (PIANC).
The emergencies considered in the Contingency Plan include personal injuries, incidents caused by hazardous materials, spills or scattering of solids, liquid and fuel spills, fire or explosions, seismic events, man overboard, collisions, and vessels adrift, aground, or abandoned. Terminal has adequate personal protective gear and firefighting equipment to deal with contingencies, including two tugboats with firefighting capabilities, general alarm system, infirmary, and containment and clean-up equipment.
Grupo Portuario and the companies that provide it with outsourced services comply with national labor laws, as well as the standards of the International Labour Organization (ILO). Mandatory core labor standards include: legally-mandated benefits, freedom of association, organization of workers’ unions, and nondiscrimination in the workplace. Company staff do not belong to any union. There is a joint occupational health committee for discussing occupational health and safety issues with the company. In keeping with Colombian law, all workers have health and workplace accident insurance coverage.
Monitoring and Reporting
Grupo Portuario shall prepare an Environmental and Social Action Plan (ESAP) satisfactory to the IIC to ensure compliance with domestic regulations and the IIC’s environmental and workplace safety and health guidelines. The ESAP shall include information on projected effluent management in the wharf expansion, as well as periodic information on company liquid effluent and solid waste management; health, occupational safety, and emergency response training; and accident reporting.