The Daily Mash-Up

Friday, September 04, 2015 This Week's Paper
L&I issues hazard alert urging car and truck washes to use safer alternatives

A chemical commonly used in commercial car and truck washes can be dangerous to the health of people who work with it, according to new research by the Department of Labor & Industries’ (L&I) SHARP Program.

A close look at workers’ compensation injury reports over a 12-year period shows nearly 50 workers in Washington were burned after coming in contact with hydrofluoric acid-based car and truck wash products.

SHARP, an occupational safety and health research program at L&I, found seven of the injured workers were hurt seriously enough to require hospitalization. The program looked at reports from 2001-2013. The new research is being published this week in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

“Hydrofluoric acid is insidiously toxic at the low concentrations used in vehicle washing,” said Carolyn Whitaker, SHARP researcher. “Initially, when it touches the skin there may be little or no pain. That means workers are often unaware of the burn until later and typically delay getting treatment.”

The chemical is often used in car and truck wash products to brighten aluminum and break down roadway grime. About half of those injured worked in commercial car washes. The study also found injuries to truck drivers and truck wash workers.

The SHARP Program has developed an easy-to-read safety hazard alert for car and truck wash employers and workers. Whitaker and the SHARP Program strongly recommend that car and truck washes use alternative products that do not include hydrofluoric acid. When this chemical is used, workplaces should take steps to minimize exposure, make sure employees are trained and fully aware of the serious hazard, and make sure they wear appropriate personal protective gear.

Consumers should be aware that the chemical is also used in wheel brightening and boat brightening products sold for home use. Even low concentrations can be hazardous. L&I recommends that people using these products look for alternatives and closely follow the directions on the label regarding personal protective equipment.

Container volumes continue to grow in Puget Sound in July

Container volumes through The Northwest Seaport Alliance continued to post gains in July, growing nearly 8 percent compared to July 2014.

Through the first seven months of the year, the NWSA has handled nearly 2.1 million TEUs (20-foot equivalent units), a 4 percent increase year to date. Strong volumes of full import containers powered the 3 percent year-to-date gain in containerized imports to 823,695 TEUs. Export containers grew nearly 6 percent year to date to 733,150 TEUs, propelled by the high volume of empty containers being sent back to Asia.

Full export containers struggled in July, falling nearly 14 percent on the year, the result of a stronger U.S. dollar and softening economies in Japan and China. Drought and extreme heat in the Pacific Northwest have also challenged Washington state’s agricultural output. In other year-to-date cargo news: Auto imports jumped nearly 8 percent to 109,950 units Breakbulk volumes stabilized, down less than 1 percent to 162,090 metric tons Grain exports continued to fall, down almost 12 percent to 3,690,251 metric tons.

The ports of Seattle and Tacoma formally launched The Northwest Seaport Alliance Aug. 4. The alliance, the first of its kind in North America, will strengthen the Puget Sound gateway and attract more cargo for the region.

City of Tacoma to Launch Lincoln District Revitalization Project

The City of Tacoma invites residents to a community kick-off event launching the Lincoln District Revitalization Project on Thursday, Aug. 20, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. in the auditorium of the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department (3629 S. D St.). The open house will give residents a chance to hear about the neighborhood revitalization initiatives and give public comment on the South 38th Streetscape design.

“When the City Council identified revitalization of the Lincoln Mixed Use Center as a priority in 2014, we set the stage to improve the quality of life for neighborhood residents and attract more private investment,” said Tacoma Mayor Marilyn Strickland. “The Lincoln neighborhood has unique assets such as Lincoln High School, Lincoln Park and the multicultural business district—it's now time to direct resources and make a noticeable impact.”

The project is the City’s first effort at implementing a neighborhood revitalization model that could be brought to other areas in the future. Infrastructure improvements for the South 38th Streetscape Project serves as the cornerstone of the overall revitalization effort. Other key areas of the project include initiatives to improve public safety, housing and property conditions, human services, and economic development service delivery in the area.

“I’ve been working with several community members and business owners in the Lincoln area for the past few years, and what I hear from them is that they would like more of a City presence here,” said District 4 Council Member Marty Campbell. “I’m excited about this project because it addresses issues in the business district as well as the surrounding neighborhood, and I think this will provide a great opportunity for community-building.”

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Cobain Doc Debuts at Grand Friday, Special Even to Follow Tuesday

Nirvana captivated the world in the 1990’s, and true music fans know the band has strong ties to Tacoma. The Grand Cinema will open Cobain: Montage of Heck, the new Nirvana documentary, for a limited run starting Friday, Aug. 14.

After the Tuesday, Aug. 18 screening at 6:45 p.m., Wade Neal, founding member of the Tacoma band Seaweed – and also one of two new Assistant Executive Directors at the Grand - will lead an open discussion with Jim May, founder of the Community World Theater, a vibrant cultural icon that was the focal point for PNW punk, metal, thrash and alternative music in 1987-88. Bon Von Wheelie and Bill Henderson of legendary Tacoma rock and roll band Girl Trouble will also join the discussion.

The new film traces the path from Nirvana front man Kurt Cobain’s life experiences to the songs that would stun the world. “Montage of Heck” has received rave reviews for its inventive use of the documentary format and unprecedented access to archives of Nirvana-related materials. The film focuses heavily on Cobain’s notebooks and tapes created during the most artistically fruitful period of his life. Interviews with Nirvana bassist Krist Novoselic, wife Courtney Love and girlfriend Tracy Marander shed new light on Cobain’s journey from obscurity to worldwide fame. Morgen’s clever use of gorgeously rendered animation shows the audience what it may have been like to listen in on the artist recording his earliest works, with stunning effect.

Tacoma was an important part of Cobain’s artistic development. Starting in the late 1980’s, Seattle banned all-ages shows, which made punk and alternative concerts in Seattle difficult to book. Tacoma’s Community World Theater and Crescent Ballroom became the primary PNW venues for some of the best national acts of the time. This period of intense musical creativity helped Tacoma become a primary launchpad for Nirvana and scores of other bands of the era. Mr. May and the Grand’s other special guests will provide insight into Tacoma’s place in music history.

TOTE announces plans to convert vessel to natural gas

Totem Ocean Trailer Express announced that it has signed a contract with Keppel Offshore & Marine for the conversion of the Midnight Sun to dual fuel liquefied natural gas propulsion. This is the world’s first major conversion of a large RO/RO vessel to LNG. The work will begin in December and is expected to be completed in 90 days.

Once complete, the Midnight Sun will emit fewer air and greenhouse gas emissions. Her sister ship, the North Star, is expected to be converted by 2017.

Totem will be the first in North America to begin the conversion to natural gas. Totem Ocean is part of the TOTE and Saltchuk organization that is leading the maritime industry into LNG with the introduction of the world’s first LNG powered containership into the Puerto Rico trade later this year.

“Totem Ocean is excited to partner with Keppel for the conversion of the Midnight Sun, enabling her to operate on natural gas” stated John Parrott, President of Totem Ocean. “The removal and replacement of the four engines, adding 2,200 cubic meters of LNG capacity along with the addition of 47 kilometers of new cabling is a complex undertaking, and we are confident that Keppel will provide safe, timely, high-quality work to ensure the best outcome for Totem Ocean and our customers.”

Puget Sound Energy, in partnership with Totem Ocean and the Port of Tacoma, has plans to construct an LNG liquefaction terminal at the port that will serve Totem Ocean, residents of Puget Sound and the broader transportation industry in the Pacific Northwest. This facility is scheduled to be complete by the end of 2018.

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