time to move forward

Regional Waste Water Treatment is , and always was  a dead duck. What a colossal waste of time and money it was pursuing this solution.

Portsmouth is awash in unresolved problems, and  the PDA well they are really a golf course management group.

Read their minutes, when they post them which isn’t often. The PDA is unto themselves and no one else. I would dissolve that authority if I could.

Note to everyone, golf is dead.

Mayor Bohenko of Portsmouth is quoted today as trying to rally the public to rail against the EPA.

Now that’s true leadership.



Stuck in Port

I attended the hearing in Portsmouth this past Monday night to listen to  the views of  both proponents and detractors of the scrap metal operation at our State Port Facility. It is our Port,  it belongs to all of us, residents of  NH.So it is not simply a local issue but one that should concern everyone that cares about our  State economy and our stewardship of natural resources, specifically  Great Bay, and the Piscataqua River.

I am always struck when attending  meetings of such import  by the script employed,  cast of characters, and flavor. It is always  depressing to notice the lack of participation by  those with  more time left on their biological clocks. I suppose they are busy with  mealtime, helping the kids with their homework, relaxing , after a busy day.

I still think  one adult could be cut loose from those duties to attend a few meetings and report back.

The rooms are usually full of old guys,  and this meeting was no exception.

The Seacoast  paper reported 40 in attendance , I took my own count that was about half  that number and applying Charlie Tucker’s (our town moderator who always wants to know at Town Meeting how many in attendance are not department heads or  very interested parties)question to that would surmise there were 8 max that did  not have a horse in the race, or a row to hoe.

Present also was a Mr Robert Varney formerly the New England Administrator for the EPA. He is now employed by Normandeau Associates an environmental consulting firm and was I believe there on behalf of someone, still not sure who.

The cast of characters always includes the unassailable.

Tug boat Captains, Tall Ship organizers that realize monies for events with  Mr Grimmel’s assistance, maybe  even a few truck drivers that haul salt or scrap, fisherman in need of dock space. The Port is vital to those interests. Environmental concerns take a back seat to Commerce and Fundraising it would seem .

Pure citizens, just trying to understand what is going on with the Port of NH, 8  maybe.

The Issue:

The long suffering neighbors of the Port are upset  by the presence of the scrap metal piles and their dust and debris. This  concern has been longstanding and unfortunately since so much time has passed, with no resolution satisfactory to opponents , positions have hardened. Mr Thomas Carrol a passionate neighbor has now become nothing but an itch. It just happens to you should you find yourself in a protracted battle.

“Here he comes again” sigh.

Even folks that may harbor similar concerns will feel uncomfortable being associated with those passionate about an issue.That feeling springs  in my view from ones own inaction and lack of concern.  It’s guilt pure and simple, expressed as distaste, for the firebrand’s unrelenting and seemingly personal vendetta.

It can also lead to that person not being treated with respect, and lack of engagement with the citizen to the  issue at hand.

Often these folks simply run out of steam given the real personal toll crusades can exact on the crusader.

I have spoken to  many that have given up a pursuit for these very  reasons.

It wonderful to be outstanding in your field, it’s not so great to be out there standing all alone.

Been there.

Mr Carroll was ready for business Monday evening  with exhibits and handouts and passion in his comments to the  assembled.I found him to be very reasonable given his long campaign and would  like to help him in his seemingly Quixotic pursuit from which many would benefit .

Just an aside here. If you have a presentation to make could you please take a moment to familiarize yourself with your material and the technology that you will employ. There is  no excuse for  not knowing how to use a laptop projector or remote. It just takes so much away from the presentation especially if I  am to assume you do this regularly  in your profession.

I make that assumption if your business card has a VP, Dir, or Esq.

In NH we always begin with a history lesson and Monday  night was no exception. We spend so much time looking back , rather than forward. A  local buff was present to detail, (some details were missing) the history of the working port, all ports at one time were working ports.Trains and Trucks  put many  Port operations out of business ,both ocean operations and riverine . Portsmouth was a group of islands and the Port of NH is on the former Nobles Island. Historical views of the Port are  really hard to discern from  the present, apart from some missing  oil storage tanks.

Ok , got it, now on to the crux please. My head is swimming in history, what about right now, today, tomorrow.

The scrap metal is owned by a company named Grimmel and is trucked to the Port from Maine, already shredded to await a ship to haul it overseas. Then it comes back, I guess, in new products employing sheet steel.It is  tantamount to above ground mining and valuable to China and other countries that are resource poor or are manufacturing so much product no mine could ever keep up. Shipping costs are low too.

The scrap operation is 18% of  the Port’s  current  revenue stream and since the Port receives no monies from the State of NH or the PDA it’s vitally important, right now, to sustain the  operation. I had a long conversation with Gino Marconi the Port Director the following day to gain a greater understanding  of his problem .

The piles are  a problem in my view and he understands. He too would love to have clean cargo coming and going.

There are  many limitations in place that make those piles of toxic metal valuable, for now. His pier is not long enough to accommodate  larger ships and any ships entering Portsmouth must adhere to the tide schedule. This can be an issue for neighbors as that tide cycle waits for no man.

The radar screen image at the top of the post speaks to the most pressing issue. The pad on which the  scrap metal rests awaiting shipment overseas is leaking toxic  runoff into the River. This has been on an ongoing problem in addition to atmospheric pollution by blowing dust.

The Conservation Law Foundation brought this to the attention of the EPA, specifically the runoff through  8 outfall pipes. The EPA did  not have this site on their radar screen. The subsequent investigation resulted in fines and a promise by Grimmel and the Port to do a better job of housekeeping. I spoke with Tom Irwin of  CLF yesterday  regarding this matter and their web site details their success. The following quote from their  site is no different than the opinion expressed to me yesterday, on the  phone by Tom.

“CLF supports working water fronts and metals recycling,” Irwin further stated. “But it’s essential that activities taking place on our waterfronts must comply with the Clean Water Act to ensure that our waters – such as the Piscataqua River and Great Bay – are protected for current and future generations.”

The Port must comply with the Clean Water Act and any other applicable laws as long as this less than desirable operation is allowed to continue.

This Summer a fine was levied on Grimmel of 75,000.00(  two installments?) and they agreed to pay another  150,ooo.oo to help restore eel grass beds and oyster restoration in Great Bay , that’s a little under 2 acres I believe.

The Conservation Law Foundation in my opinion should  be heartily commended for the work they do , every day to protect our resources.

The problem at the Port has been caused by the runoff of water sprayed for dust mitigation on the toxic piles mixing with storm water runoff on the Port’s pad. A pad that was not level and is small to begin with, so that runoff was flowing unimpeded , for years,  into the Piscataqua River. Some metal also may have been falling into the River during loading operations. Gino Marconi the Port Director stated that there is some effort expended to  recover this solid material.

It’s not done that day, of course.

The Port is currently in the final stages  of installing a storm water/process water collection system. Instead of 8 outfall  pipes with no media or entrapment devices to hinder the flow of toxic runoff, there will be only 3. These will be coupled with cisterns that claim to be capable of capturing 80% of the particulate in the runoff. They appeared to me to be undersized for a protracted  rain event, but I am just a citizen. This would be considered primary treatment. If this does not have the mandated and desired effect then they will have to refit the system for secondary treatment. A number was bandied about  during the meeting of 700K for this drainage work. It was also stated by counsel that should this not work that  Mr Grimmel would agree to spending  more money.

I do not believe at this time that Mr Grimmel  has written any checks for the current work. I have inquired about this, but Grimmels level of participation has yet to be ironed out. When the project is completed perhaps there will be a sit down.

Mr Cheney of Sheehan, Bass and Phinney the counsel, also stated that Grimmel will be sweeping the pier more frequently to control dust, then added “at least once a month”

So, now the game is on  for sure. All parties have been  put on notice and they have to perform or more fines will be levied. The Port of NH can continue to seek that seemingly elusive clean cargo and we can all wait, at home,to see what happens next.

I thought I had a solution for the problem at the Port but alas, it turned out to be  a dead end, of sorts.

I spotted a piece of equipment on the web from a company called  Advanced Steel Recovery

I just spoke to the President, Nathan Frankel and he took me to school, on my idea. I had seen his machine on the web for loading shipping containers with recycled metal. It’s basically a ram and Nathan’s company’s web site has a video of it in action. I thought  containerizing the piles in Portsmouth would be a solution. That the Grimmel product could be delivered to the port, ready to  be loaded.

That is not Nathan’s business model, selling his FastTek loader to fellows like Grimmel, who Nathan allowed he had never heard of before my call.

Nathan would   buy Grimmels material load it  at Grimmels yard supplying  his own containers and loading technology and ship it to a waiting customer on a container ship. The USA, especially the West Coast, is awash in shipping containers as we import more than we ship.

My sense is that Grimmels operation is not as sophisticated on the sales end of the equation and as a result here we sit.

NH is sort of stuck , Gino Marconi is  stuck ,Tom Carroll  the neighbor, also  stuck with a dirty operation, in a very sensitive area that must be protected and now will be closely monitored. Lots of monies will be spent in fines probably moving forward, the EPA completed an inspection very recently and the problems at the Port persist. The reports to follow after the new catch basins are operational I hope will result in a better report card. If not, then more money will have to be spent and will be, as long as the scrap operation remains so vital to the Port’s bottom line. This drainage project had to be done, even absent the  dirty tenant and the EPA oversight. Mr Marconi made that quite clear to me in our phone conversation. It was part of an existing plan of port expansion. I am sure that is true, it’s just a real shame that for so many years there were eight pipes dumping right into the River and the issue is  only being addressed  now.


If you would like any more  information on this issue, you have the tools, right  at hand.

Mooring Renewal

Yesterday I was up to the Port of NH to renew my  mooring for the Squamscott. It will be boating season  soon enough,and there is a deadline of March 1st.

This  is the tug that got swamped by the outgoing tide recently while working at the Memorial Bridge project.

There is going to  be a month long investigation of the incident. My view, someone did not check the lines securing the vessel  to the bridge abutment. This vessel has an odd bow for facing a strong outgoing tide. She is floating fine now. This tug travels all over the World performing lots of  duties and is likely crewed by qualified mariners.  The tide can be wicked on the Piscataqua and things  go wrong on  a boat real fast, any boat, anyplace.

“Did I put  what plug in honey?”

This dock above  is just  to the right of the tug, it’s a commercial dock .The Thomas Leighton(Shoals Steamship) is docked  to the right of this picture.

One night I was fishing  with a friend and  it got real foggy, so we left the channel and threw a line to the same cleat the fishing boat is using for it’s bow line. You don’t want to drop an anchor it would likely be fouled in this area. The fishing boat was not on the dock when we tied up. The Thomas Leighton had just returned from a night  cruise so it was about 11pm. There was no way we could make it up river and across the Great Bay  to Exeter, so we started casting as the revelers  on the Leighton hooted down at every  catch. The water was boiling with fish. The fishing boat showed up after 30 minutes of  fishing fun.

Fun over.

I got an earful from the Captain, about this dock being  a commercial dock. I did not make a peep and asked my buddy to keep the muttering down.

There are all types of folks on the water that’s for sure, but rules are rules. There are private docks, commercial  docks, and public docks. Unless you got an emergency, you better be on the right  dock.

The fog lifted  a bit soon after and we felt our way up to the General Sullivan bridge, we had to listen for cars on Rt 16 to find it, it was creepy and slow going. The fog then just  rose off the water like a curtain going up after we cleared the bridge and we raced home under a full Moon.

That is  one large vessel beyond at the State Pier.

You can  check ship registry’s now on the web. Those vessels that are using the AIS system show  up on  an interactive map of the World. Current ships position and track. The  This bulk carrier was last in Spain . It was there that it loaded cargo for  GP in Newington.

I had to slip across to Maine to get a good picture  of this ship, there was a slight morning haze still burning  off the water.

This  looks normal  right? A ship tied up and unloading, drive right by and that’s it.

“I saw a big ship today”

This bulk carrier  is unloading gypsum for the  Georgia Pacific drywall plant in Newington. Those vessel mounted cranes  are dipping into the holds to bring up the special  gypsum from Spain, I guess its very fine  stuff. This gypsum delivery has been going on for days. Another ship of the same type ,same cargo, same destination(GP) a few months ago took 6 days  to offload.

They are using trucks to unload this huge vessel and haul the gypsum up to the Sprague Energy Materials Storage area in Newington. They used the same method on the previous delivery months ago.

Sprague then trucks the material as needed  to the GP plant a few doors down. The  fleet of trucks is working 12 hour shifts. They leave the Port , get on Route 1 south to the traffic Circle, then up Route 16 to River Rd(Rockingham Electric) and the Sprague facility.

Don’t wash your car and drive on Rt 16 when this operation is ongoing.

So why are they doing this? This seems to adding a great deal of expense to the procurement of raw materials, and it’s tying up the State pier for a good chunk of time.

The shipper is using the wrong type  of vessel. That  vessel at the State pier can’t unload at the Sprague pier further up river.

This the right type of vessel to be using for the  Sprague Storage facility pier.

This type of bulk ship is a self -unloader and requires no shore side assistance. It is the type of vessel that normally delivers  gypsum to the Sprague facility. This  type of vessel is according to Sprague, in short supply for hire. These ships haul coal one month, grain the next, gypsum. Oh, I know all about gypsum now after  2 days.  I could give a lecture on gypsum.Wallboard too, it’s quite a story. Gypsum Mines were closed in Canada due to the general economic downturn  a few years ago  and  the dedicated ships were self unloaders plying the North Atlantic. They made regular stops up and down the east Coast, it was a milk run.

“Welcome to EXTV, tonight an in depth look at Gypsum with  Mike Lambert , just back from the mines in Spain”

‘Good evening , this is one of the many wine bags I collected during my investigation with my intrepid companion  Doozie”

I found a blog  all about Nova Scotia shipping news that details the capabilities of the special self unloaders and the demise of the gypsum trade.

Here’s a sample of that  blog Ship Fax

“Its most recent fleet upgrade saw two new self-unloaders, Gypsum Centennial built in 2001 and Gypsum Integrity built in 2008. Ostensibly sister ships, they could carry 42,000 tonnes, and unload gypsum at a rate of 3,000 tonnes per hour. These ships have now found work in other bulk trades.”

I looked up a few of the self unloaders using that ship locator site  and they are busy , in the South Atlantic, Africa, Brazil. They indeed have found other work.

Sprague might install shore side hoppers for the type for ship they are able to hire,then the cranes would simply dump it in the  hoppers and a  conveyer could move it to storage. Still seems slow  to  me.

This vessel  is tied up at the Sprague pier  in Newington, it’s a chemical/oil tanker. I really like  cruising around a working waterfront .

Today this vessel is transiting the Black Sea, off the coast  of Georgia.

“No smoking Sergei!”

The turning basin  off the Sprague  pier is scheduled for dredging and is  a huge project, maybe 10 million. Still a few years away.  We have had a grounding in this area by a large vessel making the swing.

I think an answer is to work a bit harder on securing the right vessel for transport and the Public should  be kept more aware of  operations  at the Port.

Is the State charging enough for the use of the pier.? Just asking.

I know wallboard had a hefty increase recently.

Do you  know where synthetic  gypsum comes from? I bet you will be surprised. This  information could be useful on Jeopardy some day.


Streamline Air

You won’t be flying  to Trenton anytime soon.

The PDA has yet to post the minutes  of their August Board  Meeting  where they discussed all the freebies extended  to the non starter.

I saw a quote  a week or so ago from a PDA official , he talked about “moving in the right direction” regarding re-establishing passenger service to Pease. Who gave this guy such direction? I do not want any more planes flying over my house. We have  3 fully functioning airports within an easy drive. I wish someone other than me would issue a cease and desist to the PDA Board  relative to  pursuing passenger service. It’s fruitless and a total waste of time.

I want more oversight of the  PDA and a complete review of operations by an outside auditor.

King for a day would clean house at the PDA.


Streamline Air

The new airline at Pease is a start up with one destination, Trenton NJ. If they did  establish any routes to Florida the aircraft would be  an turbo prop. I will take a wide body jet thanks. I heard an interview conducted with an airline official  of Streamline and he was talking about costs, his costs. When they  rolled out the cost of Jet A fuel was about 3 dollars and change , it’s now over 5 bucks a gallon. The ticket price to Trenton from Hanscom is almost double a Southwest flight to Philly. The Trenton Mercer Airport is about 45 minutes North by car from Philly. The  Trenton Airport has seen a dozen airlines come and go since 1983.

Why did the Portsmouth Herald  not report the name of  the new airline ? Why the drama of an article lacking the basic information? What sort  of a “package” will this airline to Trenton  get?  Some  airports  that have extended  a big welcome  to start ups with incentives have been left holding the bag. This outfit will be flying  20 seat planes of business travelers, not vacationers.

Here are a couple of links  concerning the  new airline


Wicked local Lexington Streamline Air



4 for Friday, read in sequence

I  found it amusing, the typo. I also had no clue what Judd was doing these days. Now the revolving door of Pentagon  to Arms contractor is matched.  Congress to Financial Services Firm. The Financial Services Industry is skimming, they produce nothing of value. They simply add cost to every transaction.

When will  you sleepers awake?

Goldman SACKS





Last  one, oldie but goodie, not a SMG article. None of them  are.


J Bonnie Newman was just appointed interim Chancellor  of the Community College system  in NH by Gov Lynch.

She is qualified for the slot, I won’t argue that one.


She was banned  once from the New England Golf Club in Stratham for supporting  Lynch. The millionaire golf club formed by Benson.

Stay cool.



I was reading  the PDA Board ( International Tradeport) minutes last night. This will be interesting  to  see how many visitors  click on the minutes link.


Hope you love golf  because the minutes  are awash with  golf course chat. They even discuss the new menu at the Clubhouse . In between  they are discussing chopping down trees at the end of one of the longest runways  in the USA

“You can see it from Space!” Any  time one mentions that runway in an article the space view gets a mention.

The tree’s are located  in a historic section of Newington.Oh the PDA won’t be using their money of which they have little, they will  have the Air Force do the heavy lifting, money and  study, and be the pressure point .  It’s really a case of “let’s do something, cut some trees, something”. There is no need to cut down the trees, there is plenty of room to land safely.

The PDA authority  when  originally formed allows far too much heavy handed behavior regarding the environment, and notification of abutters.

Ich bin ein Newingtoner

From the  PDA  Board minutes. 1/20/11

“PDA had 10,326 enplanements as of December 31, 2010. Enplanements included troop flights,sports team charters, and Boy Scout discovery flights. FAA requires 10,000 enplanements annually to secure an annual entitlement of $1 million dollars. Director Allard commended Mr. Mullen for his efforts in securing the Boy Scout discovery flights. Mr. Hopper reported that air show planning for 2011 has begun.”

Boy Scout Discovery  Flights? The newspaper  reported that Bill Hopper(airport manager)  characterized the Boy Scout flights as a “handful”

Not a reflection on the deportment of the  passengers, but in my opinion meant to minimize and mask this last ditch effort to make the numbers.


Boy Scout Discovery  Flights are usually  conducted by  private pilots in little  planes so the kid can get a feel for flying, not  sitting  with 170  scouts and family members in a 737 for one hour free scenic trips. The flyer announcing the last minute  gambit which  you can read here ,clearly states they need 400 takers, they got 500. Were camera’s discouraged? Where is the picture  of all the kids on the runway? I tried to find one and came up empty. Without pulling this stunt, no million bucks. The FAA paid a  million in taxpayer funds  to facilitate  the ruse of Pease as a functioning , necessary and profitable airport.

Just wait  till the Air Force dumps the Air Bridge.


The last 5  PDA Board meetings had no  Press or Public attendees.

If you want  to comment on the Exeter Town Crier in the future you will have to identify yourself.