POINT COMFORT – “Wear stronger”. “Facts matter.”
Signs emblazoned with these slogans have popped up around Calhoun County, encouraging residents to check out a website, strongport.comon the widening and deepening of the Matagorda Ship Channel.
The Calhoun Port Authority has put up signs for people to talk about the port, port superintendent Charles Hausmann said.
“If they see the sign, I hope they go to the website, which has information about the Broaden and Deepen projects – facts and information about what’s really going on,” he said. Hausmann said.
Luis DeLaGarza, chairman of the Calhoun Port Authority Board of Directors, said the purpose of the signs is to “tell the community that we are here doing a lot of good things at the port. We are moving towards improving the environment.
The port works towards environmental, social and governance objectives. The ESG movement is a corporate social responsibility initiative launched by the United Nations that encourages companies to use a rating system to measure their environmental and social impacts.
“We have no intention of harming the environment. In fact, we own 40,000 acres of bay bottom and work to achieve environmental, social and governance,” Hausmann said.
Hausmann said they plan to plant carbon-capturing plants — whether on the seabed or on trees on the Alamo Beach Harbor property or in Comfort. He also noted that they are moving towards a zero carbon footprint.
“We transport things, oil, chemicals, but I want to go green. At the end of the day, you can’t just turn off the tap. It has to be gradual, so we start with the green initiative,” he said.
DeLaGarza said the port plans to plant 20 acres of mangrove trees that “eat a tremendous amount of carbon and somehow expel oxygen.” It’s pretty cool.”
Both Hausmann and DeLaGarza said the facts were important — especially about oyster beds and mercury from the Alcoa superfund site.
DeLaGarza said they would make oyster beds and increase the size of Bird Island.
“We are going to enlarge the island by two thirds. It’s 10 acres, and we’re going to make it 30 acres with the dredged material deposition,” he said. “Facts matter, and they’re saying things that aren’t correct — the fact is, we’re expanding oysters alongside deepening and widening on both sides,” DeLaGarza said.
Several lawsuits have been filed against the US Army Corps of Engineers regarding the environmental impact of the widening and deepening.
“I hope it’s not postponed. I have already sent the Corps our 25% of attorney’s fees, $16,667, which we pay as a non-federal sponsor,” Hausman said.
Environmental samples taken offshore are subjected to the laboratory process.
At the August 20 Environmental Forum, a presenter said the port plans to bring in very large crude carriers.
Hausmann said VLCCs take in 75 feet of water and are not brought in by widening and deepening.
“We bring in Aframax ships,” he said. Ships currently visiting the port are 755ft by 109ft, while Aframaxes average 830ft by 145ft.
“It doubles the capacity so we can transport more product at the end of the day,” he said. “If you look at the research, wider ships don’t cause as much wake as narrower ships.”
In addition, the port will launch another environmental project along State Route 35. This project, Hausmann said, will build 14 acres of deep grass with revetment to make it permanent to compensate for dredging on the southern peninsula.
It will be a habitat for spawning fish, crabs and other creatures. It will feature concrete mats as well as surfacing to make it a permanent site.
If after a visit to strongport.com website, you still have questions, Hausmann said to call the port and speak with him or the assistant port manager Forest Hawes.