The Port of Baltimore: Stienweg Port Facility

With 90% of world trade brought in on ships, port facilities and storage units are a big deal along rivers and shorelines. My class and I went to Baltimore inner harbor where we went to Stienweg Port Facility. Here, ships bring a verity of metals like lead and aluminum as well as cocoa beans to the port where they are unloaded and stored in a ware house or sold to buyers for car parts and candy bars companies. We learned about all the structures and systems behind trading and ship yards but one interesting fact we learned was that the port of Baltimore started in 1706 because of tobacco trade to England but it wasn’t until 1828 when rail roads where put in to transport goods west. Baltimore was the the nearest east coast port to the west coast. This allows goods to reach the central states at a cheaper price as opposed to trucking the goods. With about 1,830 cargo ships and 102 cruise ships entering the port annually, the port had to build up to meet the demands of these incoming ships. That being said, the entire harbor is occupied with sort are and docks to off load the cargo. While we were at Stienweg, we had the opportunity to get a tour of the harbor on a tug boat. This changes in perspective of the harbor as opposed to driving around. We did not see any living shore lines or areas not occupied with factories. This is impressive but at the same time very sad. We had learned that the health of the water in water is toxic. Because Baltimore is an old city, the sewage and water piles have not been upgraded. This means that some of the piles are made of wood which leaks into the harbor and others may have cracks in it. This has a huge impact on the environments health and the harbor region on top of the storm water run off and garbage.

There is some effort made to improve the health of the harbor like the rain water tax which all money will be used in upgrading the cities piles and drainage systems. This tax, however, does bring up controversy like every other law that is passed. People don’t want to spend any more money on the government even though it will benefit them. The water in the harbor is considered toxic which means it is off limit to the public to swim in. Some beaches down the river are temporarily closed due to pollution levels. Toxic waters aren’t the only thing that the harbor has to worry about environmental wise. Climate change is in effect and sea levels are rising. While we were out on the boat getting the tour, all the shore lines where made with docks and bulkheads which is not resistant to rising water levels. With this fear in the future, port facilities are starting to consider any actions to take.

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