Port of Olympia Commissioner E.J. Zita said the commission has been receiving more information about prospective ship visits, so she suggested that information be shared with the public.
But her fellow commissioners and the port’s marine terminal director pushed back during Monday’s commission meeting, saying the port already releases enough information about impending ship visits. Marine Terminal Director Len Faucher also cited a post-9/11 security plan that was developed by the Coast Guard for the port.
The port posts information about ship visits on its website and sends that information in an email blast to about 2,000 people who are curious about each new ship that calls on the port, Executive Director Ed Galligan said. The Olympian also receives that information. It typically includes a photo of the ship, as well as some basic information about length of stay, cargo to be loaded or unloaded, and the ship’s destination.
But Zita said the commission is now receiving information about the number of ships that are expected to call on the port in the next few months. She’d also like to see the port identify cargoes at the marine terminal, saying that people are asking about the piles of stuff on the terminal or are curious about what’s in the warehouse.
“It’s their port, and they want to know,” Zita said.
Faucher said the Coast Guard developed a facilities security plan for the port, and that plan is reviewed every year. Their recommendation is not to post detailed shipping information on the port’s website, he said.
Zita pressed for specifics, but Commissioner Joe Downing finally stepped in to offer an opinion.
“It’s really getting into internal business,” he said about disclosing more information about shipping. He also acknowledged that the commission is getting a longer-term view about ships.
“I have very little use for the information other than I’m glad we’re getting business,” Downing said.
Zita countered that it seems like an ordinary part of doing business.
“People just like to know what’s going on at a public facility — and this is a publicly owned facility,” she said.
Commissioner Bill McGregor said the port should stick with its current approach. If people are curious about each ship that calls on the port, they should pass along their name and email to receive those emails from the port.
The port sends out ship information about three or four days before a ship arrives, he said.
Zita appeared disappointed.
“We’re not going to share any information beyond that,” she said. “I get the message.”