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GUEST VIEWPOINT: Safety and Sustainability Through Strategic Corrosion Management

Buddy Reams, Chief Maritime Officer

Deterioration and corrosion can have a massive effect on a port’s safety, in addition to being debilitating to the bottom line and operations.

* By Buddy Reams, NACE International *

Port facilities are a critical component of the global maritime transportation system. Most already recognize its importance, having probably felt the impact of unavailable or closed port facilities when gas prices rise after a hurricane causes the closure of a port waterway. But it is not just uncontrollable weather events that create this kind of situation. The same effect is realized when all or even just part of a port facility is unusable and unsafe due to deterioration.

Most of our port infrastructure is manufactured with materials that are strong enough to do their intended jobs, yet still vulnerable to serious wear and tear. The constant risk of this deterioration isn’t always  acknowledged as readily as the risk of fire, operational injuries, equipment damage or other hazards, but the consequences can be as severe or greater. Because of this, the resulting impact to port operations can be debilitating. They are largely unplanned, constitute significant expense, and can result in lengthy down time.

Complicating the matter is the fact that incorporating corrosion mitigating measures into planning, design and construction is often considered a lower priority because its potential impact is unlikely to happen for many years. Therefore, often bare minimum attention is given to this risk up front and once the problem becomes visible, operators must start “chasing rust.”

The reality is that maintenance due to corrosion comes with a staggering price tag, almost $2.5 trillion U.S. dollars per year globally according to NACE International’s International Measures of Prevention Application and Economics of Corrosion Technology (IMPACT) Study. However, the use of existing corrosion control technologies can save up to 35 percent in corrosion-related maintenance costs, alone.

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