updated 8/31/2010 7:47:30 PM ET 2010-08-31T23:47:30

HOUSTON, Aug. 31, 2010 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The Port Commission of the Port of Houston Authority authorized a $512,502 construction contract to Sullivan Land Services, Ltd. for maintenance dredging at Bayport Wharf No. 3 and approved a proposal to host the 2014 American Association of Port Authorities annual conference at its regular August 31 meeting.

In his monthly financial report, CEO Alec G. Dreyer said PHA saw a slowdown in July in its leading indicator cargo—container volumes—but consistent and strong improvement in its lagging commodities—particularly steel.

Steel continues to methodically improve, with a welcome increase in steel activity during July this year, in fact, the highest month for steel that PHA has seen since March 2009. 

He characterized PHA's performance over the past four months as symptomatic of the broader economy, with strong months alternating with some weak months – "as if the recovery can't quite get its legs underneath itself," he said.

At PHA's breakbulk facilities, ship arrivals were up a strong 27 percent over last year, and even though ship arrivals were down 3 percent at PHA's container facilities, overall year-to-date arrivals have improved by nearly 3 percent. 

"The good news for our local economy is that container tonnage is up a strong 8 percent year to date," Dreyer said. "The real vibrancy of this recovery will be measured by the last five months of this year. We expect overall growth in container tonnage for 2010 to end up in the high single digits by year-end."

Also at today's meeting, Jack Steele, executive director of the Houston-Galveston Area Council (H-GAC), officially presented its highest environmental partnership award to Port Commission Chairman James T. Edmonds on behalf of the Port of Houston Authority.  Recognized as an air quality leader in the region, PHA received the Houston-Galveston Area Council's Best All-Around Clean Air Leadership Award at its 2010 awards luncheon on August 19.  The Clean Air Action Program aims to reduce air pollution and assist the region in attaining compliance with federal air quality standards for ground-level ozone pollution.

GENERAL MATTERS

(Agenda O1) Commissioners approved a proposal to host the September 2014 American Association of Port Authorities Annual Conference in Houston, Texas. The American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA) is a trade association which represents more than 160 public port authorities in the Americas, and more than 335 sustaining and associate members.  The AAPA promotes the common interests of the port community, provides leadership on trade, transportation, environment and other issues related to port development and operations, and works to educate the public, the media, and local, state and federal legislators regarding the role ports play within the global transportation system.

The port authority is a longtime member of the AAPA, and port commissioners and staff have taken leadership roles in many of its activities, including during its annual conferences.  Attendees of AAPA national conferences generally include port executives, maritime industry customers, governmental officials and economic development leaders.

Hosting the meeting in September 2014 will coincide with the Houston Ship Channel's 100th anniversary, providing international exposure and greater visibility to the Houston Ship Channel and the Port of Houston.  The port authority last hosted an AAPA annual conference in September 1998.

ENGINEERING & REAL ESTATE MATTERS

(Agenda I1) Commissioners approved a $512,502 construction contract to Sullivan Land Services, Ltd. for maintenance dredging at Bayport Wharf No. 3.  A hydrographic survey of Wharf No. 3 indicated that silt accumulation has reduced the berthing depth at the wharf.  The required dredging volume is estimated to be 54,000 cubic yards.

The Port of Houston Authority owns and operates the public facilities located along the Port of Houston, the 25-mile-long complex of diversified public and private facilities designed for handling general cargo, containers, grain and other dry bulk materials, project and heavy lift cargo, and other types of cargo. Each year, there are more than 7,700 vessel calls at the port, which ranks first in the U.S. in foreign waterborne tonnage and second in overall total tonnage. The port authority plays a vital role in ensuring navigational safety along the Houston Ship Channel, which has been instrumental in Houston's development as a center of international trade. The Barbours Cut Container Terminal and Central Maintenance Facility are the first of any U.S. port facilities to develop and implement an innovative Environmental Management System that meets the rigorous standards of ISO 14001. The second recertification of those facilities in 2009 included an extension for the state-of-the-art Bayport Container Terminal. The port authority is the first port authority in the world to receive ISO 28000:2007 certification for its port police and the perimeter security operations at both the Barbours Cut and Bayport Terminals. Additionally, the port is an approved delivery point for Coffee "C" futures contracts traded on the New York Board of Trade's Coffee, Sugar & Cocoa Exchange. For more information, please visit www.portofhouston.com

To access the port's Web site photo gallery, please visit http://www.portofhouston.com/publicrelations/publicrelations.html and click the link for Port Authority Photo Gallery.

The Port of Houston Authority logo is available at http://www.globenewswire.com/newsroom/prs/?pkgid=720

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