Our Environment

Ports of Indiana

Community & Environment

“Going green” is much more than a slogan for the marine industry – it’s a way of life. Ever since the first rafts were floated down a river and the earliest ships set out to sea, water has provided efficient ways to move more cargo. Much of our nation’s cargo is moved by ships across the oceans and by trains or trucks across the country, and Indiana’s ports can provide a ‘green marine’ alternative for shipping freight by water right into the American Heartland. Ports of Indiana is committed to further improving the environmental impacts of its facilities and services to make sure the greenest form of transportation becomes even greener in the future.

Green Marine Certification

Ports of Indiana is a member of the bi-national Green Marine Environmental Program, a voluntary initiative dedicated to improving the industry’s environmental performance throughout North America.

Green Marine is first and foremost a voluntary commitment on the part of marine entities that have established improved environmental performance as a key priority. Members include domestic and international shipowners, ports and terminals, stevedoring companies and St. Lawrence Seaway management.

Green Marine is managed by Green Marine Management Corp., a not-for-profit organization, led by entities participating in Green Marine’s environmental program (voting members) and marine industry associations based in the U.S. and Canada (non-voting members).

Guiding Principles

Green Marine adheres to the principles of sustainable development – development that meets today’s needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs. Every entity that joins Green Marine agrees to follow these guiding principles:

  • demonstrate corporate leadership in the search for best environmental practices in accordance with a sustainable development approach;
  • carry out its activities in a responsible manner with a view to minimizing its environmental impacts;
  • aim for continuous improvement of its environmental performance;
  • develop and promote voluntary protection measures;
  • integrate sustainable development practices that are technically and economically achievable;
  • collaborate with governments and citizen groups in the progressive implementation of the action plans arising from the Green Marine Environmental Program.
Levels of Certification

Green Marine requires participants to adopt practices and technologies that will have a direct impact on operations and the environment. Member certification in the program is based on five different levels of performance criteria:

  1. Compliance with applicable regulations and adherence to Green Marine’s guiding principles
  2. Systematic use of a defined number of best practices
  3. Integration of best practices into an adopted management plan and quantifiable
    understanding of environmental impacts
  4. Introduction of new technologies
  5. Excellence and leadership

The Green Marine Environmental Program encourages participants to go beyond regulatory compliance and implement a process of continuous environmental improvement that will lead to excellence and leadership.

Sustainable Transportation Solutions

Going green when shipping cargo isn’t about eliminating trucks and trains; it’s about helping businesses move goods in the cleanest and most efficient way possible for each leg of the trip. Each mode plays a critical role over the long haul and the last mile. Indiana’s ports provide companies with sustainable transportation solutions for moving cargo by trucks, railroads, river barges, lake vessels and ocean ships.

By leveraging two mighty waterways – the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River system – ships and barges can help reduce fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions associated with moving cargoes long distances across the country. Companies realize significant green benefits by shipping 1,000 truckloads of freight down the Ohio River with one towboat or loading 2,000 truckloads of cargo onto a Great Lakes vessel. Here are some findings from national transportation studies that compare the environmental impacts of moving freight by truck, rail and water.

 Environmental Comparison of Transportation Modes

The following data is based on comprehensive studies using regional averages and relevant cargoes.

Inland Waterways Cargoes

Fuel Efficiency

  • Ton-Miles/Gallon – Distance that one ton of cargo is moved by each mode on one gallon of fuel –
    • Barge: 647
    • Rail: 477
    • Truck: 145
  • The fuel efficiency of barge shipping exceeds rail by 36% and truck by 346%.

Air Emissions

  • Greenhouse gas emissions by mode in metric tons per million ton-miles –
    • Barge: 15.6
    • Rail: 21.2
    • Truck: 154.1
  • Greenhouse gas emissions from barge shipping are 26% less than rail and 90% less than truck per ton-mile.

Hazardous Material Incidents

  • Average number of large spills (>1,000 gallons) per year 2001-2014 by mode: Barge: 6; Rail 32; Truck: 147.
  • Average gallons spilled per year 2001-2014 in large spills (>1,000 gallons) by mode: Barge: 126,987; Rail 511,048; Truck: 629,509
  • Gallons of spills per million ton-miles by mode, 2001-2014: Barge: 2.12; Rail: 5.95; Truck: 6.04.
  • Volume of spills per ton-mile by barge is 64% less than rail and 65% less than truck. 

Source: A Modal Comparison of Domestic Freight Transportation Effects on the General Public: 2001-20014, Texas A&M Transportation Institute, Center for Ports and Waterways

Great Lakes Cargoes

Fuel Efficiency

  • Ton-Miles/Gallon – Distance that one ton of cargo is moved by each mode on one gallon of fuel –
    • Ship: 631
    • Rail: 553
    • Truck: 91
  • The fuel efficiency of Great Lakes ships exceeds rail by 14% and truck by 593%.

Air Emissions

  • Greenhouse gas emissions by mode in pounds per thousand cargo-ton-miles: Ship: 38.3; Rail: 45.5; Truck: 242.4.
  • Greenhouse gas emissions from Great Lakes ships are 16% less than rail and 84% less than truck per ton-mile.

Hazardous Material Incidents

  • Number of spills per year in U.S./Canadian waters (all vessel types): 14
  • Gallons of spills per year in U.S./Canadian waters (all vessel types): 990
  • For comparable data on other modes, see Inland Waterways data above.

Source: The Environmental and Social Impacts of Marine Transport in the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway Region, Research and Traffic Group; Marine Delivers

Making the Most of Our Resources

Indiana’s waterways and ports create significant environmental benefits by helping companies to recycle, reuse and buy local. Indiana’s waterways provide cost-effective transportation for moving low-value scrap materials to recycling facilities and ports offer a perfect home for these operations. Recycling waste or scrap materials allows companies to conserve energy and natural resources when creating marketable products.

Indiana’s ports create additional environmental benefits through cluster developments. By attracting complementary operations, the ports create synergies for businesses to share resources, local materials and reduce long-haul transportation impacts. Port businesses can transport cargo to customers within the port on heavy-haul roads and rail lines, as opposed to trucking them across the country or through heavily populated neighborhoods. Many companies choose to locate next to a customer or supplier at Indiana’s ports and often develop long-term relationships with many neighboring businesses.

Here are some examples of companies at Indiana’s three ports that are creating environmental benefits by making the most of their resources:

 Salvaging Slag from Steel Mills for Use in Road Construction
  • Phoenix Services: This Port of Indiana-Burns Harbor company recovers scrap iron and slag – byproducts from the steel-making process – from the nearby ArcelorMittal blast furnace. The slag is then carefully sorted and marketing as aggregate, which is used in road construction and various manufacturing processes. The recovered iron can be reused in the making of steel.
Creating Livestock Feed from Ethanol Byproducts
  • Valero Renewable Fuels Co: At the Port of Indiana-Mount Vernon, Valero Renewable Fuels Co. operates a large ethanol plant that ferments and distills corn into ethanol, a renewable bio-fuel. The process creates a byproduct called distillers dried grains, or DDGs, which can be processed and reused as a protein-rich additive for livestock feed.
Recycling Scrap Metals into New Steel           
  • OmniSource: One of North America’s largest processors and distributors of scrap and secondary metals is located at the Port of Indiana-Jeffersonville. OmniSource recycles almost all of the steel scrap generated at the port, collects the material and sends it by rail to one of its processing facilities. OmniSource processes 7 million tons of ferrous scrap per year at over 70 facilities throughout North America.

Partnering for a Better Environment

Ports of Indiana takes great pride in recognizing the ongoing efforts of port partners that help keep our communities and our ports green. We have an extraordinary group of world-class companies at our three ports that take great pride in running successful businesses and being sound corporate citizens within their communities. Here are some examples of what Indiana’s port partners are doing to help the environment:

FMT implements environmental policy

Federal Marine Terminals (FMT) has committed to making the blue seas ‘greener’ by establishing a formal environmental policy that outlines methods to reduce the environmental impact of moving cargoes. FMT serves as the general cargo stevedore at the Port of Indiana-Burns Harbor. This initiative includes a “no-idling” policy applying to the company’s equipment as well as trucks loading cargo at FMT’s facilities, a spill-management plan designed to avoid runoff of hazardous materials into nearby waterways and a reduction of dust emissions by covering or spraying bulk cargoes.

MG Rail reduces emissions with hybrid locomotives

Ports of Indiana partnered with MG Rail and the Indiana Department of Environmental Management to secure $200,000 in grant funding through the Clean Ports USA program to purchase ‘hybrid’ rail equipment at the Port of Indiana-Jeffersonville. The new equipment included two locomotive “slugs” and four auxiliary power units (APUs) for use by MG Rail, the port’s shortline rail operator. When the equipment was first used in 2008, MG Rail reduced fuel consumption by 23 percent (16,000 gallons) in six months. IDEM calculated that the diesel emissions from MG Rail’s switching operations at the port have been reduced by 24.8 percent by the new equipment.

Partnership drives hybrid patrol vehicle

Port of Indiana-Burns Harbor partnered with South Shore Clean Cities and the Northwestern Indiana Regional Planning Commission to secure a grant for an ultra-low emission security vehicle. The full-hybrid Ford Escape includes both a gasoline engine and a battery that self-charges by storing electricity generated when the brakes are engaged. The vehicle was secured in 2011 through a Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement Grant from the Federal Highway Administration and the Federal Transit Administration.

Funding Opportunities to Green Your Business

Ports of Indiana can help some entities pursue alternative sources of financing for certain types of projects that create environmental benefits for the ports and their local communities. The review process for this type of financing is extremely selective and limited to very few projects. Ports of Indiana does not maintain a comprehensive list of alternative sources, but here are a few programs that Ports of Indiana has worked with to develop and support ‘green’ projects:

Clean Cities Coalition: The Clean Cities program was established by the U.S. Department of Energy to improve air quality and reduce petroleum use throughout the country. The organization now has nearly 100 Clean Cities coalitions around the country that bring together public and private stakeholders to deploy alternative and renewable fuels, idle-reduction measures, fuel economy improvements and emerging transportation technologies. Contact Indiana’s two Clean City chapters to learn more:

  • South Shore Clean Cities  – Covers 18 counties across Northern Indiana, including the Port of Indiana-Burns Harbor region
  • Greater Indiana Clean Cities – Covers the Port of Indiana-Jeffersonville and Port of Indiana-Mount Vernon regions, as well as the southern two-thirds of Indiana

National Clean Diesel Campaign (NCDC) – This U.S. Environmental Protection Agency program promotes clean air strategies by working with manufacturers, fleet operators, air quality professionals, environmental and community organizations, and state and local officials to reduce diesel emissions.