Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Port of Coos Bay in Negotiations for Coal Terminal

The Port of Coos Bay is in talks with a shipper regarding the possibility of bringing a coal export terminal onto its property to export anywhere from six to 10 million thermal tons of coal annually to Asian countries.

The port hasn’t publicly revealed the name of the shipping company. Port CEO Jeff Bishop has said that such a terminal could aid in the funding of other regional developments, such as improvements to the Coos Bay Rail Link.

Railroad service was recently restored to the Coos Bay area, but according to a report by Bishop, the Coos Bay Rail Link would need “huge” capital infrastructure improvements before it could accept cargo trains on anything more than a very limited capacity.

“Any projections … regarding railcar volumes are premature, especially due to the traffic capacity constraints on the Coos Bay rail line,” the report reads in part. “The rail line has finite capacity. This differentiates us from other proposed coal terminals located alongside major railroads.”

Currently, the only coal export terminal on the West Coast is in British Columbia.

Environmental group the Sierra Club has already expressed opposition to the possible terminal, saying that the addition of mile-long coal trains would have an adverse affect on vehicular traffic, plus create environmental, safety and health hazards.

The arrival of one coal train per day would create 100 ship calls per year, Bishop said.