Friday, April 27, 2012

Port of Tacoma Contemplating Bulk Goods Terminal

A former aluminum smelter that’s been closed for over a decade at the Port of Tacoma could be transformed a bulk export terminal, according to port CEO John Wolfe.

Wolfe, in an April 24 interview with the Tacoma News Tribune, said that the 96-acre former smelter site, which is located at the northeast end of the port’s Blair Waterway, could eventually become the location of a bulk export terminal that could ship raw materials such as iron ore and potash.

The smelter, which was built during World War II and has been closed since June 2000, was bought by the port in 2003 for $12.1 million.

The bulk terminal, Wolfe told the newspaper, is part of a strategy to diversify the port’s business beyond traditional containerized goods import. As part of the strategy, Tacoma is looking as widening the Blair Waterway to more easily handle the larger ships calling at container and bulk terminals, Wolfe said.

Although there’s been interest, no customers have yet signed up to use the proposed bulk terminal, Wolfe told the paper.

One material the port’s already ruled out exporting, however, is coal. This, Wolfe said, is due to various reasons, including ongoing resistance to other planned coal terminals in the Pacific Northwest by environmental groups.

Another possible venture the port is looking into, Wolfe said, is bringing in crude oil from North Dakota by train, then distributing it via tankers and barges to various West Coast refineries.