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Charleston breakbulk volumes surge on back of investment

October 18 - With a USD23 million improvement project at its Columbus Street Terminal completed, the South Carolina Ports Authority (SCPA) reports a surge in non-container cargo at the Port of Charleston.

The first major phase of the project to improve the storage yard and enhance rail infrastructure was finished in March. In those seven months, Columbus Street Terminal's non-container cargo totalled 371,824 tonnes (362,952 tons), a six-fold increase from 53.6279 tonnes (52,781 tons) last year.

"Columbus Street Terminal has obviously become a critical asset for cargo operations," said Jim Newsome, president and CEO of the SCPA. "With great facilities, excellent oversize rail clearances and skilled labour, Columbus Street Terminal is one of the premier ro-ro, breakbulk and heavy lift terminals on the US East Coast."

Driven largely by the growth at Columbus Street, total breakbulk tonnage in the Port of Charleston is up nearly 80 percent in the first quarter of the fiscal year, which began July 1. The SCPA handled 237,990 tonnes (234,232 tons) of breakbulk and bulk cargo at its terminals in Charleston from July to September, up from 132,315 tonnes (130,226 tons) in the same period in 2010.

Calendar year-to-date, breakbulk tonnage is up 39 percent, with 619,457 tonnes (609,674 tons) handled in 2011 and 445,378 tonnes (438,344 tons) in 2010.

"Growth in the non-container segment is good for waterfront jobs, and it also provides a valuable service to major South Carolina employers and industries," said Newsome, referring to the power generation shipments that are large users of Columbus Street Terminal.

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