With the installation of a new ship loader, removal of an outmoded structure and dredging alongside the docks, Kinder Morgan’s soda ash export facility at the Port of Portland’s Terminal 4 will boost efficiency and set the stage for growth. The work is now underway, and slated to be complete in September.
Soda ash, also known as trona, is used in the manufacture of glass and detergents, and it is exported through Portland to countries around the world. It is mined in Green River, Wyoming – home of the largest known naturally occurring deposits in the world.
The high quality product arrives in Portland loaded on unit trains of over 100 cars in length, where it is then stored in a covered structure until it is loaded onto bulk cargo ships via a ship loader conveyor system. That ship loader portion of the conveyor system is being replaced by a state of the art, high capacity loader that will increase productivity and overall efficiency.
Kinder Morgan has managed soda ash export operations at Terminal 4 since 1998 – and under a different name when the mineral bulk facility was originally constructed in 1987. The product is exported by ANSAC, which stands for the American Natural Soda Ash Corporation. ANSAC is the largest soda ash exporter in the world, operating as the sales, marketing and logistics arm for three leading producers of natural soda ash in the United States.
When negotiating a 10 year lease extension with two five year options, effective January 1, 2013, Kinder Morgan committed to purchase and install the new ship loader at Terminal 4. This private investment is estimated to total $9.5 million.
In February, Port Commissioners also voted to award a $715,000 contract to Advanced American Construction, Inc., for the removal of an antiquated Dravo bulk unloader at Terminal 4 and a pair of outmoded cranes at Terminal 6. Previously used for unloading bulk products, the Dravo has not been used since the mid-1990s. On the morning of April 20, it collapsed as crews were dismantling the structure, but thankfully nobody was injured. Removal of the massive equipment eliminates a liability and increases the usable footprint for the operation.
In September, maintenance dredging is scheduled at the ship berths to allow unimpeded access for ships leaving the terminal fully loaded. Since 2008, about 5,000 cubic yards of new sediments have accumulated to the degree that its 40-foot operating depth is close to being compromised. This work is being conducted under contract by the Port, per the Port’s lease agreement with Kinder Morgan.
These projects follow the recent completion of road and rail projects in Rivergate Industrial District, as well as hundreds of millions of dollars in private investment at port facilities up and down the Columbia/Willamette river system. The Port recently announced plans by tenants to expand facilities at the Auto Warehousing Company facility at Terminal 6 and the Columbia Grain facility at Terminal 5.