River Terminal Moving Grain
by Steve Brown
LONGVIEW, Wash. -- In the four months since the EGT grain terminal resolved its dispute with the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, it has shipped about 1 million tons of bulk grain to Asian ports.
A fire in one of the facility's three conveyor towers in early April halted operations for one day and has slowed the loading process since then, Larry Clarke, CEO of EGT, said.
"We've had to move the ship up and back for the other two to reach the hold, so we have to slow down when we're shifting the boat."
He said he expects to have all three shiploaders operational by the end of June.
Aside from that glitch, operations have gone as expected. "We're still a startup operation, improving daily, weekly, monthly. One million tons is not bad for a startup operation."
Clarke said there have no repercussions from the labor disputes that put EGT in the news before it opened in February. "Once we signed the contract," he said, "they (Longshoremen) came here to work."
With 36 silos, a 4.7 million-bushel capacity and robotic car openers, the automated facility is designed to unload a 110-car train in four hours. EGT is not there yet, Clarke said, but it can unload a couple of trains a day.
Ships are turned around in about three days right now, "but our goal is a whole lot less than that, depending on type of grain," he said. "We should be able to do it in two days, but we're still learning the equipment."
Wheat, corn, soybeans and soybean meal from Minnesota and Nebraska on west to Oregon and Washington have been shipped to China, Vietnam and South Korea. EGT is also building three train loaders in Montana -- in Chester, Kintyre Flats and Carter. Two are ready for commissioning, and the third is 60 percent complete.
Clarke said the goal is "just to get better," especially for the busy harvest season from October to March.
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