Port of Longview OK's new lease for Bridgeview Terminal
Eight days after reaching a tentative deal with International Raw Materials, Port of Longview commissioners Wednesday agreed to enter a new five-year lease with the terminal operator, in what is expected to bring millions of dollars in new revenue and dozens of jobs to the port.
Commissioners Jeff Wilson and Doug Averett approved the lease as presented to the commission last week, but Commissioner Bob Bagaason abstained, citing concerns about the process being too rushed.
The commissioners gave the green light on the lease despite opposition from the local longshoremen’s union, which said it still has jurisdictional issues to work out with IRM.
“Once again we’re getting into an EGT-type situation,” said Billy Roberts, president of ILWU Local 21, referring to the union’s highly-charged battle over a lease with EGT in 2011, which lead to protests and several arrests. “At this time, we still have a lot of work to do … and we’re not in support of this project.”
IRM President Tip O’Neill said the company was committed to working with the ILWU to address any remaining concerns.
Commissioner Jeff Wilson said the lease explicitly states that IRM will have to honor the port’s working agreement with the ILWU.
“It was a good lease … staff worked tirelessly on this,” Wilson said. “This is (economically) good news for the community.”
Commissioner Averett didn’t go into detail about why he supported the lease, stating simply, “I think this is good for the port and good for the community.”
Under the deal, the port will make an additional $1.5 million to $2 million annually from Berths 1 and 2, now collectively called the Bridgeview Terminal. Currently, the Bridgeview Terminal isn’t breaking even.
In its first year of operations, IRM would guarantee that 250,000 metric tons of product would be shipped through the terminal. That would double in the second year, hitting 500,000 metric tons annually and possibly exceeding that minimum if IRM can attract more business. The company will handle pot ash, soda ash and other dry bulk commodities.
That level of volume could support more than 30 longshoremen jobs, although it’s possible that jobs number could be higher if the terminal is busier. According to a 2012 economic impact study of Berth 2, there are about 15 direct jobs supported for every 220,000 metric tons of cargo shipped at the dock.
“We’re committed to being a good neighbor, to running a safe operation and protecting the environment,” O’Neill of IRM said Wednesday.
IRM’s first ship is expected to dock next Tuesday.
Check tdn.com later for an update.