Proposed Columbia River coal traffic would be less than Kanawha - Business, Government Legal News from throughout WV

Proposed Columbia River coal traffic would be less than Kanawha River's

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Were all five ocean ports and one river port built in Oregon and Washington, an additional 160 million tons of coal a year could move through those two states. Most of that would move by rail, although that amount includes about 9 million tons that would move on the Columbia River in covered barges.

People in industries involved in developing the ports say they do not expect all of them to be built or to handle that much coal, as the market probably wouldn't support that amount.

The proposed ports are at Longview, Cherry Port and Grays Harbor, Wash., and Coos Bay and the Port of St. Helens, Ore. The river port would be the Port of Morrow at Boardman, Ore.

The river proposal to haul 9 million tons annually involves less coal than moves on either the Ohio or Kanawha rivers in West Virginia. For comparison, in the first half of this year, about 8.2 million tons of coal moved through the Winfield Locks and Dam on the Kanawha River. About 23.4 million tons moved through the Robert C. Byrd Locks and Dam on the Ohio River near Point Pleasant in the same time.

For another comparison, the Columbia River barge proposal would average to about 750,000 tons of coal per month. One of the busiest locks on the Columbia is at Bonneville, and it handled a total of nearly 1.1 million tons of traffic in August. Winfield handled a total of about 1.45 million tons, and Robert C. Byrd handled about 4.26 million tons.

Most coal hauled on water on the Ohio and Kanawha is in uncovered barges. The Columbia River proposal specifies that all barges would be covered.

Railroads in the Northwest say carloads of coal would be sprayed with a material to minimize losses due to dust.

Many communities, though, are also concerned about the increase in rail traffic that coal shipments would bring.


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