'Our wharves appear to be intact and able to conduct cargo operations'

Sep 02, 2005 | 07:22 AM | Philip Burgert

At the close of last week, damage to the Port of New Orleans appeared to be less than some metal traders and port officials originally feared, although it remains uncertain how soon workers will be able to return to the port, make repairs and restart operations.

Logistics managers at metal trading companies said they were still assessing whether to shift shipments scheduled to move through New Orleans to ports in Houston, Tampa, Fla., or even as far away as the Great Lakes. Such moves would likely entail extra costs and delayed deliveries, they said.

Some said that even if New Orleans' facilities were found to be more severely damaged by Hurricane Katrina and the flooding that followed in its wake, there was still a possibility that mid-river discharges or transfers of steel and other metals onto barges might allow shipments through the port to continue.

"I think the real issue will be people," said Simon Golding, vice president of logistics for Arcelor International Americas, New York. "When and if the river opens, the question will be where are all the tugboat operators, where are all the people that make the systems work? If the people aren't there it's not going to work."....

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