Weather, sequestration affecting metals transportation

Mar 26, 2013 | 07:00 PM | Bill Beck

Tags  U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Mississippi River, Missouri River, metals transportation, AEP River Operations, Waterways Council, Department of the Army, Federal Emergency Management Agency

The nation’s metals transportation sector breathed a sigh of relief in early March, when the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said that the Mississippi River near Thebes, Ill., had finally been widened and deepened enough to allow normal barge traffic up and down the river.

The Army Corps of Engineers has dredged more than 8 million tons of sediment from the narrow, constricted channel between Cape Girardeau, Mo., and Cairo, Ill., since last summer. Lower-than-normal snow melt in the winters of 2010-11 and 2011-12 and drought conditions last summer dropped river levels near Thebes to the point where the Army Corps restricted passage through the stretch and seriously considered halting barge traffic altogether in late 2012.

Commodities shipped on the Mississippi River and adjacent inland waterways include finished steel and aluminum, scrap, ferroalloys and metallurgical coal.

“As most people have heard, the persistent drought in the Midwest is challenging the navigation industry,” AEP River Operations noted recently. “River conditions are predicted to remain low for the immediate future. AEP River Operations will continue to evaluate and make operating adjustments as necessary.”

St. Louis-based AEP River Operations, a barge company that offers customers in the steel and other dry bulk industries a fleet of more than 3,220 covered hopper barges operating throughout the inland river system, moved more than 80 million tons of cargo in 2012.....





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