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American Shipper

New Jersey port considering big expansion

New Jersey port considering big expansion

The South Jersey Port Corp., which operates marine terminals in Camden, N.J., across the Delaware River from Philadelphia, is planning an ambitious expansion.

   The port has begun work on a new breakbulk terminal at a 190-acre site in Paulsboro, N.J., and is also investigating two other sites along the Delaware River at shuttered DuPont chemical factories.

   Joseph A. Balzano, executive director and chief executive of the port authority, said the port is just beginning topographic and geotechnical work on the Paulsboro site, which is about eight miles south of Camden, where the South Jersey Port Corp. operates the Beckett and Broad Street terminals. Those two existing terminals have a combined 220 acres and handled 3.5 million tons of cargo in 2007.

   Balzano said the 2007 total is only about 300,000 tons short of the port’s record 2006 performance. Camden is largely a breakbulk and bulk port, and volumes were hurt by weakness in the construction business, which dampened demand for steel and other building materials, he added.

   South Jersey Port Corp. has a long-term lease on the Paulsboro property from the city and is trying to determine how best to configure the terminal, which it hopes to open by 2010. The first step is construction of a new overpass to connect the terminal to local roads.

   Balzano said the port has identified four or five companies that might be potential tenants.

   The port and the State of New Jersey are also in discussions with DuPont about acquiring one or two former factories — the former Repauno works in Gibbstown, about 14 miles south of Camden, and the Carney’s Point terminal, an additional 14 miles downriver. Both sites were used at one point to make explosives, though they have since been used for other products, said Tim Ireland, a DuPont spokesman

   Ireland said that of the two, the 1,400-acre Repauno site is closer to being ready for development, because more environmental remediation has been done and it has deeper water. But he said dredging and other improvements would be required before the former site could be used as a deepwater marine facility. Only about 300 acres of the site, which was once used for the manufacture of nitroglycerin and dynamite, can be developed. Most of the remainder is wetlands. It has 3,000 feet of river frontage and is served by the Norfolk Southern railroad.

   The Carney’s Point site will require more environmental remediation before it is ready for development, said Ireland. Water near the property is also shallow and would require more dredging. Formerly used to make gunpowder, the plant is adjacent to DuPont’s existing Chambers Works. It is smaller than Repauno and also contains considerable wetlands. It has about 150 acres that could be developed.

   DuPont has hired the real estate company CB Richard Ellis to market the Repauno property. Ireland said it has been attracting interest not only from the State of New Jersey, but also from private companies that are interested in some sort of port development.

   Balzano said his agency is planning the facilities based on the existing 40-foot channel, but he said if the main channel to the terminals is deepened to 45 feet, than the terminals would benefit from the deeper water.

   That deeper water is considered important to bring larger containerships to the port where the Philadelphia Regional Port Authority is planning a major new terminal, Southport, which would stretch southward from the current Packer Marine Terminal onto land that was formerly part of the Philadelphia Naval Yard. That project could boost container capacity in Philadelphia from 544,000 TEUs to 3.5 million TEUs.

   Earlier this year, the state of New Jersey voted to expand the board of directors of the South Jersey Port Corp. port from seven to 11 members, including the state treasurer or his appointee. ' Chris Dupin

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