Uncertain future for Jasper Terminal
A plan to build a new container terminal in Jasper County, S.C., on the north shore of Savannah River appears to be in trouble.
Bill H. Stern, chairman of the South Carolina State Ports Authority, said in a letter last week to Alec L. Poitevint, chairman of the Georgia Ports Authority, that “I cannot, in good conscience, recommend that South Carolina continue to spend funds on this project ' ” The letter was reproduced on the Charleston Post and Courier Web site.
Plans by the two states to develop the Jasper Ocean Terminal (JOT) downriver from Savannah was announced with much hoopla in 2007 by then Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue and South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford. But Stern said since the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ release of the Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project last November, “a number of unsettling issues have emerged that have produced serious potential impacts” to the Jasper container terminal.
He pointed to “the extensive time that the JOT site is planned to be used for dredging spoil disposal — approximately the next 50 years — and the considerable navigational uncertainties related to resultant harbor capability in today’s environment where 50 percent of global ship capacity is post-Panamax in size.”
He said the terminal should only be pursued when the outcome of the Savannah harbor deepening project is known.
Last month, South Carolina State Sen. Larry Grooms, chairman of the Review and Oversight Commission on the South Carolina State Ports Authority, called the Army Corps study on deepening the Savannah River from 42 feet to 48 feet “unbalanced and unsound.”
However, groups such as the Georgia Ports Authority and the Lowcountry Economic Alliance — described as the “regional economic development arm of Jasper and Beaufort Counties, S.C. — have signed a resolution calling deepening of both Savannah and Charleston harbors “critical to the economic health” of both states.
Perdue and Sanford have since been replaced with new governors — Nathan Deal in Georgia and Nikki Haley in South Carolina — and the Post and Courier said both of the new governors “make no apologies for trying to put their respective states a step ahead in the battle for federal dollars to make their ports most attractive to shipping lines.” ' Chris Dupin