Potlatch Hopes to Start Barging Again Soonby Steve Jackson
Spokane Public Radio, Jan. 9, 2003
The Potlatch Corp. says it hopes to return to using barges on the Snake River to ship its paperboard products soon.
The company announced a few days ago that they were using trucks and rail to ship their products to Portland.
Potlatch spokesman Mike Sullivan says the move was made after delays originally caused by the dockworkers walk out last fall:
"When you have all the ports on the West Coast backing up shipping," he says, "it takes a while to sort out that system and get that system back to where it was before because of the backlog of ships waiting to be unloaded, etc."
Sullivan says those delays are still being felt, and the company decided to utilize alternative shipping in the form of trucks and rail. But he adds that the measure is only temporary, in part because of the increased cost.
"There are two factors," he says. "One is cost, the other is that because when you ship by rail and truck there is a lot more handling of the product. We have a higher degree of damage to the product and, as a result, we have customer dissatisfaction levels that go up."
Meanwhile advocates for removal of Snake River dams say the move by Potlatch and the effects on the Port of Lewiston demonstrate that rail and truck shipping are a very viable alternative to barging on the Snake.
Kel Macaboy is with the Save Our Wild Salmon coalition:
"The port of Lewiston has lost four jobs, four," she says. "That's pretty minimal in this transition, and if we look at the last couple of years with the really great salmon and steelhead runs, and the number of jobs that Lewiston is providing in the salmon and steelhead industry, I think Lewiston would be economically retarded to rely on the port to provide jobs when they could be taking complete advantage of salmon and steelhead runs and turning Lewiston into a really wonderful fishery year after year."
Farmers shipping grain are the major users of the barges on the Snake.
The river has been navigable ever since the Snake River dams were completed in the mid 1970's.
Shipping Wheat: Truck or Barge? by Ken Casavant
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