Katrina Disrupts River Shipments

Friday, September 02, 2005
Disruptions are expected in some Indiana shipments of grain, steel, fertilizer, iron ore and minerals, according to a Ports of Indiana statement issued on Thursday, according to a report on Business First of Louisville. The New Orleans-Gulf Coast region is home to six of the top 15 tonnage ports in the nation, handling more than 500 million tons of cargo per year.

Indiana relies on these ports for transloading the state's shipments between river barges and ocean-going ships for international trade, the statement said.

Ports in New Orleans, Mobile, Ala., and Gulfport and Pascagoula, Miss., are closed to ships. River traffic is limited to tugboats, barges and recovery boats, but inspections and depth soundings are needed before the river can open to ships.

Because the Port of Indiana-Burns Harbor handles the disrupted cargos and can transload between ocean-going ships and river barges, there is potential for it to serve as a transshipment point from the north, much like New Orleans does from the south, the statement said.

Companies at Indiana's two Ohio River ports, Port of Indiana-Mount Vernon and Port of Indiana-Jeffersonville, known as Clark Maritime Centre, also are considering other options, including the use of rail, expanded storage capacity and alternative routes.

One option could include diverting ships to ports west of New Orleans for barge movement by way of the Intracoastal Waterway to the Mississippi River, the statement said. This route bypasses New Orleans by connecting to the Mississippi at Baton Rouge, La.

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