There was more activity at the Bellingham Shipping Terminal last week than there has been in the past two decades.
The 590-foot MV African Egret arrived at the Shipping Terminal and local longshore union (ILWU) workers quickly loaded the ship with 5.2 million board feet of forest products bound for China. As logs were being arranged for export, crews simultaneously removed organic grains from one of the terminal’s large warehouses and prepared it for shipment to local markets. The organic grains arrived from Turkey a few months ago on board the 590-foot MV Diana Bolten.
Creating jobs by restoring import/export business at the Shipping Terminal has been a strategic priority for the Port for a number of years. Global shipping has a strong job multiplier effect because of the labor needed, and wages in the industry are relatively high.
The use of the Shipping Terminal decreased significantly after Georgia-Pacific shut down its pulp mill in 2001, and new shipping opportunities were limited by historic contamination in the Whatcom Waterway. To reactivate the terminal, the Port recently completed one of the largest cleanup projects in state history and increased the navigation depth within the Whatcom Waterway.
Expanding numbers of workers at the terminal are a good indication the Port’s strategic investments have been well directed. The African Egret was loaded quickly despite multiple projects occurring at the same time, and there was plenty of dock space along the Port’s 1,250 foot deep water pier for crews to operate efficiently.