The Port of Virginia is still looking for a tenant for its vacant Portsmouth Marine Terminal after Potash Corp. of Saskatchewan Inc., the world's largest fertilizer maker in terms of production capacity, eliminated the site as a possible location for a new sulfur melting plant.
The Canadian fertilizer giant scratched Portsmouth off its list after strong community opposition, the Virginian-Pilot
reported Jan. 19.
In a letter to Portsmouth Mayor Kenneth Wright published by the paper, the company said it would not follow through with a bid to the Virginia Port Authority to use the former container terminal for melting sulfur pellets and shipping them to another location in North Carolina to make fertilizer after representatives heard negative feedback at a community meeting. A spokesman declined to say what sites Potash Corp. is still considering.
Potash Corp. had promised that the $100 million plant would incorporate special scrubbers to make it odorless and it would comply with environmental regulations, the newspaper reported.
Last summer, Potash Corp. abandoned plans to build a sulfur-melting plant at the Port of Morehead City in North Carolina after a storm of protest from local residents and politicians.
The Virginia Port Authority has been trying since September 2010 to lease all or part of the Portsmouth terminal on the Elizabeth River for breakbulk, bulk, roll-on/roll-off or project cargo operations. Port officials consolidated container operations at the modern APM Terminals facility it now runs a couple miles upriver to improve efficiency.
The Portsmouth terminal is a drain on the port's operating budget without a tenant.
VPA spokesman Joe Harris said seven different types of companies have expressed potential interest in the industrial site. One of those includes a construction company involved in building a new harbor tunnel between Portsmouth and Norfolk that would use the available acreage for a few years to store equipment.
Other feelers have come from a company that would process and export wood chips to Europe, a salt importer, ro/ro carriers and a paper company looking to build warehouse space.
Harris said officials are optimistic a new tenant will be operating at the Portsmouth site by the beginning of summer. — Eric Kulisch