Cement shipments flowing again at Port of Everett

By Dan Catchpole Herald Writer

EVERETT — After five years of inactivity, the cement plant on the waterfront is operating again.

Longshoremen at the Port of Everett spent eight days last month unloading 32,000 tons of cement from the Loch Melfort, a bulk carrier, using a vacuum and conveyer belt system.

The cement is distributed by Lehigh Hanson.

“We have seen an increase in cement demand over the past two years and as a result we have resumed our operations at the terminal,” said Jeff Sieg, a spokesman for the Texas-based company. “Initially, we expect volumes to be lower than capacity, but we will ramp up operations to meet the needs of our customers as the economy continues to recover.”

The cement is being held in the massive dome on port property that can hold about 60,000 tons of it.

Lehigh Hanson leases the facility from the port. The company, a subsidiary of Heidelberg Cement, signed a 20-year deal with the port in 2006. But it mothballed the site in 2009 due to the recession and a sagging construction market.

“The return of the cement shipments is a sign that we are finally on the upswing after such a long period of economic downturn,” the port’s executive director, John Mohr, said in a statement. “While the construction activity in the region hasn’t reached pre-recession levels, we are encouraged by the return of the shipments.”

The Port of Everett’s cement operations help support about 35 jobs at the port, many with the Longshoremen’s union, and another 100 jobs moving the material by truck, rail and ship, according to the port.

The bulk storage dome was previously used to hold alumina ore. After Lehigh Hanson signed its lease, about $20 million was spent converting and upgrading the site for cement operations, the port said.

Dan Catchpole: 425-339-3454; dcatchpole@heraldnet.com; Twitter: @dcatchpole.