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South Carolina Ports Agency Takes Proactive Measures to Protect BMW Exports from Damage

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South Carolina Ports Agency Takes Proactive Measures to Protect BMW Exports from Damage

In a bid to protect BMW vehicles stored at its waterfront Columbus Street Terminal in Charleston from water damage, the S.C. State Ports Authority (SPA) is embracing potent solutions. The low-lying sites along the Cooper River face threats of flooding during significant rainstorms and high tides. The measures are a response to the damage sustained by hundreds of automobiles in a December incident at Union Pier Terminal, less than two miles away from the Columbus Street Terminal.

However, neither SPA nor BMW has confirmed whether any of the vehicles, which originate from the German automaker’s Upstate plant, have suffered similar damages while awaiting export at the Columbus Street Terminal’s end.

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Upcoming Backup Storage for BMWs

This April, the SPA board approved an expenditure close to $2 million to pave 18 acres at the Leatherman Terminal, located on the former Navy base in North Charleston. This development is part of the efforts to create a backup storage area for BMWs when looming big storms herald potential damage to the cars. The terminal will be stationed behind the current container yard, significantly distanced from the waterfront. Walter Lagarenne, SPA’s vice president of engineering and facilities, disclosed that the project should conclude by May’s end.

A University of Tennessee study revealed that an 18-acre parking lot could typically accommodate between 2,700 and 2,900 vehicles, depending on its layout.

SPA’s Other Protective Measures

Aside from creating a backup storage area in the Leatherman Terminal, SPA has initiated more steps to protect BMW and other export vehicles at the Leatherman and Columbus Street Terminal. Protective measures include the installation of tide valves and the procurement of pumps to help move water off the parking area at the peninsula terminal.

Further, SPA has performed a comprehensive survey of the site to pinpoint regions with a high likelihood of flooding occurrence and has marked those regions with paint to prevent vehicle storage there. The agency has also purchased AquaDams, which are temporary removable barriers with the capacity to control or divert water, constructing an additional line of defense against flooding reaching the vehicles.

SPA’s Stance on the Handling of Automotive Sector

Barbara Melvin, SPA’s president and CEO, highlighted the substantial investments made by the State into the automotive sector and the significant contributions automakers have made to expand their operations. She underscored SPA’s proactive approach to investing in port infrastructure, thereby providing the capacity and operation excellence to support the global supply chains of its customers, aiding the growth of their businesses.

Through a statement, BMW affirmed its strong relationship with SPA and reiterated its commitment to working together with them to mitigate the impacts of any weather events.

New Developments in Green Aluminum

As part of its push to promote green energy initiatives, last week, the Biden administration awarded a $500 million grant to Chicago’s Century Aluminum to construct a new low-carbon metal-making factory. The Century Aluminum smelter near Goose Creek, currently celebrated as the most modern of its kind and the newest in the U.S., previously held this distinction. Century Aluminum will potentially use renewable hydroelectric power for the new smelter, which is expected to be built at a site within the Ohio and Mississippi River basins and create over 1,000 full-time jobs. Its construction timeline remains unannounced.

The Berkeley County plant, currently operating at 75 percent capacity due to its dependence on Moncks Corner-based Santee Cooper for electricity, is considering plans to boost production. The Moore School of Business recently revealed that the smelter contributes nearly $773 million annually to the South Carolina economy.


South Carolina Ports Agency Takes Proactive Measures to Protect BMW Exports from Damage

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