Loading at port coal pier resumes following repairs


Ships have resumed loading coal at the port of Baltimore's main export coal pier after the repair of broken machinery used to unload rail cars.

The problems at the Consolidation Coal Sales Co. prevented the terminal from emptying rail cars that bring coal to Baltimore. Consolidated Rail Corp. reported last week that about 2,500 of its rail cars were waiting to unload coal in Baltimore. The inability of the railroad to deliver coal to the terminal also created a backlog of ships waiting to take on coal for delivery overseas.

The mechanical problems were resolved over the weekend, and dumping of the rail cars and loading of the ships has resumed.

Rex Wheeler, vice president of Southern Steamship Agency, said that the rail car dumping machinery is back in operation. "They knocked out about 700 cars [Monday]," he said.

"It's pretty well over," he said of the interruption of ship loading operations.

One ship was loaded and left Sunday. Another ship began taking on coal Sunday and has since left.

C. Richard Foster, a vice president of John S. Connor Inc., steamship agents and freight forwarders, said seven ships were at anchor Monday, waiting their turn at the coal terminal.

Mr. Foster estimated that the backlog of waiting ships could be cleaned up in about a week, "if all goes well."

Mr. Wheeler said that by the end of the week, the shortage in rail cars also will be over and Conrail will once again be able to send empties to the mines that need them to resume shipments.

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