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Collision disrupts Baltimore coal pier

THE closing of a collision-damaged CSX coal pier in Baltimore’s Curtis Bay may have a significant impact on regional coal traffic as the industrialized waterfront is expected to be out of commission for 3-4 months.

Justin Niessner
Collision disrupts Baltimore coal pier

CSX’s Bayside facility, which handles Cape size oceangoing coal vessels, was badly damaged Saturday when an oil/chemical tanker with tugs alongside missed its turn onto a connecting channel and collided with the pier and shiploader.

The company’s smaller Curtis Bay pier intended for Panamax was not damaged in the incident.

Inchcape Shipping Services noted that vessels scheduled to load out of Bayside would now have to load at a nearby pier with shallower draft possibly for most of the rest of 2012.

CSX said it was evaluating repair requirements at the pier and was working with customers on interim delivery alternatives.

No formal timeline for how long the repairs will take has yet been declared.

One employee was reported injured due to the incident but was released after only a brief hospitalization.

As CSX assesses repair and business interruption costs associated with the incident, the tanker has reportedly been cleared to continue toward Belgium after signing an agreement guaranteeing payment if the rail shipper wins a judgment.

According to a report by the Baltimore Sun, CSX pursued and won a court order to detain the vessel until its owner provided a “letter of undertaking” requiring payment in case of fault.

The Maryland newspaper cited Baltimore maritime law specialist David W Skeen on the legal ramifications.

“The issues are always going to be speed and engine orders and communications and whether they were properly understood between the pilot and the crew,” he said.

“And sometimes there are issues of whether there were enough tugs.”

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