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OBPA's lack of unloading equipment hurts business

TIMES STAFF WRITER
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OGDENSBURG — A wood chips supplier claims the lack of special equipment at the Ogdensburg Bridge and Port Authority is costing the area business.


"The port authority of Ogdensburg has put up several obstacles in the path of Green Energy Resources, having delayed operations nearly a month already," Joseph C. Murray, president of Green Energy Resources, said in a statement Friday. "As a result, Ogdensburg has been losing out to Albany where Green Energy Resources has already commenced operations."


Last month, the OBPA board approved an agreement with Green Energy Resources, the New York City company supplying the wood chips, to handle and store the materials from June 3 until Dec. 31. The first shipment should go out by ship soon, Mr. Murray said.


This will be the first shipment of wood chips for the port in several years, OBPA Executive Director Wade A Davis said. Mr. Murray hopes to bring 30,000 to 60,000 tons through the port each month, which will be shipped to biomass power plants and wood pellet manufacturers in northern Europe. He expects the project to bring at least 10 jobs and about $20 million to growers and truckers in the area.


Mr. Murray said the main problem is the authority does not have a truck tipper, a platform used for lifting and unloading cargo trailers. The equipment could increase wood chip deliveries to the port from 500 to 1,900 tons per day, Mr. Murray said.


Mr. Murray has asked the port to purchase the piece of equipment, which costs between $100,000 and $300,000. Mr. Davis said providing the machinery is not the port's responsibility.


"This is a standard transfer, handling and storage agreement," Mr. Davis said. "Our contract does not have any stipulation that the OBPA provide a truck dump. That is strictly under the auspices of Green Energy Resources. It's not part of the contract agreement, nor was it ever promised or implied."


Without the truck tipper, the company plans to unload with about 15 walking-floor trailers that handle significantly less cargo.


"We've been helpful in many aspects of this project and put him in touch with individuals that have this type of equipment in the region," Mr. Davis said. "The need for specialized equipment has always come up, but it's always been negotiated through the contractual process, not through a press release after an executed agreement. At this point we're questioning whether Green Energy Resources is dealing in good faith with the authority."


Mr. Murray said the Port of Ogdensburg has been losing business to the Port of Coeymans, near Albany, but he did not estimate how many tons of chips are going downstate because of the lack of a truck tipper here.


Since the beginning of the month, Green Energy Resources has stored about 2,000 tons of wood chips at the Port of Coeymans, according to Stephen F. Kelly, vice president of the port. The facility, which also does not have a truck tipper, is under an agreement to handle and store wood chips for two years.


Green Energy Resources remains interested in the Port of Ogdensburg because of its proximity to a large number of wood chip suppliers that grow beech, birch, ash, maple and cherry trees, which are in high demand on the European market, Mr. Murray said.


Although Mr. Davis said he was unaware of the claim that the missing equipment was costing the port business until the press release was issued, he said he did not feel the project would be in jeopardy.


"Obviously there must be an issue there that we're not aware of," he said. "We'll be in touch with them to see if we can address the issue."

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