Cargo handled by port falls 7.3% 3-day strike on docks in January blamed

December 05, 1990|By Michelle Singletary | Michelle Singletary,Evening Sun Staff

General cargo handled by the Port of Baltimore declined by 7.3 percent in the third quarter compared with the same period last year and fell 12.2 percent for the year to date. All of the state's terminals except the Toyota terminal showed declines.

For the third quarter, general cargo tonnage at state-owned docks in Baltimore fell by 95,044 tons, according to statistics released this week by the Maryland Port Commission, the policy-setting board that oversees the Maryland Port Administration.

For the first nine months, general cargo fell 512,743 tons below the 1989 period.

Bruce Cashon, director of marketing, told the Maryland Port Commission on Monday that much of the decrease stemmed from a three-day waterfront strike in January. Because of that strike, cargo through state terminals dropped 25.3 percent in that month, he said.

Since that strike, cargo statistics have been getting better, he told the commissioners.

The decline in container tonnage also reflected the diversion of cargo to Norfolk by Maersk, the large Danish shipping line, Cashon said. That change started late last year.

Cashon's report was received without comment by the commissioners.

The report comes just as the unionized cargo clerks struck for two days against the waterfront management. The clerks settled yesterday. In recent years, the Baltimore port has struggled to overcome an image of labor-management troubles. In fact, the Port of Hampton Roads at Norfolk, Va., has lured away thousands of tons of cargo.

Total imports at the Port of Baltimore delined by 6.6 percent and the number of exports declined 8.2 percent for the third quarter. For the nine-month period, imports declined by 11.7 percent and exports decreased by 12.8 percent.

General cargo -- goods not handled in bulk -- includes autos, steel and consumer merchandise carried in standardized shipping containers. It is highly sought by ports because of the waterfront jobs it creates.

For the third quarter there was a total decline in the handling of containers, lumber and steel. Container cargo fell by 10 percent, ZTC lumber a whopping 46.6 percent and steel 20.6 percent.

Autos bearly registered growth with a 0.1 percent increase for the third quarter.

Bulk cargo such as coal or oil showed an increase of 10.5 percent.

For the nine months, container cargo fell 9.3 percent, autos, 19.6 percent, lumber, 34 percent, and steel, 55.7 percent. Bulk cargo increased a modest 2.4 percent.

The North Locust Point terminal showed a significant decrease in cargo tonnage. The terminal reported a decrease of 45.3 percent down to 43,783 tons from 80,027 handled for the same period in 1989. The South Locust Point terminal also declined in cargo tonnage by 8 percent.

At the Dundalk Marine Terminal, Baltimore's biggest, general cargo was off by 6.3 percent compared to the third quarter in 1989.

The only terminal that showed growth was Toyota with an increase of 29.6 percent over the third quarter last year. However, for the nine-month period, shipments of autos and parts over the terminal were down 17.8 percent by ton.

For its first quarter since opening, the Seagirt Marine Terminal handled 15,181 tons of cargo.

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