Chesterton Tribune


Gipson says dock wall collapse could affect operations; ArcelorMittal says it will not

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ArcelorMittal says that the collapse of a dock wall at its Port of Indiana facility on Tuesday will not affect operations.

Paul Gipson, president of United Steelworkers Local 6787, isn’t so sure.

The incident occurred early Tuesday morning, when the dock wall “collapsed under the weight of the cargo that was being offloaded from a vessel,” according to a statement which ArcelorMittal released to the Chesterton Tribune today.

“There were no injuries as a result of the incident and there is no impact on production or our ability to serve our customers,” the statement said. “Additionally, the waterway is navigable, with no impact on Port of Indiana operations.”

“No damage has been reported to the vessel,” the company added. “We are currently waiting for the U.S. Coast Guard to perform inspection of the vessel. The material was contained to the dock surface and did not enter the waterway. As a precautionary measure, ArcelorMittal has notified the appropriate agencies of the incident.”

Gipson, for his part, told the Tribune that the dock collapse could very well impact shipments to customers, both of plate and coils. “It could affect shipping out. Anytime you ship by rail or truck it’s going to be more expensive and time consuming,” he said. “Lake Michigan is one of the big reasons why this plant was built here in the first place. It’s going to take awhile to get it back to normal.”

More to the point, Gipson suggests that, based on information made available to him, the collapse was avoidable. For one thing, the ground beneath the dock was soft, Gipson said that he’s been given to understand, the result of ground water not being de-watered from the site.

And, Gipson also said, the dock hadn’t been maintained. “They’ve been aware of the wall not being 100 percent for some time. It got neglected, procrastinated, whatever.”

Gipson compared the collapse of the material being offloaded like that of a volcano on eruption. A whole side of the mound just sheered off, he said, and slid beneath the ship, raising up the vessel by three feet and pinning it against the wall.

Posted 9/26/2012