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Port operations steady as vehicle manufacturers halt

Staff Report //March 24, 2020//

Port operations steady as vehicle manufacturers halt

Staff Report //March 24, 2020//

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The S.C. Ports Authority says it does not expect any disruption or change to terminal operations as Volvo Car Corp. and BMW Manufacturing plan to cease production within the next two weeks.

The port exports vehicles through the Columbus Street Terminal in downtown Charleston. In February, the ports authority moved 18,156 vehicles.

Volvo said last week that it intends to temporarily halt production in Ridgeville starting Thursday; BMW plans to halt production at Plant Spartanburg on April 3. (UPDATE: BMW has announced it will now shutter production in Spartanburg on Sunday. /eds.)

S.C. Ports Authority President and CEO Jim Newsome said in a statement that while he expects the number of vehicles shipped to be impacted by the production halts, “The shipping and receiving of containers should remain normal.”

“We expect minimal impacts and plan no changes to our terminal operations,” he said. “We anticipate a return to normal when manufacturing operations resume.”

Newsome said in a video update on Friday that the S.C. Ports Authority is working hard to “keep the port fluid … but also at the same time emphasizing safe operations.”

He reiterated that the port expects volumes to be down in March and April by about 15% to 20% but that volumes should rebound in May and June.

Port COO Barbara Melvin said vessel and gate operations in Charleston and at the inland ports in Greer and Dillon are all operating as normal. She also said the port is taking steps to clean equipment and separate people whenever possible.

“We’re being smart about the way that we’re taking care of ourselves and others, not putting ourselves at risk, realizing the importance that we all have in the supply chain,” Melvin said. “Because we need to work so that you all can have goods flowing throughout the country.”