The Port of Eastport in Maine is on the cusp of completing an expansion that will cater to woody biomass demand in Europe. It will be the first port in the Northeast U.S. with the infrastructure in place to do it.
The deepest and easternmost natural seaport in the continental U.S., Eastport represents a prime location for exports to Europe and in 2009 saw the opportunity to be the marquis U.S. port serving that market, according to Chris Gardner, the port’s executive director. “Back in ’08 and ’09, we saw off on the horizon that this was going to be a market that was going to explode and we looked up and down the coast of the Eastern United States and said … there’s an opportunity there.”
At its lowest running tide, the port has 65 feet of water at its berth and its approach channels are all over 100 feet with no dredging. The expansion includes a bulk storage yard and bidirectional conveyor capable of handling both imports and exports. Initially, the infrastructure is prepared to handle mostly wood chips, but Gardner said it will soon be updated again with automated pellet storage. “We’ve made the design implementations that we have a stage two of the rocket, so to speak, and that’s the pellet industry.”