NORFOLK, Va., Sept. 18, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Norfolk Southern today commemorated the fiftieth anniversary of the original dedication of Pier 6, its coal transloading facility in Norfolk, with a ceremony at Lamberts Point, where the railroad has been transferring coal directly from rail cars to ships for export for 130 years.
Pier 6 was completed in July 1963 and formally dedicated Sept. 18 that year. It was designed and built primarily to load ships bound for steel mills around the world with high-quality, metallurgical coal from the central Appalachian coal fields. It was then, and remains today, the largest and fastest coal transloading facility in the Northern Hemisphere and continues to dominate the U.S. export coal market. Today's ceremony included remarks by Superintendent of Terminals Jeff Yates, retired Senior Vice President-International Bill Bales, retired Senior Piermaster Bob Welch, T. Parker Host CEO David Host, Norfolk Mayor Paul Fraim, Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell, and Norfolk Southern CEO Wick Moorman. "Pier 6 was an engineering marvel 50 years ago, and it still is today," Moorman said. "No facility in the world provides the level and quality of service to the global metallurgical and thermal coal markets that Pier 6 does. We have every expectation that it will continue to fill that very large niche for decades to come." Pier 6 is unique in its ability to blend coal from different sources to precise formulas as it is being loaded onto ships. It achieves this by dumping coal directly from rail cars into a conveyor system that feeds directly into ships' holds, in contrast to other facilities that store coal on the ground rather than in rail cars. This is a valuable service to receivers of metallurgical coal, who have exacting blend requirements and can receive the coal ready to use off the ship. Pier 6 also serves the thermal coal market.