Wednesday, December 11, 2013
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Containers at the International Marine Terminal in Portland.
Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer
Maine shippers were still waiting Tuesday for official word about the future of the service.
Harold Jones, traffic manager for White Rock Distilleries in Lewiston, imported tanks of grain alcohol from France through Halifax to Portland. It was more convenient and less costly to truck the alcohol from Portland than Boston, where it was shipped before the cargo service began.
"We're very sorry to see the service suspended and hope it can resume," he said.
"I'm not giving up on the port."
If another operator doesn't come forward, Jones said he will use Boston again for imports.
The AFL New England is anchored in Halifax Harbor, as lawyers and creditors decide the future of the ship and its cargo. It's unclear whether it could be leased to another operator.
The province of Nova Scotia has expressed strong interest in seeing the service continue. A few weeks ago, it approved a $500,000 loan guarantee for American Feeder Lines, aimed at attracting more New England-bound container business for the Port of Halifax. That loan was never completed, according to Canadian media reports.
The $200,000 loan by the Maine Port Authority was made in conjunction with Boston and Halifax, in an attempt to maintain the fledgling service in anticipation of more shippers. "We obviously were concerned about the slowness of the service growing," Henshaw said.
He said he plans to work with interested parties to try to save container service via Halifax. He also will explore the resumption of shipping to New York Harbor, with a federal maritime official who will visit Maine this week. The Marine Highway Program aims to reduce air pollution and truck traffic by moving freight off highways and onto nearby sea corridors.
Staff Writer Tux Turkel can be contacted at 791-6462 or at: firstname.lastname@example.org