Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Shipbreaking in Brownsville, Texas

Special Projects

Chairman, Doc Sloan

ESCO Shipbreaking Site
Although most shipbreaking is done overseas, there are a few shipbreaking companies in the United States.  Ship breaking in the United States is booming at the moment, as congressional mandates to reduce the rotting hulks in the three Ghost Fleets of the nation are being implemented. These mothball fleets are composed primarily of US Maritime Administration (MARAD) reserve ships, initially kept in case they needed to be activated again for war. These reserve fleets started after WWII, the biggest ship-building boom in history. In 1950, there were over 2,000 surplus federal ships, tied together in slack water clusters around the nation.

ESCO is a ship breaking site in the USA located in Brownsville, Texas, just a few miles from Mexico. This is where the vast majority of the nation’s federal ships are broken apart. A 15 mile-long channel, made from scratch from 1934-1936, connects the Port of Brownsville to the ocean, at South Padre Island. Built inland to protect the port from hurricanes, not much occurs along the channel’s first ten miles.

ESCO is an active 88 acre yard full of scrap piles, metal processing machinery, cranes, and processing areas where larger chunks of the ship have been removed and are being cut down on shore with torches and other equipment. ESCO has salvaged former offshore rigs as well.

Center-Arranged Youth Tour of Avesta Sheffield Plant

Special Projects Chairman Doc Sloan put together a program on behalf of the Center in 1998 that sought to combine shipbreaking on the Patapsco River in Baltimore with a Welfare-To-Work component that included a steel plant in Baltimore County.  Unfortunately, the steel plant closed unexpectedly just as the program was about to launch.

The Center assisted Avesta Sheffiend Steel Company in addressing pollution issues at the site and took Baltimore inner city youth on a tour of the facility.

President Roy Cooke, Avesta Sheffield-East President is in green in the above photo, Joe Duncan, President of the United Steel Workers of America, Local 1245 is in the middle and Center President Norris McDonald is at right at the steel plant near Baltimore.(1998)

Doc Sloan is working with ESCO to explore unique entrepreneurial opportunities.  The Center stands ready to assist ESCO with environmental services and assessments at the site. (The Center For Land Use Interpretation

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