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Waterborne commerce in WV rebounds from 2009 lows

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Cargo moved on the Kanawha River in 2010 tied its 10-year high, while traffic on the Ohio, Big Sandy and Monongahela rivers declined, according to final figures released recently by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

The Big Sandy, which carries coal from docks in West Virginia and Kentucky and petroleum-based chemicals from the Marathon refinery at Catlettsburg, Ky., suffered the largest dropoff in traffic in the past 10 years, going from 24.2 million tons in 2001 to 11.2 million tons in 2010.

Among the information in the statistical tables:

  • Ohio River, 2010: 220.6 million tons. Ten-year high: 243.1 million tons in 2002. Ten-year low: 207.4 million tons in 2009.

  • Kanawha River, 2010: 22.2 million tons. Ten-year high: 22.2 million tons in 2001 and again in 2010. Ten-year low: 18.5 million tons in 2009.

  • Monongahela River, 2010: 20.9 million tons. Ten-year high: 38.2 million tons in 2002. Ten-year low: 20.9 million tons in both 2009 and 2010.

  • Little Kanawha River, 2010: 200,00 tons. Ten-year high: 400,000 tons in 2003. Ten-year low: 100,000 tons in 2006, 2007 and 2008.

  • Big Sandy River, 2010: 11.2 million tons. Ten-year high: 25.1 million tons in 2002. Ten-year low: 11.1 million tons in 2009.

While system traffic was not available for all five navigable rivers in West Virginia for 2011, the Corps did release information about traffic at the three locks and dams on the Kanawha River and the seven on the West Virginia part of the Ohio River.

Coal accounted for more than half the tonnage at all 10 locks and dams on the Ohio and Kanawha rivers. Traffic was up slightly on the upper part of the Ohio along the West Virginia border and down slightly along the lower part from 2010 to 2011. All three Kanawha River locks reported slight drops in traffic in 2011.