A dredged anchorage basin could be used as a sort of service station for ships.
An analysis of the site by John Cameron, Charleston Branch Pilots Association executive director, indicated that if the basin were deepened to accommodate more ships, it could be used to refuel the ships without having them dock and take up cargo-loading space.
That could mean $100 million more per year in fuel sales, Cameron concluded. The typical container ships buys $1 million to $2 million in fuel if refueling at the dock, he said.
Repairs could be made and supplies could be taken out to the ship while it is in the basin.
“These are Charleston businesses selling to ships,” Cameron said. Because of technology advances, barge refueling is relatively safe compared with decades ago, he said.
But there are risks. In 2006, the state of Washington adopted strict oil-transfer rules after a spill during the transfer of 4,700 gallons of heavy fuel oil.
The rules have dramatically cut down on the amount of fuel spilled, the state’s ecology agency reported.
A quart of oil can contaminate more than 100,000 gallons of water, the agency reported after a recent, largely contained spill.