Savage Inland Marine: Spuds breaking just a rumor

Published 8:22 am Saturday, January 7, 2017

By Dawn Burleigh

The Orange Leader


Savage Inland Marine faced opposition again when an attorney for the citizens of the Bessie Heights Marshland spoke at Commissioners Court on Tuesday.

Brandon Barchus, of Houston, thanked the court for the support of the court for opposing the fleeing facility.

“The timing of the resolution sparked the GLO investigation,” Barchus said.

Savage is currently proposing to temporarily place up to four spud barges within an oxbow of the Neches River each using two 30-inch “spuds” to anchor the barge at the location. The Project’s 31.5 acres are located immediately adjacent to Port Neches, Jefferson County along the northern shoreline of the identified oxbow within Orange County. The project will be used to reduce surge from passing ship traffic and provide a mooring area for a barge fleeting operation. Furthermore, the project will allow Savage to develop ideal mooring solution and marine vessel traffic patterns to facilitate safe commerce, according to a letter from Environmental Resources Management who conducted the review.

“We have heard there are spuds breaking,” Barchus told the court during Citizens comments of the meeting.

The court is not permitted to discuss anything not currently on the agenda according to Texas Open Meetings Act.

“While the base of spuds can bend or break on occasion as a result of surges from passing ships or other reasons, this isn’t unique to our operations and, most importantly, we have never had a spud barge break free and float away or push into the bank,” Jeff Hymas, communications director of Savage Inland Marine, said. “We maintain our equipment to high standards and provide continuous monitoring of barges. Additionally, having the fleeting area in an oxbow off the main river channel reduces the risk of damage to spuds caused by surges from passing ships.”

Hymas also said cranes are used from time to time to reposition the spuds.

Barchus also raised concerned of ‘not if but when’ there is a hazardous waste spill in the waterways.

“While no products will be transferred within our fleet and a spill is extremely unlikely, Savage Inland Marine has a spill response plan and equipment to make sure we’re ready to respond immediately if a spill ever were to occur,” Hymas said. “The same can’t be said for other barges parked up and down the Neches River outside of a monitored fleeting area.”

An economic assessment by Impact DataSource estimated that Savage Inland Marine will provide $7.7 million in additional revenues with $3.8 million in net economic benefits to local taxing districts over the next 10 years. This means more money for Bridge City, Orange County, local schools and other public entities that will benefit from increased tax revenues. The proposed FINA fleet could also generate tens of thousands of dollars more each year for Texas schools through lease payments to the Texas General Land Office that go to the state’s Permanent School Fund.