Jax Shipping Terminal Waiting In The Dark

August 10, 2011 4 comments Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article

A look inside the remains of what was once billed as Florida's fastest-loaded phosphate rock terminal: PCS Phosphate - White Springs, Jacksonville Bulk Terminal Wharf.

The Beginning

Occidental Agricultural Chemicals Corporation's phosphate terminal and wharf shortly after opening in 1966.

The Talleyrand phosphate operation opened in 1966 and was billed as "Florida's fastest-loaded phosphate rock terminal," with a loading capacity in excess of 3,000 tons per hour. Phosphate rock mined 68 miles northwest of Jacksonville in White Springs, FL would be shipped to the terminal via rail and loaded into ships for transport to other countries.

Phosphate Terminal Opens New Northern Florida Industrial Opportunities

Speaking of industrial development and expansion along the lines of the Southern System during 1966 as we do in this issue, the year saw another chapter written in the story of industrial development of Northeastern Florida.

Climax of the chapter was the opening in the Spring of 1966 of the $3 million automated phosphate rock, triple super phosphate and diammomium phosphate shipping terminal at Jacksonville, Fla., by the Occidental Agricultural Chemicals Corporation (Oxy).

Situated on a 23-acre parcel of land leased from the Southern Railway, the terminal is on the St. Johns River, some eighteen miles from the Atlantic Ocean. Part of a $55-million complex that includes a phosphate mine and processing plant located at White Springs, 68 miles northwest of Jacksonville, the shipping terminal is billed as "Florida's fastest-loaded phosphate rock terminal," with a loading capacity in excess of 3,000 tons per hour.

Located at the terminal are six concrete storage bins, each 40 feet in diameter and 110 feet high, each holding approximately 5,000 tons of phosphate in storage for export; a car unloading facility, which handles two 100-ton hopper cars at a time unloading on a 48-inch conveyor belt, carrying material directly to a loading ship or to the storage bins at the rate of 2,000 tons per hour; and a mooring facility. The channel alongside the mooring facility was dredged to a depth of 37 feet.

A 54-inch conveyor belt takes phosphate from the storage bins, through a transfer tower, to the ship loaders. The system is so designed that the ship can be loaded partially from th6 car house and silo at the same time, or from two silos, in order to supply the required blend.

The ship loaders, two in number, service the vessels via a retractable conveyor reaching 54 feet across the beam of the ship. The mooring facility will accommodate vessels up to 675 feet in length.

The terminal is designed to handle outbound phosphate shipments only, with no provisions for unloading of bulk material from ships. The reason for this, according to an Occidental spokesman, is that when the terminal reaches its planned output of more than 1,000,000 tons per year, it would make handling inbound cargoes difficult. First shipment from the terminal was made in early summer of 1966.

The Jacksonville terminal, along with the development of the mine and plant complex at White Springs, has brought a new industry to northeastern Florida, particularly in the White Springs area where little or no industry existed before. For years, phosphate has been mined in the central region of Florida, but Occidental's is the first, and only, large-scale commercial development in the northeast area. Phosphate is in world-wide demand for fertilizer and agricultural chemicals.

The coming of Occidental to northern Florida is a real stimulus to the area's development, according to business and civic spokesmen. The manager of the Jacksonville Port Authority said the terminal "opens a whole new era of industry," while the president of the Jacksonville Area Chamber of Commerce estimated the terminal would bring $20 million into the community each year.

Southern serves this developing northern Florida phosphate industry by providing efficient, low-cost service between the mine and plant at White Springs and the shipping terminal in Jacksonville. Using 100-ton covered hopper cars to carry the phosphate, Southern carries anywhere from a few cars each day to entire unit trains from mine to shipping terminal. Southern also carries other shipments of phosphate and phosphate products from the mine and plant for delivery throughout the United States, Canada and Mexico.

The Jacksonville shipping terminal is indicative of how Southern's efforts work to aid industry in an area it serves by providing development sites on which industry can construct new plants or needed facilities, and by providing industry with fast, efficient railroad service that benefits Southern and the industries Southern serves.

Terminal in 1977.

Ceasing Operations

In 1995, Occidental Chemical sold the terminal and its related White Springs mining operations to North Carolina-based PCS Phosphates for $291.5 million.

About PCS
PotashCorp is the world’s largest fertilizer company by capacity, producing the three primary crop nutrients – potash (K), phosphate (P) and nitrogen (N). As the world’s leading potash producer, we are responsible for about 20 percent of global capacity.

With operations and business interests in seven countries, PotashCorp is an international enterprise and a key player in meeting the growing challenge of feeding the world.

In 1999, four years later, PCS would shut the Jacksonville terminal down in response to world phosphate market conditions after 33 years of operation.  At the time of closure, the Jacksonville terminal employed nine people.  With the Jacksonville closure, PCS consolidated their phosphate export distribution system through Morehead City, NC, which was said to serve their global customers more efficiently and economically.
Source: http://www.potashcorp.com/news/93/

PCS Phosphate Terminal Today

Today, what was once Florida's fastest-loaded phosphate rock terminal awaits redevelopment in eerie silence.

Jacksonville Terminal Statistics

Facility Name: PCS Phosphate - White Springs, Jacksonville Bulk Terminal Wharf

Owner/Operator: White Springs Agricultural Chemicals Inc. dba PCS Phospahte - White Springs

Railway Connections: One surface track extending through 2-car-capacity unloading shed joins 4-surface track with total capacity for fifty cars; connects with Georgia Southern and Florida Railway (Norfolk Southern Corp.).

Purpose of Wharf: Shipment of phosphate rock, phosphoric acid, and phosphatic products.

Remarks: Six concrete, phosphate-rock storage silos are located in rear; total capacity 20,000 tons (dical-cium phosphate). One 14-inch pipeline extends from wharf to six steel, phosphoric-acid storage tanks in rear; total capacity 13,000,000 gallons.

Location of Wharf: Left bank, St. Johns River, Jacksonville, along upper side of mouth of Long Branch Creek.

Waterway Mile: 17.9

Photos by nomeus via www.flurbex.com

Article by Ennis Davis.