Home Career Wood pellet company Enviva cuts ribbon in Pascagoula as railroad strike looms

Wood pellet company Enviva cuts ribbon in Pascagoula as railroad strike looms

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PASCAGOULA — A dry cargo ship packed with 47,000 tons of Mississippi-made wood pellets is ready to depart for Japan on Wednesday as state leaders gather to celebrate the upcoming deployment.

The pellets, intended to be burned instead of coal, arrived at the Port of Pascagoula by train from George County. Enviva, a wood pellet company, is the port’s newest partner and first started delivering pellets in July.

Enviva CEO Thomas Mett was in the Gulf Coast on Wednesday to celebrate the massive $90 million project and the company’s growing footprint in Mississippi. But in addition to the fanfare, there is a real possibility that Met could soon end his company’s usual supply chain between 10 southeastern plants.

Railwaymen threatened to continue the strike after failed union negotiations with trucking companies. Unions demand sick pay and other quality of life improvements.

“I will tell you this is not the time for a rail strike,” the Met said after a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the terminal on Wednesday. “And we are optimistic that this can be avoided.”

Experts say the strike will shut down nearly a third of the nation’s freight systems, increasing congestion and causing a domino effect even in areas like Mississippi where unions are less active.

President Joe Biden is asking Congress to step in to block the strike — the effects of which could cripple the economy. In response, the House of Representatives on Wednesday passed a bill that provides for the conclusion of a contractual agreement. Now Biden is asking the Senate to act quickly.

“Without certainty of a final vote to avoid a shutdown this week, the railroad will begin to stop moving critical supplies, such as chemicals to treat our drinking water, as soon as this weekend,” the president said in a statement.

As for Mississippi businesses, Gov. Tate Reeves told a reporter for Mississippi Today on Wednesday that most companies in the state that depend on railroads have contingency plans in place in the event of a general strike.

“This particular company,” Reeves said, referring to Enviva, “and many others, for example, have facilities that can use the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway to move products.”

Enviva can also use trucks to transport pellets to the port – something it plans to do after exiting the next factory works in Bond.

The company claims to be the leading producer of wood pellets in the world. The massive white domes now at the Port of Pascagoula can hold up to 90,000 metric tons of wood pellets and are operated by about 30 local employees.

Reeves has worked closely with Enviva, which is expanding its presence in Mississippi. The state awarded the company $4 million in grants to open the Bond facility.

“We’re talking about decades of economic activity here in the state of Mississippi,” Matt said. “The world is hungry for woody biomass from Mississippi, so this will be a fantastic investment for Mississippians — not only for our employees, but for the entire supply chain we touch.”

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