Chinese Ship Costing Local Company Hundreds of Thousands

Jim Banigan
Jim Banigan

by Stephen Florino

KALAELOA (KHNL) - A local steel processing company is expecting to lose hundreds of thousands of dollars because of an unexpected stop by a chinese cargo ship.

The Tong Cheng is undergoing repairs to its hull at Kalaeloa harbor, but it's displacing the steel company's container ship, costing thousands a day in penalties, and thousands more in legal fees to try and get the money back.

It's a busy day at Schnitzer Steel Hawaii. Large piles of metal are being transformed to scrap, but it's not what managers here wanted to do today.

"We should have ship loading activities starting," said Jim Banigan, the company's general manager. "We should have trucks in and out of here, taking scrap to our vessel, which should be berthed at pier 7."

All that is on hold, because of the Tong Cheng.

it's berthed at one of the piers at Kalaeloa, leaving Schnitzer's container ship waiting at sea. And it's costing them.

"What we're looking at is the merage charges of $20,000 a day for 6 days," said Banigan. "So that's $120,000 before we even start.

The piles of scrap metal here are massive. The company is supposed to be shipping out more than 70,000 tons of it. Most of it to Thailand.

Banigan says his customers there are anxiously awaiting their shipment. But he says the most frustrating part is that his company hasn't been told what's going on.

"We're a Hawaii business," said Banigan. "We pay taxes, we got a good reputation in the community, and to be displaced without having anyone talk to us about it and tell us what was going on is kinda disappointing."

Schnitzer is planning to file a claim with the ship's insurance company, but managers say it could take weeks to determine exactly how much the delay will cost them.