Canal opens chemical terminal in Joliet IL

May 1, 2004
CANAL Terminal has opened one of the newest and most modern independent chemical storage facilities in the United States near Joliet, Illinois. The 100,000-barrel

CANAL Terminal has opened one of the newest and most modern independent chemical storage facilities in the United States near Joliet, Illinois. The 100,000-barrel chemical terminal received its first 20,000-barrel barge shipment in mid-May.

A wide range of chemical products can be handled at the 50-acre terminal, which has plenty of room for expansion as the business grows. Another 335,000 barrels of storage capacity is in the planning stages. Most importantly, the facility offers easy access to the Chicago market for truck, rail, and barge shipments.

“We've tried to give customers the best in a new storage terminal,” says Larry Barbish, vice-president of business development for Canal Barge, parent company of Canal Terminal. “We built a brand-new facility from the ground up, employing the best technology available with an efficient and flexible flow system and safety and security systems responsive to present-day needs.

“We've brought to the table the people and resources capable of delivering the highest level of quality, safety, and service. We're approaching this new venture with one goal in mind: to build a storage company capable of establishing a new standard in the bulk liquid storage industry.

“Finally, our customers and their transportation partners benefit from outstanding highway access to this terminal. Loaded tank trucks can head out north/south or east/west on the Interstate system in less than five minutes.”

Chicago market

Canal Terminal is just south of Chicago at the intersection of Interstates 55 and 80. Located at Mile 281 on the Illinois River System, the multi-mode storage facility can handle a diverse range of hazardous and non-hazardous specialty chemicals. Terminal capabilities include two barge docks, two truck racks, and more than 2,600 feet of rail siding. Rail service is provided by CSX.

Multi-mode transloading is enhanced by the facility layout. Product handling services include nitrogen for blanketing, compressed air, steam heat, blending, and the latest in digital scales for accurate shipment weights. State-of-the-art security is in place.

Day-to-day activities are under the direction of Micky Popplewell. Currently staffed with five operators working two shifts, the terminal could operate 24 hours a day to meet customer demand.

Past activity

The location actually has had storage and transfer capabilities for many years, but on a more limited basis. A small part of the site initially was developed for sulfur storage in the 1960s. It was owned at the time by Freeport Sulfur Company.

Canal Barge entered the scene transporting bargeloads of molten sulfur to the facility. In business for more than 70 years, New Orleans, Louisiana-based Canal Barge runs 16 tow boats, 126 tank barges, 230 hopper barges, and 173 deck barges.

By the late 1970s, Canal Barge was managing the terminal operation, and it bought the facility in 1981. The focus shifted to asphalt in 1985 with three 35,000-bbl tanks dedicated to that product. Sulfur is still transloaded from tank trucks to railcars.

The decision to make a major move into chemical storage came in late 2002, and ground was broken for the project in December of that year. Construction continued through most of 2003 and into 2004.

“A lot of thought went into this terminal,” says Cindy van Duyne, terminal management consultant with North American Terminal Services (NATS). “In addition to meeting current storage terminal regulations, we wanted to design for flexibility to respond to potential regulatory changes. We also wanted to design for cost-effective expansion.”

NATS is under contract to assist in managing the Canal Terminal operation for Canal Barge. Van Duyne has an Environmental Protection Agency background and spent four years as technical director with the Independent Liquid Terminals Association.

Other NATS principals include Jim Lacy and Dale Chatagnier. Their previous terminaling experience includes executive management positions at Westway Terminal Co and Delta terminals.

Working with Canal Barge management, they developed a terminal facility plan that stresses flexibility, ease of operation, and efficiency. It's a plan that will make it possible to quickly expand storage capacity to meet customer needs.

Five tanks

The five chemical storage tanks currently in place at the terminal each have a capacity of 840,000 gallons. Erected by Fisher Tank Company, the tanks were fabricated from carbon steel and built to the API 650 standard. They can hold products with a specific gravity of up to 1.5. The tanks can be lined as needed to meet specific customer requirements.

Four of the five chemical tanks have self-supporting domed roofs that enable the use of nitrogen blankets. Internal floating roofs can be added as needed. “The terminal has a VOC (volatile organic compound) permit to handle products with a vapor pressure at or below .75 psi,” van Duyne says. “With additional air emission controls (such as floating roofs), we can handle products with higher vapor pressures.”

Each tank is on a concrete ring wall foundation with impervious clay lining under the steel tank floor. PVC pipe in the ring wall foundation serves as leak detection. The tanks are thoroughly surrounded by containment diking with an impervions dike field.

Tank hardware includes Ohmart Vega radar level gauges and SVF Flow Control stainless steel valves and air actuators. Product transfer piping is above ground, and product is moved by Gould centrifugal pumps with a 300-gpm capacity.

Versatile handling

Product can be received and shipped from the terminal in three modes — barge, rail, and truck. Designed to accommodate two barges at a time, the dock is accessible virtually year-round. It's on a section of the river that doesn't freeze during the winter.

Truck and rail loading racks are located together and are just a short distance from the barge dock. The truck rack, in particular, is designed for speedy loading and unloading.

“We believe we'll be able to move a tank truck through in about 45 minutes,” van Duyne says. “We'll be able to handle 7,000 to 8,000 trucks a year with the current rack, and we have the ability to add a second truck rack as the business grows.”

Truck and rail loading operations are automated with process logic controllers that use a customized program. For safety, the control system is housed in a positive-pressure room that keeps flammable vapors away from the electronics.

Four bays are available for truck loading and unloading, and each has a Fairbanks digital scale. During top loading, operators work on a Carbis platform that is pneumatically raised and lowered. While on the 6-foot-wide platform, workers are completely surrounded by a full-protection hoop.

An important product-handling feature for the loading rack system is the ability to transfer chemicals directly from railcars to tank trailers. Van Duyne points out that this gives the terminal a higher level of product handling capability. Carbis platforms line the rail loading rack area.

Both the rail and truck loading rack areas have extensive product containment to ensure environmental protection in the event of an accidental release.

Even as the new chemical storage facility was under construction, the existing asphalt storage operation was upgraded in 2003. Loading speed was increased significantly with the addition of Viking pumps with Falk reduction gears. An asphalt trailer can be loaded in as little as 20 minutes. Two 300-horsepower boilers have enough capacity to meet the needs of the entire operation — asphalt and chemical storage and sulfur transloading.

Security system

Development of the chemical storage operation brought a significant upgrade in security capabilities at the facility, a large part of it underwritten by the federal government. Canal Terminal was one of many storage terminal operators that were successful in obtaining a Transportation Security Administration grant.

The company received approximately $300,000 under the Port Security Grant Program that has been in place since 2002. Nearly $300 million has been handed out for port security projects by TSA, the Coast Guard, and Department of Transportation's Maritime Administration.

For Canal Terminal, the grant helped pay for security systems including 4,500 linear feet of fencing that virtually surrounds the property right up to the barge dock. Storage tank valves have locks. Lighting and continuous-surveillance cameras are in place throughout the terminal. The three entrances to the terminal have controlled-access gates.

With a range of security and product handling systems in place, the new Canal Terminal stands ready to meet virtually all of the chemical storage needs of customers serving the greater Chicago market. Those customers can be assured of high-quality service.

Canal Terminal's management team points out that this is just the beginning. They are already examining potential locations in other areas.