Grain terminal operator EGT in Longview, Wash., received a 110-car rail shipment of wheat, moving the site closer to opening in the face of a massive labor protest.
The train was met again with protestors from the International Longshore and Warehouse Union and arrests were reported. EGT, a joint venture of three international companies led by Bunge, is attempting to become the first grain terminal on the West Coast to operate without the use of ILWU labor.
The powerful longshore union is fighting tenaciously to protect its jurisdiction. The results in the 10-month dispute have been violent protests and arrests.
At least two demonstrators Wednesday were reportedly treated after being hit with pepper spray. EGT is determined to move forward with its operating plans for the new $200 million facility.
"This grain delivery is an important step toward completing the facility's testing phase and bringing it online," EGT said Wednesday in a press release.
The ILWU, which is limited in its picketing by a restraining order, said two of its members and 10 wives and mothers of longshoremen were arrested by Cowlitz Country Sheriff Department officers "for exercising their First Amendment rights by demonstrating peacefully."
The 110-car shipment of wheat from central Washington will help farmers in the region access growing markets in Asia, said EGT CEO Larry Clarke. "Every shipment of grain we process through the facility helps to firmly establish Longview as a premier grain export location on the West Coast and brings vital economic benefits to Cowlitz County and its residents," he said.