The hurricane-damaged Port of New York and New Jersey remained closed to all cargo ships on Friday morning except for small barges that were bringing gasoline into the harbor to replenish the dwindling stocks at gas stations throughout the region.
“The barges are lightering fuel in from tankers outside the harbor and bringing it in,” Coast Guard Chief Warrant Officer Russell Tippets said Friday morning. He did not know whether tankers were being allowed into the harbor yet.
AAA said the shortage of gasoline that is causing mile-long lines at area gas stations is the result of tankers and barges not being allowed into the port because of concerns about floating debris in the harbor.
N.Y. Sen. Charles Schumer on Thursday announced the port has reopened, meaning fuel ships would be able to make the much-needed deliveries.
"I would hope within a day or two, because once these tankers get through into the harbor, it's a quick route for the trucks even with all the traffic to get to the gas stations and fill them up so that should help and help quickly," Schumer said.
The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey said the port’s container terminals would remain closed until further notice. All six container terminals in New York harbor suffered severe damage during the tidal surge caused by Hurricane Sandy on Monday night.
NOAA and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers have completed surveys of approaches to port and major channels east of the Kill Van Kull and did not find any major obstructions. The port authority said results of surveys of the Kill van Kull and Arthur Kill channels to New York Container Terminal and Port Newark channel to Elizabeth and Port Newark should be available Saturday.
The port agency said it completed approximately 75 percent of the soundings for all berths at its facilities, and results should be available Saturday.
The cleanup of storm damage at the terminals has progressed to the point that they are ready to power up equipment once electricity is restored to the port facilities. It is expected that PSE&G will restore power to several major terminal operators Saturday.
Customs and Border Protection mobile equipment is ready for operation. Radiation inspection portals will be tested once power is restored. Three of the four Customs Exam Stations are in operation, and Customs cleared cargo through them Friday.
Conrail and major rail carriers are ready to provide service to the port once terminals have restored power and are moving cargo.
Port authority facilities are still closed to traffic not associated directly with current terminal and facility operations.
Port authority spokesman Steve Coleman, who was operating out of an emergency command center in Jersey City that was running on generators on Friday, declined to estimate when the terminals could reopen. He said the port still remains closed to tankers carrying bunker fuel for cargo ships, which usually dock at fuel terminals leased out by the port authority. But he did now know whether the port was allowing entrance by gasoline tankers, which discharge fuel at private terminals in New Jersey.