Port of Tacoma leases former Kaiser site to WWL for auto processing facility

The Port of Tacoma commissioners approved a 30-year lease last week with Wallenius Wilhelmsen Logistics (WWL) to develop an auto processing facility on the former Kaiser Aluminum site.

The Managing Members of The Northwest Seaport Alliance also approved a 10-year vessel services agreement to set the rates for the breakbulk services, managed by the alliance.

“WWL is delighted to grow our relationship with the Port of Tacoma through the addition of a state-of-the-art automotive processing center,” said John Felitto, president of WWL Vehicle Services Americas. “We are thankful for the support of Northwest Seaport Alliance commissioners and the Port of Tacoma team who made this a success.”

WWL has called in the Puget Sound region with roll-on/roll-off ships since 1992. The auto processing facility will expand WWL’s marine cargo business in the Pacific Northwest.

The lease includes 90 acres at the former Kaiser Aluminum smelter site in Tacoma, and is estimated to create more than 100 new jobs in addition to the 61 already associated with WWL when the facility is operational, estimated by the end of 2018.

“This site is a prime piece of industrially-zoned land with access to a deep-water berth,” said Don Meyer, president of the Port of Tacoma commission. “We are pleased to see it put back into productive use to support The Northwest Seaport Alliance’s marine cargo business and help a valued customer grow.”

The $35 million facility in Tacoma is expected to process up to 100,000 vehicles a year, most of which will be bound for the local market or transported by rail to the U.S. Midwest. The ships will dock at the 1,200-foot-long East Blair One wharf on the east side of the Blair Waterway.

About the former Kaiser site

The Port of Tacoma bought the mothballed aluminum smelter in 2003 from Houston-based Kaiser Aluminum & Chemical Corporation. The sale included about 96 acres and related structures in the Tacoma Tideflats industrial area next to the Blair Waterway.

Activity at Kaiser’s Tacoma facility stopped in 2002 after more than 60 years. At full operation, the facility employed 350 people and was capable of producing about 73,000 metric tons of aluminum annually.

During the past decade, the port has removed thousands of tons of waste from the site, demolished buildings and cleaned up significant portions of the property. The property was contaminated with polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), which result from burning fuels, and polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB), formerly used in transformers and electric engines.

The port purchased the property with the express intent to demolish the facility, finish cleaning up the site and place it back into productive use.

About Wallenius Wilhelmsen Logistics

Wallenius Wilhelmsen Logistics is a global logistics operator serving the manufacturing industry with special focus on vehicles, mining and construction equipment and machinery. The company brings together the shipping and logistics businesses of EUKOR Car Carriers, WWL and American RoRo Carriers. For more information, see www.2wglobal.com.