It appears that the Port of Eastport’s problem of cargo storage space at Estes Head, or lack of it, is on its way to being solved – and the solution may well be a new warehouse with a metal frame and fabric skin.

The problem was summed up by Skip Rogers, Eastport manager for Federal Marine Terminals, which handles the port’s cargo. “We need to look at new options for storage,” Rogers told the March meeting of the Port Authority’s board of directors. “If we don’t deal with this, we could possibly lose 100,000 tons [of cargo] to Saint John.”

Earlier, Eastport had lost a ship and 2,000 tons to Saint John, New Brunswick, because of the storage problem, according to port director John Sullivan. He added, however, “I don’t think we would have lost them if the ships had been on time and hadn’t been held up by the weather.”

But Rogers emphasized that the loss to Saint John could well set a dangerous precedent and urged that it not be allowed to happen again.

The current lack of space has also meant that, from time to time, cargo has been moved by flatbed truck from Estes Head to an FMT warehouse at the Eastport Breakwater and then, with the arrival of a ship, transported on flatbeds back to Estes Head.

FMT executive vice president Ted Winter, on a visit from FMT’s U.S. headquarters in Charlotte, North Carolina, proposed the sharing of the cost, between his company and the Port Authority, of a “Rubb building” warehouse which, he said, would be considerably less expensive than a steel warehouse.

“I think we’re receptive to that idea,” remarked Port Authority member and Eastport City Council chair Greg Biss, reflecting the board’s sentiments. The board also agreed to explore costs and site work, and report back at the April Port Authority meeting.

The Rubb Group, an international company with its American office in Sanford, manufactures prefabricated, relocatable buildings. Rubb buildings have two common features: a steel frame and a PVC coated polyester fabric cover, which is tensioned over the frame to provide a tight-fitting shell.

The Port Authority and Federal Marine are looking at a metal frame, fabric skin structure that would resemble an airplane hangar.

Eastport’s only current export is kraft pulp manufactured at Domtar’s plant in Woodland. Domtar purchased that facility from Georgia-Pacific in 2001.