Road salt coming into State Pier in preparation for winter

New London — Salt that could be sprinkled on icy roads in and around New London this winter arrived in bulk at State Pier last week.

At least 25 longshoremen working for Logistec have been unloading about 49,000 metric tons of road salt from Egypt — at a rate of about 9,000 metric tons a day— from the bulk carrier Niton Cobalt.

The Bahamian-registered ship arrived last Thursday at State Pier, according to the website vesselfinder.com. The unloading operation for a cargo this size usually takes four to five days and is expected to be complete by Wednesday.

Last year was the first year that Steven Farrelly, owner of DRVN Enterprises of Wethersfield, began operating his salt distribution business on the pier, he said.

The salt coming into State Pier is paid for and imported by DRVN, unloaded by Logistec and stockpiled in a building on the State Pier facility.

"I always knew it would be a good location to put salt," Farrelly said by phone Tuesday, noting that he saw a need for salt distribution in this area and that no one was doing it locally.

Salt is a product that needs to be stored "out of the weather," Farrelly said. So it was in his "best interest" to have a covered facility where he could store and treat the salt.

The salt is treated so it can be used on roads, mostly by municipalities but also by commercial retailers, to melt snow.

During the last New London City Council meeting, the council agreed to a contract with DRVN for 1,000 metric tons of the treated salt, which has a molasses carbohydrate coating on it, said Brian Sear, director of public works.

He said the coated salt costs the city $85 per metric ton.

DRVN trucks the salt over from State Pier to the salt shed the city rents on Eastern Avenue across from the Public Works garage. The city has about 400 metric tons of salt left from last year, Sear said.

Farrelly has 10,000 metric tons of salt already in the shed, plus the 49,000 tons that just arrived. He said he has received "a lot" of purchase orders already, and has shipped 10,000 metric tons of salt to Ledyard, Mansfield, Marlborough, Rocky Hill and other towns.

DRVN has been around since 2002, according to Farrelly, and until recently was a one-man business. Farrelly said he recently hired three people and is in the process of hiring one more.

Of the state's three deepwarter ports — New London, New Haven and Bridgeport — Bridgeport is the only one that doesn't import salt, according to the state Department of Economic and Community Development.

DRVN is "looking for us to extend longer term, and we will do so once our lease with the State is final," Frank Vannelli, senior vice president for commercial and business development, LogistecStevedoring Inc., said by email.

Currently, Logistec, port operator for the past 17 years, has a lease with the state Department of Transportation, landlord at the facility, through January 2016. But company and state officials are in talks for a new lease "taking us beyond 2021," Vannelli said.

The Connecticut Port Authority, which came into existence on July 1, will eventually take over from DOT as the landlord at State Pier.

Vannelli said he expects another vessel bringing in salt later this year, and that towns are all stocking up their sheds for winter.

In general, Logistec is "having a strong finish to 2015," Vanelli said, noting a recent unloading of imported lumber from Europe from Sodra Lumber.

"The steel imports remain strong as well every month," he said.

j.bergman@theday.com

Twitter: @JuliaSBergman

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