Sulfur project cost grows

Published 12:44 am Thursday, October 6, 2011

Even as PotashCorp reports the costs of its sulfur project climbing, it is trying to educate residents of Beaufort and Carteret counties about the project’s effects.

This week, some 60,000 color postcards were received by residents — 24,773 in Beaufort County and 35,014 in Carteret County — from PotashCorp Aurora describing the project, dubbed “Beaufort County Sulfur Project.” The postcards directed recipients to a website,, that provides additional information about the project, including a video of a sulfur-pellet storage facility near Vancouver, Canada.

“As you know, we have agreed not to build a melter at the Morehead City Port,” the opening page of the website reads. “However, we are looking at construction of a solid sulfur handling facility at the Port of Morehead City and a sulfur melting operation at our facility in Aurora.

“The purpose of this website is to help the general public understand sulfur and sulfur operations. Also we will show you photos and video of a similar port city, reliant on the tourism industry that includes sulfur operations in close proximity to homes, restaurants, and tourist attractions.

“We hope this website will give you valuable insight into not only sulfur, but also our company. We are proud of the high quality products we make, our dedication to safety, our commitment to our employees, and the contributions we make in the region. In Morehead City, we have been your corporate neighbor for more than 40 years, and we look forward to continuing that strong relationship in the future.”

It contains an aerial view of the proposed project in Morehead City and it contains a about the scrubber system proposed for the Beaufort County site, but it does not contain a depiction of the sulfur-melting plant and associated smokestacks that would be part of the Beaufort County site.

The company’s original plans for the project called for the construction of the sulfur-melting plant and sulfur-pellet storage facility at a cost of $95 million at the state port in Morehead City

Public outcry over the effects on the environment and the effects of two 125-foot-tall smokestacks on the esthetics of the Morehead City waterfront led to the eventual opposition to the proposal by Gov. Bev Perdue and prompted the company to halt the plan.

Now, the company is considering a plan that would split operations with sulfur pellets being stored at the port in Morehead City and transported by barges via the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway to the PotashCorp Aurora mining site, where they would be melted.

By splitting the operations, the cost of the project would increase to $170 million, according to Michelle Vaught, public-affairs director for PotashCorp Aurora.

That has led the company to give serious considerations to its other options, she said earlier this week.

Other alternatives considered by the company in an environmental assessment the company filed in regard to its Morehead City plan include proposals to build facilities in Aurora to receive and remelt sulfur pellets, build facilities to receive and remelt sulfur pellets at a port outside the state or build facilities to receive, store and remelt sulfur pellets at Radio Island between Morehead City and Beaufort.

The sulfur-project website also lists building a suitable facility outside the United States to handle formed solid sulfur and melting it.