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Sources, not CEO, indicate Port of Seattle considering Terminal 46 shutdown

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Publication clarifies comments regarding Port's exploration of potential closure of prominent container terminal.

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The Seattle periodical that attributed comments to Port of Seattle CEO Ted Fick on the Port considering a shutdown of container operations at Terminal 46 issued a correction to the story on Friday.

The March 2016 issue of Seattle Business magazine features a profile on Fick and his insights into the future of the business of the Port of Seattle. Last Wednesday, the following summary of comments made its way across the landscape:

The Port of Seattle expects to invest as much as $300 million to convert Terminal 5 on Harbor Island for the big ships, while Tacoma intends to make its Terminal 4 a mega terminal. "We also are looking at improving container terminals in both harbors to accommodate up to the 18,000- to 20,000-TEU ships being built today," says [Port of Tacoma CEO John] Wolfe. TEUs are 20-foot equivalent units, a method of measuring cargo capacity.

New, highly automated terminals planned for Harbor Island, Fick observes, will likely be able to handle virtually all of Seattle’s container traffic volume and could lead the alliance to shut down Terminal 46, near the SoDo-Stadium district, when Hanjin Shipping Co.’s lease ends in 2025. But Fick and the Port may have other plans for the area. Asked about Terminal 46, Fick says cautiously that he would more likely be a buyer than a seller.

As originally published, the profile attributed these comments to Fick. It was seen as a rather surprising admission in many quarters, including by us, especially in relation to the Port's staunch opposition to the Seattle Arena project in neighboring SoDo specifically because of nearby Terminal 46.

On Friday, March 4, Seattle Business published a correction stating:

"The following statement should not have been attributed to Fick: Some insiders speculate that the increased efficiency could lead the alliance to shut down Terminal 46, near the SoDo-Stadium district, when Hanjin Shipping Co.’s lease ends in 2025."

In follow-up, Seattle Business editor and profile contributor Leslie Helm qualified that the attribution to Fick was an editing error on his part. This was always meant to be identified as speculation from inside sources.

Naturally, we're curious to know who these inside sources are, as well as why the magazine felt they were legitimate enough to include their insight in Fick's profile.

The corrected profile maintains that studies on the future use of land at T-46 and in Interbay are currently underway. Though, it is left ambiguous as to whether it was Fick or the inside sources that provided such information.

For those keeping score, the Port's chief executive didn't share this particular thought. Instead, Port insiders believe, given the push by governing authority Northwest Seaport Alliance to convert Terminal 5 into a so-called "mega terminal," that container operations at Terminal 46 could become obsolete.