August 23, 2014

Boeing to assemble new Dreamliner version only in SC

The 787-10 will be longer than Boeing's 787 jetliner currently assembled at the North Charleston site (File)

The 787-10 will be longer than Boeing’s 787 jetliner currently assembled at the North Charleston site (File)

Boeing plans to build a new larger version of its 787 Dreamliner exclusively at its North Charleston facility, the aerospace giant announced Wednesday.

The new 787-10 is longer than the Dreamliners currently being assembled at the company’s South Carolina site, which opened in 2011. The first plane is scheduled to be assembled beginning in 2017.

“We looked at all our options and found the most efficient and effective solution is to build the 787-10 at Boeing South Carolina,” Boeing Commercial Airplanes vice president and general manager for the 787 program Larry Loftis said in a statement. “This will allow us to balance 787 production across the North Charleston and Everett sites as we increase production rates. We’re happy with our growth and success in South Carolina, and the continued success at both sites gives us confidence in our plan going forward.”

The announcement was also significant because it marks the first time Boeing has assembled an jetliner model entirely with nonunion workers. The North Charleston site had been assembling Boeing’s current Dreamliner version with workers in Everett, Washington.

Boeing officials said the South Carolina final assembly plant will gradually increase from three 787s per month currently to five per month in 2016 and seven per month by the end of the decade.

In a statement, Gov. Nikki Haley called the announcement “huge” for South Carolina. “That Boeing is committing the future of the Dreamliner to our state – the first place, ever, outside of Washington State that Boeing has built a commercial airplane – lets the whole world know that South Carolina workers are the best around. The success that Boeing South Carolina has become in less than five years is a testament to the Boeing leadership and above all, the Boeing employees whose talent and dedication make all of us so proud. It truly is another great day in South Carolina.”

Cleanup continues after Spartanburg train derailment

Crews are now in the process of cleaning up after a train containing highly flammable ethanol derailed near Spartanburg early Friday morning.

Spartanburg Fire Department officials say the 90-car CSX train had left Pelzer and was on its way to Decatur, Illinois when three of its cars left the track around 1:30 a.m. near downtown Spartanburg between W. Main Street and Henry Street. Hazmat crews have closed off the area, but say none of the cars are leaking at this time.

No one was injured and no evacuations have been ordered at this time. Fire Chief Marion Blackwell said the situation could have been much more serious.

“We could have had a spill, a release of the product from the container, we could have had a fire,” he told reporters on the scene. “A lot of things could have went wrong and didn’t. We’re very fortunate.”

CSX officials said they are investigating the cause of the accident.

The hazmat crews are keeping an eye on the overturned cars’ pressure valves. CSX is sending a second train to haul off the remaining undamaged cars.

Ed Jenson contributed to this report

Deal reached to eventually reopen Myrtle Beach region’s only rail line

Carolina_Southern_RailroadIt has been three years since the Carolina Southern Railroad halted operations in the Pee Dee, cutting off the Myrtle Beach area’s only rail access to the outside world. But local officials say a new settlement clears the way to eventually resume service once again.

Carolina Southern halted operations along 93 miles of rail in 2011, after the Federal Rail Administration declared some of its bridges unsafe for travel. Owner Ken Pippin had said his company could not afford the necessary repairs and failed in its application for federal grant funds.

As a result, officials in Marion, Horry, and Columbus, NC counties saw their region’s fledgling industrial sector suffer from no rail access. Manufacturers had to use less cost-effective trucks to move cargo, according to former Myrtle Beach Regional Economic Development Council chair Doug Wendel.

“Railway is very critical to attract manufacturing organizations… that they can ship raw materials in (and) finished products out in a very cost-effective and efficient manner,” he said.

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Sheheen’s road funding proposal rejects gas tax


State Sen. Vincent Sheheen, D-Kershaw

State Sen. Vincent Sheheen, D-Kershaw

Democratic candidate for governor Vincent Sheheen said Tuesday that he does not think South Carolina should increase its gas tax to pay for badly-needed road repairs. Instead he is pushing a plan that would borrow about $500 million and redirect millions more from elsewhere in the state budget.

Sheheen released his plan to improve South Carolina roads on Tuesday, basing it partly off recommendations he previously made in his book “The Right Way.” The proposal calls for the state to issue an estimated $500 million in bonds to pay for immediate work. It also calls on the legislature to dedicate five percent of the general fund budget on top of the approximately $500 million it collects in gas tax revenue each year. Sheheen said he also wants state officials to consider other means to expand funding, including possible tolls to repair and widen Interstate 95, or a new tax on out-of-state trucks that travel South Carolina highways.

But he rejected any increase to South Carolina’s lowest-in-the-nation 17-cent fuel tax. “The gas tax is a declining source of revenue,” he told reporters, adding that vehicles are becoming more fuel-efficient. “It’s why we’re in the mess we’re in now, because we solely rely on it. If all we do is rely on the gas tax, we’ll be right back having this discussion five years from now (or) ten years from now.”

Sheheen is challenging Republican Gov. Nikki Haley, who has previously said she will propose a plan to increase road funding when state legislators return in January.

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Passengers rescued from grounded casino boat

The Escapade grounded near SC's coast (Image: Coast Guard)

The Escapade grounded near SC’s coast (Image: Coast Guard)

The Coast Guard reports 118 people have been safely removed from a casino boat that was grounded off the coast of South Carolina early Wednesday morning.

The Escapade, a 174-foot Savannah casino boat making its maiden voyage, ran aground in the Calibogue Sound south of Hilton Head Island around 1:00 a.m. The Coast Guard said the vessel got stuck about 1.8 miles north of Tybee Island in Georgia.

Coast Guard Petty Officer 1st Class Lauren Jorgensen said a towing company tried to assist the Coast Guard in removing the passengers and salvaging the ship, but was unsuccessful after the tow lines broke. The passengers have since been transported to shore by Coast Guard vessels.

“There’s 118 total people including crew and passengers coming off the boat,” Jorgensen said. “114 of those people  were taken off by boat and will be headed back to Coast Guard station Tybee Island.”

Jorgensen said four passengers were removed by Coast Guard helicopter because they were either uncomfortable or unable to climb down the ladder to get on to the Coast Guard vessel. She also said seven crew members will remain aboard the Escapade to assist the Coast Guard in removing the boat.

The Coast Guard and the commercial salvage company are still  unsure of how to get the boat off of the rocks.  Jorgensen added that rescuers are more interested in the safety of the passengers and crew for now.She said investigators will try to determine why the boat became stuck.

“It’s too early at this point to tell,” Jorgenssn said. “The crew did report early on that their chart plotter malfunctioned, but we can’t confirm that because it will be under Coast Guard investigation.”

The ship is owned by the Tradewinds Casino Cruise Company and offers offshore gaming and casino experiences to those who live in states like South Carolina and Georgia where gambling is illegal.

Patrick Ingraham filed this report.