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WV Waterborne coal traffic down

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By JIM ROSS

For The State Journal

The amount of coal moved on waterways in West Virginia was down in the first quarter of this year, continuing a long-term trend. 

That particularly holds true for coal produced in the Central Appalachian coal fields of southern West Virginia. Numbers from the Robert C. Byrd and Greenup locks and dams indicate trends in the Kanawha and Big Sandy basins. Most of the coal moving through those locks goes to power plants, and coal traffic at both dams is down significantly from last year. 

Meanwhile, as Northern Appalachian coal production holds on to market share, waterborne coal traffic originating in the Northern Panhandle has not suffered declines as significant as those from the Central Appalachian fields. 

All three dams on the Kanawha River showed year-to-year decreases in the quarter. Much of the coal that moves downbound through the locks at Marmet goes to Point Pleasant, where it is taken to power plants on the Ohio River. 

Traffic moved by rail has shown mixed results for the two major carriers operating in West Virginia. In terms of carloads instead of tons, CSX reported coal loadings were down 0.7 percent in the first quarter. Norfolk Southern reported loadings were down about 13 percent in the first quarter. 

Coal companies will be releasing their first-quarter reports soon along with information on their operations.