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Wilmington port board of directors approves deal with Gulftainer

The Port of Wilmington board is recommending state lawmakers approve a 580 million dollar deal with port operator Gulftainer. 

Under the agreement, Gulftainer would lease the port for 50 years and invest more than 580 million dollars in new technology and a new container terminal at the old DuPont Edgemoor site. It’ll also pay fees to the state based on cargo volume.

Gulftainer CEO Peter Richards said port workers must pass a federal security check to access some areas, but adds he’s working with Delaware’s Secretary of State Jeff Bullock to hire people with criminal backgrounds.

“I’m working with Secretary Bullock there to try to find a way around that," he said. "We always believe in giving people a second chance and if there’s way that they can do it legally and through the legislation, then we’re all for it, we really are.”

Gulftainer’s operation at the Port of Wilmington would be made up of exclusively union workers from the International Longshoreman’s Association.

But ILA Vice President Bill Ashe said this is going to create thousands of jobs for everyone, not just his union’s workers.

“All the unions in the state of Delaware is going to get a piece of this," he said. "It’s not just the ILA so I don’t want anybody to think it’s just the ILA. It creates jobs for a lot of people who need jobs.”

In a statement, Gov. John Carney said creating more port jobs is central to Deleware's economic success.

"Members of the General Assembly still must approve the agreement for it to take effect, and I look forward to continued discussions with legislators," he said.

Gulftainer has also committed to deepen the port to bring in larger ships. Richards said the dredging has to be done before starting construction on the Edgemoor container terminal in 2021.

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