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Barge unloads massive turbine blades at Fall River’s State Pier

FALL RIVER – A massive 450-foot vessel arrived at State Pier from China on Thursday, delivering, in sections, the tallest wind turbine in the state.

The 2-megawatt turbine, which, when assembled, will measure 415 feet from its base to the tip of its highest blade, is getting transported to Phillips-Lightolier in the Industrial Park over the weekend. Each of the turbine’s blades measures 150 feet in length and weighs 188,000 pounds. It will take 13 trucks to complete the delivery.

Until recently, a shipment of this size would not have been possible at State Pier. This year, the South Berth underwent a $1.7 million renovation, including the shoring up of pier pilings and reinforcing the platform structure.

“The whole section of infrastructure under the pier was falling apart,” said Curt Oliveira, president of the Fall River Line Pier Company, which leases the 8-acre site from the state. “This is a 500 foot wharf. You would have had trouble bringing in a boat that big. It wasn’t strong enough.”

The renovation was made possible by funding from the Massachusetts Seaport Council, which is chaired by Lt. Governor Tim Murray. Louis Elisa, executive secretary of the Seaport Advisory Council, said the improvements are designed to make Fall River’s State Pier more viable for deliveries of this nature. With transport, delivery and construction, Elisa estimates that each shipment of this size will generate more than 100 jobs.

“The long term vision for this site has been heightened by having this ship come in,” Elisa said. “If this works other vessels will dock here. It will improve revenue. The amount of jobs it will create will be tremendous.”

Elisa said the Seaport Council is seeking additional funding to dredge the area to 30-foot depths so that larger vessels could also dock at the State Pier. He said cooperation between state and local officials made this project a reality.
Fall River Office of Economic Development Project Director Michelle Paul was pleased that Murray and the Seaport Council felt this was a worthwhile project.

“It’s great when the state makes investments to one of our facilities,” said Paul. “These are the types of projects the Office of Economic Development advocates for.”