Shipping industry dealing with high outflows
In this file photo, the Fednav bulk carrier Federal Margaree heads down the Welland Canal in Port Colborne.Ship captains are reporting they have been able to safely navigate and manage currents on the St. Lawrence River from the increased outflow levels of Lake Ontario.
After several days of continuous feedback, ship captains are reporting they have been able to safely navigate and manage currents on the St. Lawrence River from the increased outflow levels of Lake Ontario, the Chamber of Marine Commerce said.
Last week, the International Lake Ontario-St. Lawrence River Board increased the outflow of Lake Ontario to 10,400 cubic metres per second, the highest level ever recorded by the board. It said the outflow, from turbines at the Moses-Saunders dam, would be monitored and a decision made whether to keep it at that level.
Monday, the agency continued to keep up with that outflow, done to lower historic water levels on Lake Ontario causing shoreline damage on both sides of the border.
The chamber said it would continue to work closely with shipowner members and St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corp. to support the board’s decision.
“Ship operators are following additional robust mitigation measures put in place by the St. Lawrence Seaway, including reduced speed limits and the imposition of alternating one-way traffic in certain areas, to manage any incremental risk and ensure that vessels continue to safely deliver vital supplies for hundreds of industries in North America,” the chamber said in a release.
It also said a tug is at the Iroquois Lock ready to assist any vessels if required.
“We have had positive feedback from ship captains thus far that water conditions are safe and manageable. Mariners will continue to regularly report back on conditions. Safety of ship crews and the public are the top priority,” said Bruce Burrows, president of the Chamber of Marine Commerce, in the release,
“We believe this compromise solution will provide relief for upstream waterfront property owners while still allowing commercial navigation to safely operate. The water outflow exceeds what was accomplished in 1993 when shipping was halted on an alternating “stop and go” basis.”
The chamber said the seaway is a crucial component of the integrated transportation system that moves goods throughout the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River region and part of a bi-national shipping economy that generates $35 billion worth of economic activity, including 227,000 jobs.
Cargo moving on the seaway alone produces more than $50 million worth of economic activity in Canada and the U.S. every day The seaway supports cross-border trade; supplies materials for current construction activity in regions such as the busy Greater Toronto Area; iron ore for steel production in cities like Hamilton and is an important export route for Canadian grain, for which movements have grown in 2017, the chamber said.
“It’s important to note that the value of St. Lawrence Seaway shipping also extends beyond these economic contributions,” said Burrows. “Maintaining a reliable consistent commercial navigation system reduces land congestion and accidents; reduces fuel consumption and carbon emissions and a whole host of other social impacts that affect Great Lakes communities on a daily basis.”