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Old October 31st, 2005, 01:00 AM   #1
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The St. Lawrence Seaway

October 30, 2005 Sunday
TROUBLED WATERS - THE ST. LAWRENCE SEAWAY
Carving out a route to riches
Efforts to link Great Lakes with world began long ago

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel



A shipping route linking the Great Lakes with the Atlantic Ocean had been a dream since the days of canoe-paddling French explorers, and a quick look at the globe shows why.

Duluth sits almost as near to the middle of the continent as Kansas City. But it is blessed with a direct hydrological link to the Eastern Seaboard via Lakes Superior, Michigan, Huron, Erie, Ontario and their outflow, the St. Lawrence River.

The northern location of the Great Lakes actually puts some big Midwestern cities closer to Europe than some East Coast ports. Baltimore, for example, sits 3,936 miles from Liverpool; Detroit, via the St. Lawrence River, is 3,673 miles away.

What a globe doesn't show is the series of hulking obstacles the glaciers left behind when they scooped out the Great Lakes Basin 10,000 years ago. It also doesn't distinguish the lakes as an entirely different type of water from the vast ocean blue.

In this increasingly thirsty century, gold might be a more accurate color representation for the lakes that together hold 20% of the world's fresh surface water.

Lake Superior, the westernmost Great Lake, sits about 600 feet above sea level, and some 2,300 miles from the sea. Many of those 600 feet are found at three critical chokepoints to navigation - the rapids on the St. Marys River between Lakes Superior and Huron; thundering Niagara Falls, which separates Lake Erie from Lake Ontario; and the series of violent rapids between Lake Ontario and Montreal, where the St. Lawrence River drops about 225 feet over 190 miles.

First locks in 1700s

Early paddlers could tote their canoes around those trouble spots, but efforts to tame the route to allow for vessels carrying bigger loads started in the late 1700s with the opening of the first locks on the St. Marys River, according to a history of Great Lakes navigation compiled by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Canada had created a canal system that provided small ships a link to the ocean by the mid-1800s. However, the earth-movers didn't get serious about a waterway big enough to handle large oceangoing vessels until the 1930s, when Canada built the current Welland Canal, an eight-lock system that bypassed Niagara Falls and opened up traffic between Lake Ontario and the four upper Great Lakes.

But a deep-draft passage all the way to the Atlantic did not occur until the United States and Canada decided to tame the stretch of the St. Lawrence River between Montreal and Lake Ontario. That Seaway project, which included seven locks to match the size of the eight Welland Canal locks, was completed in 1959 and opened the lakes to freighters that are 740 feet long and 78 feet wide and that draw about 27 feet of water. Canada built five of the locks, the U.S. built two, and the $470 million price tag was split accordingly.

But today those locks aren't nearly big enough to handle many of the world's modern freighters, which is a big reason the Seaway operates at about half capacity. And a big reason why it no longer captures the public's imagination, as it once did.

"I was witness to what is still one of the most complicated public works projects ever brought off, and the largest construction undertaking of its kind ever done in a populated area," recalled former contractor-turned-writer Daniel McConville in the fall 1995 issue of the magazine Invention and Technology. "Yet, alone among the world-class civil engineering wonders, the Seaway holds the dubious distinction of being less famous now than before it was built."
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Old March 26th, 2006, 04:05 AM   #2
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Seaway hopes to lure ships from China
Bypass congested West Coast ports: Highway H2O campaign casts seaway as environmentally friendly alternative
CP
24 March 2006

The St. Lawrence Seaway hopes to attract ship traffic from booming China by bringing in the first all-container vessel to the inland waterway this year.

Richard Corfe, chief executive of the St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corp., said the seaway could help alleviate congestion at Pacific ports like Vancouver and Los Angeles, where ships have to wait to be unloaded and their containers may sit on the quay for days.

The seaway, which connects Montreal at sea level to all the Great Lakes, does most of its shipping volumes in bulk commodities like grain and iron ore, but few if any containers. Its business has been relatively stagnant for years.

Speaking at a ceremony to open the 2006 season yesterday, Corfe said the seaway could accommodate smaller container ships able to carry 800 to 850 containers (20-foot equivalents), commonly used in Europe on coastal and inland waterways.

For example, large ships able to carry 5,800 containers to the Port of Halifax could transfer containers to the smaller seaway ships for the voyage upstream to ports like Toronto, Cleveland and Chicago, Corfe said in an interview.

"There's a number of initiatives we're working on with partners," Corfe said. "Our objective for 2006 is to have a service up and running. It opens up a whole different option for shippers."

Corfe said some shipping lines are already moving cargo from China to eastern North America by going through the Panama Canal or even the Suez Canal, despite the longer distance, to avoid congestion on Pacific ports.

This year, the seaway and port partners are sending a Canadian-U.S. delegation to China. They will sign memorandums of understanding with the Port of Shanghai as well as the Chinese ministry of communications, which is responsible for transportation.

Corfe said the seaway will also continue a promotion campaign that began last year. The campaign, dubbed Highway H20, is aimed at casting the seaway as an efficient and environmentally friendly alternative to trucks.

The Montreal-Lake Ontario section of the St. Lawrence Seaway officially opened yesterday for its 48th season. The Welland Canal section opened on Tuesday, the earliest start ever for the canal as its 75th season got going.

The seaway managed to capture some new business in 2005 with a flexible toll structure to encourage smaller shipments via the Welland Canal section.

The entire seaway handled 43.3 million tonnes of traffic in 2005, about the same as the year before. About half the total was grain and iron ore. Corfe is projecting 45 million tonnes this year.
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Old January 3rd, 2007, 03:34 AM   #3
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St. Lawrence Seaway closes after boosting volumes

WINNIPEG, Manitoba, Jan 2 (Reuters) - The St. Lawrence Seaway, which connects the Great Lakes to the Gulf of St. Lawrence and the Atlantic Ocean, has closed for winter freeze-up after a record-long season, officials said on Tuesday.

Traffic through the seaway totaled 48 million tonnes, up 10 percent from the previous year, the St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corp. said in a release.

"Within the existing locks and channels, the seaway can accommodate a further increase of over 60 percent in cargo volumes," said Richard Corfe, chief executive of Seaway Management.

Iron ore, coal and grain are the cargo mainstays for the seaway, which was open for a record 283 days in 2006 thanks to mild winter weather. But it also saw more than 500,000 tonnes of new cargo that was previously shipped by truck and rail, officials said.

The seaway traditionally reopens in March.

It stretches some 3,700 km (2,300 miles) and, through a series of locks and canals, allows international maritime traffic into the industrial heartland of Canada and the United States.
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Old April 25th, 2007, 03:19 AM   #4
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Port officials say container traffic would be a boon
22 April 2007

CLEVELAND (AP) - Cuyahoga County port officials hope an increase in container ship traffic on coastal ports could pay dividends if the vessels can be lured to Cleveland.

The number of container ships -- carrying cargo ranging from auto parts to patio furniture to clothing -- is increasing 8 percent a year, but none if it heads to Cleveland's port, which handles iron ore, stone and steel.

"The question is, do we want to be a significant maritime port or not," said Adam Wasserman, who took over as director of the Cleveland-Cuyahoga Port Authority in February.

Within five years, Cleveland could raise its profile as a shipping center for container cargo if congestion at coastal ports worsens, said Stephen Pfeiffer, the port's head of maritime operations.

The necessity for smaller ports to handle some of the load is inevitable, and smaller freighters could easily use the St. Lawrence Seaway to access Great Lakes ports, said Terry Johnston, administrator of the St. Lawrence Seaway Development Corp.

Companies like Aldert van Nieuwkoop's new Great Lakes Feeder Services hope that speculation becomes reality. Great Lakes Feeder Services plans to run routes between Halifax, Nova Scotia and ports on Lake Ontario, but van Nieuwkoop would consider delivering containers to Cleveland.

"It's a major consumer center and strategically well positioned," he said.

Pfeiffer wants plans for the port's future to consider the room and equipment, including specialized cranes, that would be needed to develop the area for container traffic.
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Old June 28th, 2007, 06:05 AM   #5
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St. Lawrence Seaway traffic down so far in 2007

WINNIPEG, Manitoba, June 27 (Reuters) - High steel inventories, softer manufacturing and increased ocean freight rates have meant less traffic so far this year for the St. Lawrence Seaway, officials said on Wednesday.

St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corp. forecast shippers would move 44 million tonnes of cargo in 2007 through the seaway, down almost 7 percent from the 47.2 million tonnes handled in 2006.

However, the total would be up from the 43.3 million tonnes that moved through the 3,700-km (2,300-mile) system of locks and canals in 2005. The seaway links the Atlantic Ocean to the Great Lakes and allows international maritime traffic into the industrial heartland of Canada and the United States.

Slowed manufacturing and high domestic steel inventories have meant lower steel imports, officials said in a release.

Ship charter rates are near all-time highs, leaving owners less inclined to enter the seaway, the release said, and meaning fewer vessels are available to load grain for overseas shipment.

Officials have said the seaway, which is traditionally open from March until late December, could accommodate more than 60 percent more cargo than existing volumes.

The seaway is trying to diversify traffic from its mainstays of iron ore, coal and grain, and wants to introduce new technology to speed passage through the system.
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Old July 5th, 2007, 07:16 AM   #6
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interesting. I wonder if they have started any container shipping on the Great Lakes yet.
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Old July 12th, 2007, 09:32 AM   #7
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Scientists urge saltwater flushing to kill ballast invasives on cargo ships
11 July 2007

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (AP) - A new report proposes a simple way to prevent invasive species from sneaking into the Great Lakes aboard oceangoing cargo ships: Just add salt water.

In a study released Tuesday, scientists said vessels should be required to flush their ballast tanks with full-strength seawater before entering the St. Lawrence Seaway, the passage to the lakes.

Doing so would kill many organisms that were scooped up in foreign ports where salinity levels are low, the study said. Even those that survive might be swept into the ocean instead of winding up in the Great Lakes, said Thomas Johengen, a University of Michigan nutrient chemist and one of the study's leaders.

"This isn't a foolproof method," Johengen said in a phone interview. "We look at it as an easy, interim approach until we have more of a technology-based treatment solution."

Ballast water is widely considered a leading source of aquatic invaders, which compete with native species for food and habitat. At least 185 have been identified in the Great Lakes, including zebra and quagga mussels, which clog water pipes and do more than $150 million worth of damage a year.

Coast Guard regulations already instruct freighters bound for U.S. ports to exchange ballast water while at sea. But ships hauling cargo can get around the requirement by declaring they aren't carrying ballast.

Critics say those ships -- known as NOBOBs (No Ballast On Board) -- might have residue in their tanks harboring living organisms. More than 90 percent of the freighters entering the St. Lawrence Seaway are NOBOBs, the report said.

The Coast Guard recommended mid-ocean ballast tank flushing for NOBOBs in 2005. The agency didn't make it mandatory because the rulemaking process would have taken years and the effectiveness of saltwater flushing was still being studied, said Bivan Patnaik, environmental regulation coordinator.

Canada last year required saltwater treatment of ballast water for all ships, including NOBOBs.

In their three-year study, scientists at the University of Michigan and other institutions ran more than 70 laboratory experiments to determine how saltwater flushing affects various invertebrates. Among them: zebra and quagga mussels.

The tests were conducted in Lake Erie, Lake Michigan, Chesapeake Bay, San Francisco Bay and several European ports.

They confirmed that "saltwater can be quite effective at reducing the risk of invasions from ballast water," said David Reid of the Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory in Ann Arbor, another project leader.

John Jamian, president of the Seaway Great Lakes Trade Association, said the shipping industry supports midocean ballast water exchange, although each vessel has its own policies.

Pumping water into ballast tanks when a ship already is loaded with cargo can be dangerous, he said.

"You've got to look at the safety of the crew and the structural integrity of the ship," Jamian said.

------

Editor's note -- John Flesher is the AP correspondent in Traverse City and has covered environmental issues since 1992.
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Old January 6th, 2009, 06:01 PM   #8
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Port of Montreal expects good 2009 despite drop from record set last year
5 January 2009
The Canadian Press

MONTREAL - The Port of Montreal expects to outshine container ports in Canada and the eastern United States in 2009 despite feeling the effects of a shrinking economy.

The port estimates containerized cargo tonnage will drop by 3.7 per cent, compared to a record 2008, but the tonnage should be 2.7 per cent higher than in 2007.

``Probably the next quarter will be critical to see if we are at the bottom of this recession and then we will have to build the business back,'' CEO Patrice Pelletier said Monday.

Tough times for the port surfaced in November and December, when traffic decreased by five to seven per cent.

Nonetheless, the Montreal port had a record year in 2008 with the highest growth among North America's 10 main container ports. Shipped tonnage increased by 7.2 per cent to 1.46 million TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent units).

Total traffic was 26.6 million tonnes, up about 2.5 per cent from an historic year in 2007.

That compares favourably to Halifax and Vancouver which suffered last year. Western ports were particularly hurt by reduced traffic with China and Asia. American ports had flat volume or experienced reductions.

Diversity helped the port of Montreal as freight handled from the Mediterranean route grew by 31.6 per cent, while the Caribbean was up 27 per cent.

This change reduced the dependence on Northern Europe, which accounts for 70 per cent of goods shipped, down from 91 per cent in the early 1990s.

The figures were released at a ceremonial presentation of the port's gold cane to the captain of the first ocean-going vessel to arrive in 2009. Capt. Michael Henry Rossiter of the Maersk Patras received the 170-year honour.

The port's location, stranglehold on container shipments in eastern Canada and ability to service 135 million consumers gives it a competitive advantage over rivals, particularly the ports of Virginia, Pelletier told reporters.

It has also been helped by a shift to containers from bulk shipments that have been hit hardest by reductions in metals, gypsum and other primary resources.

``The fact that we're involved in containers in this part of the world addressing a specific market has shielded us up to a certain extent.''

The Port of Montreal has cut expenses except on employment and strategic investments to address the economic slowdown. Pelletier doesn't believe the downturn will have much impact on its employees.

It has opened an office in Chicago to help it win back business in the key midwestern U.S. port.

``Within that corridor we can do much more than what we're doing today,'' he said, noting that it's trade to Chicago has slipped to 30 per cent from 50 per cent many years ago.

In tough economic times, customers want to use the most economical route. Using vessels through the St. Lawrence Seaway and Great Lakes saves up to three days and resulting costs over alternate use of rail and trucks, the port says.

Key to this effort is improving the intermodal connections.

Pelletier called on the federal government to proceed with $2.1 billion investment in the Continental Gateway and Trade Corridor project. Spending on the project announced in the summer of 2007 is slated to begin this year. The Montreal port expects to receive between $450 million and $650 million.

The port is also looking to expand its operations over several phases. It expects to identify the location later this year for a new large shipping terminal.

The port says its activities support 18,200 jobs and generate $1.5 billion in annual economic spinoffs.
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Old July 10th, 2009, 02:12 PM   #9
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Some facts about the St. Lawrence Seaway
10 July 2009
(c) 2009. The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.

Here are some facts about the St. Lawrence Seaway:

--Opened to deep-water navigation April 25, 1959.

--More than 2.5 billion tons of cargo have passed through, valued at more than $375 billion.

--Stretches 265 miles from Montreal to mid-Lake Erie

--Has five sections (from east to west): Lachne, Soulanges, Lake St. Francis, International Rapids, Thousand Islands.

--Part of the Great Lakes St. Lawrence Seaway System, the world's longest deep draft inland waterway, extending 2,340 miles from the Atlantic Ocean to the head of the Great Lakes.

--15 locks, 13 Canadian.

--Maximum vessel size is 740 feet in length, with a 78-foot beam and 26-foot, 6-inch draft.

--Built with 6 million cubic yards of concrete and by dredging and excavating 360 million tons of earth.

--Agricultural products represent about 40 percent of Seaway trade, with another 40 percent in mining products -- iron ore, coal, coke, salt and stone.

--Governed by the St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corp. in Canada and the St. Lawrence Seaway Development Corp. in the United States.
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Old July 10th, 2009, 05:49 PM   #10
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Construction of Great Lakes shipping lock at Sault Ste. Marie under way after 2-decade delay
30 June 2009

SAULT STE. MARIE, Mich. (AP) - A groundbreaking ceremony Tuesday marked the first step toward construction of a new Great Lakes shipping lock on the St. Marys River, which supporters have sought for more than two decades.

The Soo Locks complex raises and lowers ships on the river linking Lake Superior and Lake Huron, forming a vital gateway for freighters hauling iron ore, coal and other raw materials to port cities such as Detroit and Cleveland. Last year, more than 8,460 vessels hauling a combined 81 million tons of freight passed through the locks.

But of four existing locks, just one -- the Poe -- can accommodate the Great Lakes' largest ships, which can be up to 1,000 feet long. Those super-sized ships carry more than 70 percent of the cargo that goes through the locks.

If the Poe were disabled, Midwestern industries such as steelmaking and electric power generation could be crippled, industry representatives say.

"It would pretty much shut down the lakes," said Glen Nekvasil, spokesman for the Lake Carriers Association, a trade group representing U.S.-flagged shippers.

A new Poe-sized lock would replace two others: the Sabin, which has been decommissioned, and the Davis, which is seldom used. The MacArthur, which can handle smaller vessels, will remain in service.

"We look forward to completing the project -- hopefully ahead of schedule if funding allows us," said John Niemiec, project manager for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which oversees the Soo Locks.

Congress authorized the new lock in 1986, but provided no construction money until placing $17 million into this year's budget. Two "coffer dams" -- steel cells filled with rock that will restrain river waters as the lock is built -- will cost $1.9 million. The rest of the money will be used to deepen the channel leading to the locks and design work.

"We take a great deal of satisfaction in seeing actual construction start," said Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn, chairman of the Great Lakes Commission.

But finishing the lock is expected to take 10 years and more than $500 million, and officials acknowledged there is no guarantee of future funding. The Army Corps has never considered the new lock a high enough priority to be included in its annual budget proposals. Congressional supporters inserted the money for the coffer dams.

Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., said he and Rep. Bart Stupak, D-Mich., pressed the case for the project in a meeting with corps officials after the groundbreaking.

"It's clearly a challenge to do this, but it's a challenge which we are confident can be met," Levin told The Associated Press in a telephone interview.
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Old July 10th, 2009, 09:22 PM   #11
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Fallen hero: the seaway at 50
Linking the world's greatest body of fresh water to the ocean was a source of national pride the day the St. Lawrence Seaway opened. Fifty years later, Erin Anderssen reports, the engineering triumph is an environmental villain fighting for its economic life
27 June 2009
The Globe and Mail

CORNWALL, ONT. and CORNWALL, ONT. -- The official opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway was orchestrated to be a breathless moment in history – a “flossy, glossy” ceremony, to quote this newspaper. On the muggy afternoon 50 years ago yesterday, balloons soared, guns saluted, an American president stopped by and a rosy-cheeked Queen, just turned 33, leaned over the railing of her yacht and waved at the cheering crowds.

Cargo freighters had, in fact, been lumbering through the new locks to Toronto and major ports on the Great Lakes for more than a month, smoothing out kinks in advance of the Royal Yacht Britannia's sleek arrival.

As it was, fog interrupted the voyage from Montreal, and the Queen turned up too late to enjoy the dinner carefully prepared for her at the hotel in Long Sault, a town created to house the many families who had lost their homes to the rising waters of the seaway and Ontario Hydro's massive new power dam.

But for most observers that day, a few lost villages was well worth giving ocean vessels access to the Great Lakes; to them, the seaway was an economic bonanza for Canada after decades of bickering with the United States. An engineering marvel finished on time and under budget, it had cost nearly $470-million (U.S) and taken 22,000 workers four years and nine months to build the vital 306-kilometre stretch from Montreal to Lake Ontario.

The hydroelectric dams – built at the same time and worth an additional $530-million – would fire up the bustling cities and manufacturing plants along both sides of the seaway. And this was the time of the Cold War, when the route promised secure berths for military ships and submarines, with quick passage to the ocean. The canals and locks that had widened and deepened the river path – silencing the famous Long Sault Rapids, which had 400 years earlier frustrated Jacques Cartier's travel plans – now made it possible for a transoceanic freighter the size of two football fields to deliver French perfume and Italian marble (as the first arrivals did) to inland ports such as Toronto before heading to Lake Superior to take home grain from Thunder Bay.

“It has moved the ocean a thousand miles inland,” The Globe and Mail declared that day in 1959. “The effects of this cannot as yet be estimated, but we can be certain that they will be very great.” Or, as the Queen put it: “We can say in truth that this occasion deserves a place in history.”

The prediction proved to be true: The seaway, arguably the world's most impressive inland waterway, built at a cost that today would top $7-billion (U.S.), transformed cities along its shores, opening new markets and churning out a reliable stream of electricity. But over time, the story has become less rosy, the seaway's place in history less celebrated, its future uncertain.

Canada paid roughly 70 per cent of the bill, and has divided revenue with the U.S. accordingly. But that revenue has yet to cover the cost of construction, and often has barely covered operating costs.

Even worse, the seaway has wreaked so much havoc on the world's greatest supply of fresh water that some critics now propose that it be abandoned as a route for saltwater ships – the very notion that stirred its creators' imagination.

“It's pretty clear that the seaway has been an economic disappointment and an environ-mental disaster for the Great Lakes,” says environmental writer Jeff Alexander, whose new book, Pandora's Locks, chronicles the project's fallout. “I think it would be disingenuous to hold a celebration without recognizing some of the unintended side effects.”

MUSSEL POWER

The seaway has always been the tale of two waters – salt and fresh, divided by nature but united by humanity. Even before construction began on the Montreal section, however, it was clear that mixing the ocean with the lakes came with risks. The building of the Welland Canal years ago allowed ships to circumvent Niagara Falls, but it also provided passage to the sea lamprey, a vicious “aquatic assassin,” as Mr. Alexander describes it, that broke into the world's largest freshwater fish market with no natural predator to stand against it.

So perhaps it shouldn't have come as such a surprise when, in 1988, two biology students found an unusual shellfish on the bottom of Lake St. Clair, which lies between Lake Erie and Lake Huron. It turned out to be a foreign intruder that had hitched a ride on an ocean freighter and, of course, in the two decades since then, the zebra mussel has become legendary for the many millions of dollars in damage it has caused to its new habitat.

But it didn't come alone: Since the seaway opened, scientists estimate that as many as 57 foreign species (about one-third of the 185 now on record and almost all of those that have been found in the past 50 years) have arrived in the ballast water shed by saltwater ships. They have displaced native plants and animals, decimated fish stocks, even disrupted power plants.

The seaway is hardly the only cause of the Great Lakes' decline – aquaculture and recreational boating have done much damage, along with pollution from industry and agriculture – but many scientists believe that it is responsible for the most harm, and certainly let in the most destructive intruders.

Even worse, environmentalists point out, government agencies that regulate the seaway and shipping have been painfully slow to react. Only in the past two years have seaway authorities on both sides of the border made it mandatory that all ships – including those with just small amounts of ballast from ports overseas – flush their tanks in the ocean before entering the seaway. Even that isn't necessarily foolproof. Flushing may kill 95 per cent of what is in the tanks, but a troublemaker could survive.

So, 20 years after the zebra mussel arrived, “the threat still remains,” says Jennifer Nalbone, an analyst with Great Lakes United, a cross-border environmental coalition. “It's a very sober anniversary.”

Assessing the economic value of the seaway – and whether the environmental toll and human costs have been justified – is complicated. There is no doubt that having lots of cheap hydro as well as a watery highway has been important to manufacturing cities on the Great Lakes.

Statistics released this week show that more than 2.5 billion tonnes of cargo worth more than $375-billion have passed through the seaway, most of it between Canadian and U.S. ports.

Even so, annual tallies for “salties” have never reached the predictions made on opening day, and the early glow of having ready access to European markets – the romantic focus of those “glossy, flossy” celebrations – soon faded. Demand for grain moved to the west, other markets shifted as well, and long-distance container vessels grew too big to fit in the seaway's locks.

“It was a noble idea – it's been very valuable for domestic bulk cargo,” says John Taylor, a transport specialist at Grand Valley State University in Grand Rapids, Mich. “But the seaway has been ‘locked' in time. The world has evolved and the seaway has not been able to evolve with it.”

Today, as Mr. Alexander points out in Pandora's Locks, only about 5 per cent of the world's container fleet can even squeeze into the Great Lakes. By 2007, the volume of cargo carried by ocean-going vessels had dropped to nine million tonnes from a high of 23 million in 1978, and even that figure was well off early expectations.

Prof. Taylor says the salties could be replaced by as few as two 100-car freight trains running each day of the year. A study he co-wrote in 2005 calculated that the cost of closing the locks to transoceanic ships at roughly $55-million, a figure that is widely criticized by the shipping industry but is just a fraction of the $200-million environmental toll he estimates the seaway has taken on the Great Lakes.

But the seaway also has ardent defenders, who make a convincing case that it will play an increasingly important role as transportation costs rise and, ironically, the environment becomes an even greater concern. Because the loads can be so huge, transporting goods by ship uses, on average, far less fuel and doesn't clog up already congested highways.

“One ship can take 800 trucks off the road,” says Bruce Bowie, president of the Canadian Shipowners Association.

In addition, the shipping industry is lobbying to have removed the 25-per-cent duty the government charges on vessels built outside Canada, which, he says, has prevented companies from making their fleets even more environmentally efficient. Steps have been taken to modernize the locks, and an incentive program lured nearly two billion tonnes of new cargo to the route last year, according to the seaway corporation. But drawing even more business by staying open through the winter would be costly, and major renovations required down the road will cost more than the seaway currently earns.

As for banishing the salties, Mr. Bowie calls it a “sledgehammer solution” that would only limit future economic growth. The seaway needs to be ready to capture some emerging market abroad, he says, just as lakers have suddenly picked up solid business in the past few years by carrying low-sulphur coal to power plants on the East Coast.

But future prospects aside, it has been a rocky 50 years for Highway H{-2}O, as the seaway has been branded by the development corporation that now oversees it, and this anniversary is not the exuberant celebration of that June day half a century past. To a large extent, the seaway's prospects depend on the global path of supply and demand. But the next half-century will decide whether it can sell itself as a clean, energy-efficient water route and earn the place in history that the Queen once said it deserved.

Erin Anderssen is a Globe and Mail feature writer.

***

HOW A EUROPEAN CARGO SHIP KILLS A GREAT LAKES LOON

Two years ago, a tiny shrimp-like creature with a creepy name – the bloody red mysid – was discovered in Lake Ontario, the latest in a long line of foreign invaders believed to have arrived by cargo ship through the St. Lawrence Seaway.

Ravenous, it travels in packs and upsets the food chain wherever it takes up residence. It's still too early to predict how much damage the bloody red mysid will do to its new home, but scientists aren't about to rule out the worst.

They know this from experience. Here is how researchers believe that one early interloper, travelling in the belly of a boat from another continent, has led to thousands of loons washing up dead on the shores of the Great Lakes.

1. A freighter leaves a European port, bound for ports such as Duluth, Minn., on the southwest shore of Lake Superior, or Thunder Bay, to the north. Sloshing around in the bowel of the ship is a muddy mix of sand and water – the ballast used to maintain the vessel's stability as it traverses the oceans. The amount of ballast depends on how much cargo the ship is carrying, but even fully loaded ships that technically need “no ballast on board” – called NoBObs – still have some leftover slop in their holds. Foreign freshwater species from ports near rivers are pumped in with the water, and because of faster travel times, they survive the ocean crossing. On one occasion at least – but probably many more times – the stowaway is a striped, freshwater mollusk, the quagga mussel, or its cousin, the zebra mussel.

2. The freighter makes it way up the St. Lawrence, through the locks and canals, usually offloading its cargo at ports such as Hamilton as it moves west through the system into Lake Superior, dumping its ballast as needed. Sometimes the foreign marine life dies: The season is off, or its numbers are too small, or the location proves inhospitable. “An invasion is a roulette wheel spin,” says Anthony Ricardi, a biologist at McGill University in Montreal. “You may not get in on the first try, but keep trying and you get in.”

This time, the species gets in, and flourishes. Soon, zebra mussels, first discovered in Lake St. Clair, have hopped into the other lakes, carried by other ballast loads or hitching a ride on the hulls of various boats.

3. Zebra mussels spread like a contagion across the lake bottom, sucking life out of the water, filtering everything around them. They probably breed undiscovered for a decade or more. To boaters above, the lakes seem clearer, when, in fact, a deathly brew is stewing. With more light and the waters warming, weedy algae called Cladophora begin to grow. (The algae do their own damage: In 2007, weeds clogged intake pipes and forced a nuclear-power plant in New York State to close three times.)

4. When the algae die and decompose, they suck oxygen out of the water, and in that environment, the botulism bacteria thrives. It, in turn, is sucked up by the voracious quagga and zebra mussels.

5. The only fish that eats the mussels is itself a non-native – the round goby, an aggressive bottom-dweller that scientists believe also was probably introduced by transoceanic ships in the early 1990s.

6. The goby eats the botulism-carrying mussels and then along comes the loon, fishing for its dinner. The goby, especially if it is sick and slowed by the bacteria in its system, makes for an easy catch. The botulism spreads to the loon.

7. The loon dies, to be found belly-up on shore.

Scientists call this “invasional meltdown.” Since the St. Lawrence Seaway opened, 57 non-native species are believed to have invaded the Great Lakes through the ballast of ocean-crossing ships. New regulations require all ships to flush out their tanks before entering, but biologists point out that, unlike chemical spills, it takes only one ballast dump to introduce an environmentally disastrous life form.

Scientists such as Dr. Ricardi are now watching for the arrival of another species dubbed the “killer shrimp” – which is tiny and insatiable, and snacks on much larger creatures. “It's an amazing little beast,” he says. “That one might cause trouble if it gets over here.”

How much trouble, scientists can't be certain. After all, when zebra mussels were discovered in 1988, no one was thinking of loons belly-up in 2007.

“Who could have predicted that?” Dr. Ricardi asks. “We can figure it out now, we think. But risks assessment of the zebra mussel would never have considered that. You put some invaders together, you change some conditions around, you mix it all together and you get this witches' brew that leads to ecological surprises like this.”

***

Environment by the numbers

1981 Environment Canada report sounds first alarm about ballast water from ocean-going vessels bringing non-native aquatic life into the Great Lakes

1988 Two biology students discover a single zebra mussel in Lake St. Clair

1989 Zebra mussels clog an intake pipe, cutting off water to the city of Monroe, Mich., on Lake Erie

2006 Canadian authorities officially order all ships, including those carrying only small amounts of ballast, to flush their tanks with salt water

2008 American authorities follow suit

57 Number of invasive, non-native species believed to have been introduced into the Great Lakes by ship ballast from transcontinental ships

$200-million Estimated annual cost (in U.S. dollars) of environmental and economic damage done by these species

$55-million Estimate of increase in annual shipping costs if the seaway was closed to transoceanic vessels

Source: Prof. John Taylor, University of Notre Dame and Pandora's Locks by Jeff Alexander

***

Go figures

2.5 billion Tonnes of cargo shipped through the seaway locks since 1959

3,700 Length in kilometres of the Seaway from Sept-Iles, Que., to Duluth, Minn.

4,900 Distance in kilometres from Halifax to Paris, France

306 Length in kilometres of the seaway from Montreal to Lake Ontario

77 Length in kilometres of the Panama Canal

180 Height in metres that locks raise ships, from sea level to Lake Superior

92 Height in metres of the Peace Tower at Parliament

147 million Cubic metres of earth removed during construction

4.4 million Cubic metres of concrete poured

90 million Litres of water needed to carry one ship through the largest seaway locks

Source: St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corp.; The St. Lawrence Seaway and Power Project: An Oral History of the Greatest Construction Show on Earth

***

‘GREATEST CONSTRUCTION SHOW ON EARTH'

The 306-kilometre stretch between Montreal and Lake Ontario – four times as long as the Panama Canal – is still recognized as one of the world's most impressive engineering accomplishments.

In less than five years, 22,000 carpenters, engineers and labourers dredged a vast expanse of winding water, silenced rapids, buried islands, moved entire villages, carved canals and poured concrete into the dams and locks that would keep the water under control.

Dubbed the “Greatest Construction Show on Earth” by one of its administrators, the seaway tested the engineering resources of the day. The various sections were built at the same time, requiring planners to ensure that one site was not flooded at the expense of another and that the shipping channel remained open even during construction.

At the Moses-Saunders hydroelectric dam, the Canadians and American started on opposite shores and met in the middle. The seaway had to be deep enough to allow freighters through, but not so deep that there wasn't enough current to generate power.

“The fact that they could do something like that with the equipment and technology they had 50 years ago is amazing,” says Claire Parham, an American historian who gathered the recollections of workers and managers into a new book, The St. Lawrence Seaway and Power Project.

“They managed to figure it out and it still works.”

With three dams and seven locks, the finished product could lift inbound ships 75 metres above sea level, using just water and gravity.

***

Economic realities

80 Percentage of the world's merchants ships that could travel through the seaway in 1959

5 Percentage of the global container fleet still small enough to fit in 2005

4 Percentage of seaway's total traffic that is transoceanic

30.5 Total cargo in millions of tonnes carried on the seaway in 1960

74.3 Total cargo in millions of tonnes in 1979

40.7 Total cargo in millions of tonnes in 2008

9,078 Number of vessels using the seaway in 1960

4,232 Number of vessels in 2008

240 Kilometres that a tonne of freight can travel by ship on a single litre of fuel

100 Kilometres by train

30 Kilometres by truck

2.7 Billions of dollars saved annually in transportation and handling costs by using seaway instead of other modes of transport

Sources: St Lawrence Seaway Management Corp.; Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway Study, fall 2007, Pandora's Locks.

***

THE LOST VILLAGES

The drowning of the villages happened the way a bathtub fills with water.

To make room for the seaway, a large swath of St. Lawrence shoreline had to be flooded, displacing 6,500 people – and more than a few coffins from cemeteries. At 8 a.m. on July 1, 1958, Ontario Hydro engineers blew up a coffer dam that had been built to hold back the mighty river while the ground was being cleared and the houses moved.

Watching from the edges of their now-empty, flattened communities, stripped bare even of trees, residents watched the water trickle in, swamping properties that, for many families, dated back generations.

For four days, the river seeped in – covering one concrete step at a time at a park in Farran's Point, puddling in the pit that had been dug for a future marina, and rising, metre by metre, to the ribbon of trucked-in sand that would become the beach on Long Sault Lake. Life would start over for the residents in new homes or old ones that been transplanted, in the specially designed villages of Long Sault and Ingleside.

This month, several residents, who remember the move and the flood that followed, gathered at the Lost Villages Museum in Long Sault, and shared their childhood memories of the homes the seaway stole away.

Vale Brownwell, 62, was the lock man's daughter at Farran's Point and in Grade 6, when village was flooded: We lived on the canal bank, [in] a two-storey brick house, so it was torn down. We built a brick house in Ingleside, a bungalow. But we watched the other houses being moved. My history teacher, he went home one night from school, and his wife said, ‘We are moving tomorrow. And we are not to touch anything, not take a picture off the wall.' So before they left, she put a Mason jar on the window sill, filled with water…and it was still there when the house was put on the foundation in Ingleside.

Jane Craig, now 64, was 11 when her hometown of Moulinette was flooded. Her parents ran a hotel that was torn down, so the family built a new house in Long Sault: For me, it was pretty thrilling. But I could see from my mom and dad, it was horrible. They were losing their livelihood and everything they had worked for all their lives. One day [Ontario Hydro] came along and cut all the trees in the backyard. My dad cried that day. And, of course, as a teenager, boy, that really affects you, when you see your dad cry.

Rosemary Rultey, 73, was born in the lost hamlet of Woodlands: There was one lady who didn't live very long after she had to move. She had been uprooted. Her family had been in that farm area for generations. [In Ingleside,] she had running water, central heating, all of this stuff. But you didn't see that tree out in the yard, you didn't hear the rapids you were used to hearing. The whole move was very hard on her.

Jane Craig: I know one man who went fishing every day, and he never came home with fish. Somebody asked him, and he said, ‘I just go out and sit [in my boat] over my old foundation….”Vale Brownell: People still feel, whether they have moved to Indiana, California, Peterborough, wherever, that this is still home. …Their village isn't there, but they still consider this home.
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Old July 17th, 2009, 10:41 PM   #12
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Top 10 river cruises for 2009
Reuters
11 July 2009

Some cash-conscious travellers are discovering river cruising holidays where their boat is their hotel and they wake up with a new view every day. Cruise website CruiseCritic.co.uk has come up with a list of the top 10 rivers for cruising in 2009.

1. Danube

A great choice for first-timers. Travel from Germany to the Black Sea, visiting Austria, Hungary, Croatia, Serbia, Romania and Bulgaria. Cruise lines that operate on the Danube include Peter Deilmann Cruises and Uniworld.

2. Douro

The River Douro travels from Spain through the rural scenery of northern Portugal to the city of Porto, visiting restored palaces, places of pilgrimage, cultural centres and vineyards. Uniworld and CroisiEurope are among the cruise lines which operate there.

3. Yangtze

A cruise on this great river combines the opportunity to see some spectacular scenery, experience modern China, and visit some of the country's great historic landmarks. Viking River Cruises and Avalon Waterways are some of the operators that sail the Yangtze.

4. Rhine

The Rhine offers a huge choice of cruises as it flows from the Alps into the North Sea, through Switzerland, Germany, France and Holland. Many cruise lines -- including Swan Hellenic River Cruises and Peter Deilmann River Cruises -- offer Rhine cruises.

5. Rhone

River Rhone cruises travel through Provence and the south of France, taking in an area renowned for its fine wines and culinary delights. Operators include Swan Hellenic River Cruises and French Country Waterways.

6. Nile

Visit the sights of ancient Egypt, such as the Pyramids and Sphinx, Valley of the Kings and Temples of Ramses. Also experience some of African wildlife. Nile cruise operators include Discover Egypt and Blue Water Holidays.

7. Murray

Cruise through Australia's outback, and see million-year-old gorges, golden sandstone cliffs towering over lagoons and majestic, red-gum forests. Cruise operators include Blue Water Holidays and Captain Cook Cruises.

8. Volga

Travel the waterways of the czars, the scenic rivers, canals and lakes that connect Russia's two old imperial capitals, Moscow and St. Petersburg. Providers include All Russia Cruises and Uniworld.

9. Mekong River

An exotic cruise through Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand takes in some of South East Asia's ancient cities, temples and natural wonders. Cruise lines here include Pandaw River Cruises.

10. St. Lawrence Seaway

Take in two of Canada's most fascinating cities -- Montreal and Ottawa. Options include cruises from Titan HiTours.
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Old July 23rd, 2009, 07:23 PM   #13
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Engineering marvel opened Great Lakes trade, observes 50th anniversary far from spotlight
10 July 2009

MASSENA, N.Y. (AP) - Working 90 feet above the ground, pouring buckets of concrete that would harden into a 195-foot-high dam the length of 11 football fields, a teenage Frank Wicks knew even then he wasn't on just another job.

"We had a real sense of excitement. At the time it was going on, it was the world's biggest construction project. We knew we were part of history," said Wicks, who worked on construction of the St. Lawrence Seaway after graduating from Massena High School in 1957.

"I remember growing up, people were always talking about it. Now, it's kind of been forgotten," said Wicks, now 70 and a mechanical engineering professor at Union College in Schenectady, N.Y.

Hailed as one of North America's top engineering marvels and one of the most important public works of the 20th century, the $470 million project -- of which Canada funded $336 million and the U.S. about $134 million -- linked the Great Lakes interior industrial hubs to the Atlantic Ocean.

It was branded by some as obsolete before it was even finished and today is an obscure footnote in history for many Americans. Yet for a half century it was the defining issue in American-Canadian relations and even now is regarded as one of the country's most durable deeds of diplomacy.

Stretching 265 miles along the U.S. border with Canada from Montreal to Lake Ontario, the Seaway replaced the river's old 14-foot-deep, 30-lock canal system with 27-foot-deep channels, 15 locks and an international hydrodam.

Since it opened in 1959, more than 2.5 billion tons of cargo -- mostly grain, iron ore and steel -- valued at more than $375 billion have passed through the Seaway.

The Moses-Saunders dam provides low-cost power to more than 1 million consumers in the two countries.

Queen Elizabeth II, President Dwight Eisenhower and Vice President Richard Nixon came to Massena to christen the shipping route. Fifty years later, there will be no royal or presidential appearances during a weekend of 50th anniversary events that began Thursday -- possibly a statement about the Seaway's present and future.

As the global economy has faltered, freight levels have dropped for the past two years and cargo levels were down 40 percent for the first two months of the current shipping season, according to Seaway officials.

"Over its time, it has played a major role in the economy of the Great Lakes. In the future, it can still be a very relevant feature to the region's economy, even if it's just one of many features," said Collister Johnson Jr., administrator for the St. Lawrence Seaway Development Corp., which runs the American portions of the system.

The Seaway was created between 1954 and 1959 by taming a 44-mile stretch of rapids, temporarily diverting the St. Lawrence River and flooding six Canadian villages. More than 22,000 workers excavated 360 million tons of earth and poured 6 million cubic yards of concrete, completing the project three years ahead of schedule.

The idea of northern deep-water shipping route was first raised by a joint U.S.-Canadian commission in the 1890s. For the next half-century, U.S. and Canadian politicians debated its merits.

Cold War-era American politicians were finally won over by the Seaway's national security potential -- an inland waterway protected ships and submarines in the event of an attack -- and its potential for fostering industrial growth in America's heartland, while Canada desperately needed the power from the dam, said Claire Puccia Parham, a history instructor at Siena College in Loudonville, N.Y., and author of the recently published "The St. Lawrence Seaway and Power Project: An Oral History of the Greatest Construction Show on Earth."

"It's in an isolated location and it basically sits there doing nothing spectacular. Most Americans are unaware of the Herculean accomplishment the Seaway was in terms of engineering, construction and diplomacy," said Parham, who interviewed more than four dozen former workers for her book, including Wicks.

The Seaway is credited with creating and preserving millions of jobs in Canada and the Great Lakes states but it did little to transform New York's North Country.

For a five-year span during its construction, the project brought widespread prosperity to the region. The influx of outsiders also brought a fleeting jolt of cultural awakening and worldliness to the less sophisticated, tradition-steeped rural communities.

"Locally, it turned out most benefits were short-lived," said Brian Chezum, a labor economics professor at St. Lawrence University in Canton, N.Y. "The Seaway was viable as a commercial venture largely because of the benefits generated by hydropower. This stands in sharp contrast to the estimates that were used to support the project which generally expected a much larger impact from navigation."

Although an engineering milestone, the project had its blemishes. The locks were supposed to be 100 feet wide, but the American government capitulated to Canadian shippers and kept the locks at 80 feet. That meant the transoceanic freighters would have to unload in Montreal, and then pay local companies to take their cargo the rest of the way on smaller ships.

"It could have been more than it was. People said it was obsolete the day it was completed because it wasn't big enough for oceangoing vessels," said Parham.

On the positive side, not allowing transoceanic vessels into Lake Ontario likely preserved The Thousand Islands region as a recreational destination.

"Tourism wasn't something they talked about in the 1950s, but it has been maybe the one lasting benefit for the local region," Chezum said.

While the Seaway has had a productive past, officials concede its future is uncertain.

This year marks the beginning of the biggest infrastructure investment in the Seaway's history. In March, Congress nearly doubled the Seaway's annual budget to $32 million. The extra money, like a similar Canadian investment, is part of a 10-year project to modernize and maintain the system.
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Old November 30th, 2009, 05:52 PM   #14
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St Lawrence Seaway To End Canada Navigation Season In Late Dec
16 November 2009

WINNIPEG (Dow Jones)--The navigation season on the Montreal/Lake Ontario section of the St. Lawrence Seaway will officially come to a close on Dec. 24, a release from the St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation said.

However, any transit in the Montreal-Lake Ontario section of the Seaway after Dec. 24, if permitted, will be subject to prior written agreement.

The Welland Canal portion of the St. Lawrence Seaway will remain open until 23:59 hours Dec. 26, weather and operating conditions permitting, the release said.

However, any transits of the Welland Canal after Dec. 26, if permitted, will be subject to prior written agreement.

The release also said the official closing date for the Sault Ste. Marie Locks is Jan. 15.

Vessel owners and operators were also being advised that a number of ports east of the Seaway on the St. Lawrence River will remain open to navigation during the winter months.

Navigation on the St. Lawrence Seaway will resume sometime in March 2010, with the actual date dependent on when the ice breaks up.
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Old March 29th, 2010, 12:18 PM   #15
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Welland Canal opened today, six days earlier than last year
25 March 2010
The Buffalo News

Mar. 25--The Welland Canal opened for the season on Thursday, with the captain of the tug/barge MarineLink Explorer, owned by the Upper Lakes Group, receiving the "top hat" honor as the first upbound vessel through the canal this season. The opening comes six days earlier than last year.

The opening marks the 52nd navigation season for the St. Lawrence Seaway, which includes the Welland Canal. Seaway officials project that tonnage volume for 2010 will rise 10 to 12 percent from a dismal showing in 2009.

Richard Corfe, president and chief executive officer of the St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corp., said iron ore and steel volumes aren't expected to return to their historic highs anytime in the near future. "This realization leads us to conclude that the Seaway must redouble its efforts to both retain its current users and diversify its client base," he said in a statement.

The canal opened on March 31 last year.
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Old July 21st, 2010, 04:21 PM   #16
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Montreal port idled a second day by labor dispute

VANCOUVER, July 20 (Reuters) - Shipping though Montreal's port, Canada's second busiest, was halted for a second day on Tuesday, although mediated sessions to end the labor dispute are expected to resume later this week.

The courts granted the Montreal Port Authority a limited injunction on Tuesday, allowing work on infrastructure projects unrelated to the dispute between port employers and unionized longshoremen.

The Maritime Employers Association locked out the more than 800 workers on Monday, saying it was responding to "union pressure tactics", such as a refusal to work overtime, which were slowing freight traffic.

The union, which denounced the lockout but nonetheless set up picket lines, said on Tuesday it was preparing a proposal to end the shutdown. The workers are represented by a unit of the Canadian Union of Public Employees.

Representatives of CUPE and the employer are scheduled to meet with a government-appointed mediator on Thursday and Friday, to hold negotiating sessions that had been tentatively scheduled before the lockout began.

The mediator has been trying to help the two sides reach a deal that would replace the contract that expired at the end of 2008, according to the union.

The sides are at odds over issues including seniority and pay guarantees.

The federal government has called for the dispute to be resolved quickly, but has not said if will attempt to legislate an end to the lockout. Labour Minister Lisa Raitt's spokeswoman was unavailable for comment on Tuesday.

Montreal's port, which handled more than 1.2 million containers with about 11.3 million tonnes of cargo last year, is a hub for goods being shipped to and from Eastern Canada and parts of the United States.

It also handled nearly 7.8 million tonnes of liquid bulk and 2.9 million tonnes of dry bulk last year. A separate grain terminal can receive bulk cargo by water during the dispute, but cannot ship by vessel.

Although the lockout has disrupted freight shipments in and out of Montreal, there are currently no vessels in the port requiring longshoremen, according to the Port Authority.

Montreal's port normally receives an average of 7 vessels per day.

Both Canadian Pacific Railway and Canadian National Railway have stopped hauling container traffic to and from the port.
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Old December 3rd, 2010, 07:43 AM   #17
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"Montreal's port normally receives an average of 7 vessels per day."

Wow, that's pretty sounds great. By the way how big is the Montreal's port?

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Last edited by lizayuen; January 6th, 2011 at 06:46 AM.
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Old January 13th, 2011, 03:23 AM   #18
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Port of Montreal poised for return to profit
Despite increase in traffic, capacity restraints and competition from deep-water ports a major challenge
11 January 2011
The Globe and Mail

MONTREAL -- A rising global tide of shipping is finally buoying revenues at the Port of Montreal, but significant challenges remain for the inland facility – including competition from deep-water ports able to accommodate the world's ever-larger ships.

Reduced shipping activity over the past few years forced the Montreal Port Authority to scale back ambitious expansion plans for the sprawling facility. Then, last summer, a potentially crippling labour dispute was settled after a three-day lockout.

But in 2011, the inland port, which runs 26 kilometres along the St. Lawrence River, is poised for a robust performance, president and chief executive officer Sylvie Vachon says.

It's too early to confirm, but the port could end up turning a profit in 2010 after posting a net loss of $21.7-million in 2009, Ms. Vachon said in an interview. Preliminary figures point to a 4.5-per-cent growth in volume – both container and bulk – handled at the port last year, she noted.

In 2009, the total for all types of cargo handled fell 12 per cent to 24.5 million tonnes from the previous year. For 2010, it looks like the total will have rebounded to 25.6 million tonnes, Ms. Vachon said.

The gains are pretty much in line with those at major port facilities around the world as the economy rebounds and trade in commodities and consumer products picks up.

For Ms. Vachon, the first priority is ensuring Montreal's port remains one of North America's major inland transshipment facilities.

It is working to reduce its dependence on northern Europe, and “we're beginning to see results,” said Ms. Vachon, who took over the top job in 2009. The port is drumming up more business with shipping lines that sail out of Mediterranean ports as part of that strategy.

But major constraints on physical expansion limit how much new traffic it can take on, she said. “As the economy rebounds, capacity becomes a major factor.”

The port's management team is looking at expansion options, including going off the Island of Montreal to build a new container facility at Contrecoeur, on the South Shore.

However, the slowdown in activity over the past few years has put a major dent in the port's ambitious growth plans. A target of tripling container capacity to 4.3 million twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) by 2020 has been abandoned. The more modest goal now is 2 million TEUs by 2016.

The port also had to contend with the impact of a potentially crippling labour dispute last summer involving about 900 longshoremen. The damage was for the most part contained when a settlement was reached.

Although Montreal enjoys an excellent position as an intermodal port that acts as a key gateway to Canada and the U.S. Midwest, capacity limitations present a significant problem, said Claude Comtois, a port and shipping expert at the University of Montreal.

The port is also hobbled by the fact that it can't accommodate the ever-larger ships being built, which require deep-water facilities, he said.

“It pushes the port to the sidelines in terms of the big global shipping networks that are being created.”

Ben Hackett, managing director at Hackett Associates Ltd. in Washington D.C., agreed.

“Looking forward, fundamentally, the economies of scale favour the U.S. deep-water ports, like Norfolk [Va.]. The carriers prefer to use the bigger ships for economies of scale,” he said.

“There's not much that Montreal can do about this.”

Mary Brooks, commercial shipping and ports expert in the faculty of management at Dalhousie University, believes Montreal can continue to thrive as a niche player, however. “There is a good straight run for shippers from northern Europe to the U.S. Midwest” that the Port of Montreal can continue to service as long as it continues to do a top-notch job of providing services, she said.
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Old March 20th, 2011, 04:40 PM   #19
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Thunder Bay wants o be gateway to West
Port sees rise in shipments to Alberta
4 March 2011
Calgary Herald

As the province's energy sector begins to heat up again, an eastern port is watching the market closely.

Last year, all of the inbound freight at the Port of Thunder Bay was destined for Alberta, whether it was wind turbines for the Taber area, bringing in pieces for Suncor or Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. projects, or moving through the components of Calgary's Santiago Calatrava-designed Peace Bridge.

"So far (this year) inbound cargo has been mostly Alberta," said Tim Heney, CEO of the Thunder Bay Port Authority.

As well, an Edmonton company shipped an entire methanol plant, broken into pieces, to China through the port.

He and Bruce Hodgson, director of market development for the St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corp., were in town this week to talk to potential clients about using "the marine gateway to the west."

Hodgson said they're being told oilsands projects will be gearing back up in the latter part of this year, "based on what's happening with oil prices."

When companies need to move huge pieces of equipment or plants components from overseas to landlocked Alberta, there are really two options -the West Coast or from the east, moving through the St. Lawrence Seaway, the Great Lakes and landing in Thunder Bay.

The Rocky Mountains present a barrier for extremely large, heavy cargo, Heney said, because of the grades and clearances.

When Imperial Oil was looking at how to move modules for its massive $8-billion Kearl oilsands project -modules made in Korea, with some weighing in at 260 tonnes, 64 metres long and nine metres high -it looked at a number of possible routes.

"We did assess and consider routes other than Washington," spokesman Pius Rolheiser said of the U.S. port where the pieces are coming to shore. "Including the Seaway.

"Length of the ocean voyage was one consideration."

Imperial Oil is bringing in the more than 200 pieces to the port at Vancouver, Washington, barging them into Idaho and then moving them via truck to Fort McMurray. Last month it decided to break the mega truck loads into smaller shipments so they can travel on major highways.

Heney said the longer a shipment can travel on water, compared to land, the less of an environmental footprint it leaves.

He and Hodgson said most of the Thunder Bay Port's destinations right now, either coming or going, are in Europe, North Africa and Latin America.

"A lot of cargo for the oilsands comes through Houston," Heney said, pointing to its weekly liner service. "We see an opportunity to get some of that traffic.

"We'd eventually like to see (scheduled service) in Thunder Bay as well."

But to schedule regular ships, there needs to be enough cargo being both exported and imported to justify the trips, Hodgson said.

While wheat shipments account for the majority of outbound traffic -the Canadian Wheat Board purchased two ships of its own this year -they're working to increase inbound traffic, and not just large projects that require an entire ship but smaller pieces that are part of a larger load.
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Old April 13th, 2011, 09:28 AM   #20
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St. Lawrence Seaway reopens after 10-hour shutdown after tugboats free stranded ship
1 April 2011

MONTREAL (AP) - Tugboats quickly freed a massive cargo ship that had been grounded in the St. Lawrence Seaway, which shut down the major shipping seaway along the U.S.-Canada border for several hours.

Two tugs needed only about five minutes on Thursday afternoon to free the Liberian-registered BBC Steinhoelft, which had been grounded for about 10 hours, a seaway spokesman said. Eight vessels were delayed by the grounding.

The tugboats then escorted the 20,000-ton ship to the Port of Montreal, where is was to be inspected for damage.

There were no injuries among the 20 people on board and no environmental damage, officials said.
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