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Director’s Waypoints, Winter Conference Edition

February 20th, 2018 | Posted by Lee Willbanks

Go to this edition of Director’s Waypoints

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Thank You!

January 11th, 2018 | Posted by Lee

Watertown Daily Times editorial makes the point. Breaking ice to get ships to locks they can’t get through once they’re there just doesn’t make sense.

   Watertown Daily Times, January 11, 2018

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Seaway Closing Update

January 9th, 2018 | Posted by Lee

from the Seaway:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We look forward to the opportunity for a discussion of the time and manner of selecting and modifying the opening and closing dates of the Seaway. Particularly in light of increasing variability in weather on the Lake and River.

We appreciate the fact that the challenging and dangerous nature of some incidents requires extreme effort and resources. And it is always our fervent hope that any and all incidents end with no injury and no environmental harm. But as we made clear with respect to the Federal Biscay, we believe the public must get timely updates from official sources about the nature of any incident and the steps being take to bring it to a safe and successful conclusion.

We are glad the 2017 Seaway season can come to a close with the ships cleared, the crews, responders and Seaway personnel safe and the River laying up while we all wait for spring.

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Federal Biscay Now Freed from Snell Lock

January 6th, 2018 | Posted by Lee
Statement from the Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation on the Federal Biscay being freed from the Snell Lock earlier today.
 
Per the Seaway an update will be issued when the five ships awaiting transit downbound have exited the Upper River.
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With Ship Still Stuck, Silence from the Seaway – Updated

January 5th, 2018 | Posted by Lee

Since Tuesday, the Federal Biscay, a 650+ long bulk carrier, has been stuck in the Snell Lock near Massena, the last U.S. lock on the St. Lawrence River. Up River four more ships wait for it to be cleared.

As they sit surrounded by persistent severe cold, more ice is forming on the River, raising the reasonable question of whether and when the Federal Biscay will be freed, allowing it and the other ships to exit the Upper St. Lawrence. Until then, the Seaway, which was supposed to close December 31st, remains open.

Based on the one statement the Seaway has issued it appears this prolonged delay resulted from the ship being allowed to enter the lock with significant ice present on its hull and in the lock.

In the vacuum created by the Seaway’s silence all we have to go on are tweets and social media posts by followers and watchers of shipping on the River. Other than a reported “No further updates” from the Seaway, the press has had to rely on these “sources” as well.

This, in a word, is unacceptable.

We understand that an incident like this requires an “all hands on deck” approach. But with no official updates on the Seaway’s plans and actions, the public is left to imagine the potential harm that can result from ships with full holds and presumably large quantities of fuel stopped for an indeterminate time in a freezing river? The public is left to wonder what measures are being taken to protect the environment and the health of those nearby and involved in the operation to release the ship? What plans are being made in case it cannot be released until the spring thaw?

Given the Seaway’s legal responsibility as “Captain of the Port” over the River and its enormous moral responsibility to do its part to protect the health of the River as a “shared user”, silence about its actions in response to an incident of this magnitude is a dereliction of its duty to the rest of us who share the River and rely on it remaining healthy and safe. It is reasonable to expect transparency and accountability from a public agency with such tremendous responsibility for and potential impact on our River. It is incumbent on us to demand transparency and accountability when it is not forthcoming.

It may well be that there is nothing to worry about from this incident. Perhaps only environmentally benign measures will be necessary and in a few days all five ships will be on their way.

But then what? We will still be left wondering how the decisions of when to open and close the Seaway are made? How did this incident happen? Why wasn’t the Seaway better prepared to deal with it when it did? How can it be prevented from happening again? Will there be a public inquiry?

We need to hear from the Seaway.

Lee Willbanks, Upper St.Lawrence Riverkeeper

 

Shortly after our original post the Seaway issued this statement:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Latest update on the Pacific Huron from the U.S. Coast Guard

December 31st, 2017 | Posted by Lee

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Winter Icebreaking on the St. Lawrence River?

August 18th, 2016 | Posted by Lee

2013 Ice on the River at Clayton“We [Save The River and the River community] remain vigilant to any renewed efforts for destructive ice-breaking for winter shipping and we stand ready to block it again.”

In a August 17 story by Brian Kelly the Watertown Daily Times covers the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Governors and Premiers Maritime Transportation Strategy that, among other things, “suggests ways the shipping season could be extended.”

Ice-breaking on the St. Lawrence River has not and will not be appropriate – either economically or environmentally.

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Transporting oil via pipelines carries risks

March 1st, 2016 | Posted by admin

Originally published in the Watertown Daily Times on March 1, 2016, from Lee Willbanks Upper St. Lawrence Riverkeeper and Save The River Executive Director.

In response to Wednesday’s editorial: “Cruising to Disaster“, Save The River would like to express our enthusiastic support of the editors’ position on the dangers and inappropriate risks of winter navigation on the St. Lawrence River. . . [however] while pipelines may be safer, they are by no means fail safe.

Click here for the full text of the Riverkeeper’s letter.

Kalamazoo River Spill (from EPA)

Kalamazoo River Spill (from EPA)

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Oil Shipments, Winter Navigation, Seaway Expansion – Oh My!

February 23rd, 2016 | Posted by admin

NEPCO 140

from today’s Watertown Daily Times story by Brian Kelly,

Revival of old idea(s) meets resistance

Some bad old ideas never seem to die. But to couple it with a new really bad idea – oil shipments on the St. Lawrence River – is no joke.

For the entire bad story click here: http://ow.ly/YEWyK

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Thousand Islands shipping halted after sugar freighter runs aground

April 21st, 2015 | Posted by admin

Published by the Watertown Daily Time on April 21, 2015

“Shipping along the St. Lawrence Seaway has been halted after a freighter carrying sugar ran aground under the Thousand Islands Bridge early Monday.

Lt. Brian T. Hillman, a spokesman for the U.S. Coast Guard based in Buffalo, said the 621-foot-long freighter, named Juno, called for help about 1 a.m. Monday. No cargo or fuel was spilled into the waterway, he said, and no crew injuries were reported.

The Coast Guard said Monday evening the vessel was listing slightly to port with 18 feet of water in the forward peak of the vessel.

The ship, flagged in the Bahamas, was heading toward Toronto. It is owned and operated by Polska Zeg Luga Morska, P.P., a subsidiary of the O’Brien’s Group. The pilot was fully licensed.

Lt. Hillman said Coast Guard and company crews are investigating the cause of the stoppage, assessing damage to the vessel as they wait for a salvage team that is en route.

At 6:30 p.m. Monday, U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer 2nd Class Levi A. Read, based in Cleveland, said three ships were stopped because of the Juno’s grounding.

He said the Juno might not be able to leave the area until Wednesday, and the crew will stay on board the freighter in the interim.

Monday afternoon, environmental group Save the River noted the Juno was the second grounding of the just-launched season, and criticized the St. Lawrence Seaway Development Corp. for listing the waterway as “Highway H2O.”

“If the shippers want to share the use of this river with the rest of us, they must exhibit their ability to do it safely,” D. Lee Willbanks, the group’s executive director, said in a statement. “Too much is at stake for the environment and our communities who rely on a healthy river.”

On April 3, the bulk carrier CWB Marquis went aground near Beauharnois, Quebec, Canada, after hitting a large ice floe.”

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