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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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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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Another Incident on the Seaway – Updated

January 3rd, 2018 | Posted by Lee

The shipping season is not ending well for the St. Lawrence Seaway. Sudden deep freeze and rapid onset of ice has presented challenges.

The Federal Biscay is stuck in the Snell Lock down bound with several other ships waiting her clearance. Including the recently grounded and re-floated Pacific Huron.

from the Maritime Bulletin

 

from the Seaway:

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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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Ship Aground off Blind Bay – Updated

December 28th, 2017 | Posted by Lee

The Pacific Huron is hard aground off Blind Bay near Twin Island since earlier this morning.

Per the Seaway Development Corporation no pollution released to River, no breach and no injuries reported. Inspectors are in route and more details will follow.

Given the weather conditions let’s hope for a speedy and uneventful re-float.

Ship’s position per Marine Traffic is Latitude / Longitude: 44.27595° / -76.03012°

Seaway press release on the grounding:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Coast Guard press release:

 

 

 

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The International Joint Commission assesses U.S. and Canadian efforts to improve Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River water quality:

December 4th, 2017 | Posted by Lee

‘Commendable progress. Much more to be done.’

We were pleased to see the scope of the findings and the recommendations in the IJC report, premised as they are on sound science and significant public input. We were also pleased to get to comment on the report in a recent Watertown Daily Times​ article, “IJC report talks water quality concerns on Lake Ontario” by Gordon Block published December 1, 2017.

In its first assessment on how the two countries are doing to meet the goals of the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement, the IJC found progress on the general objectives of accelerated restoration of contaminated Areas of Concern, the development of binational habitat conservation strategies, the absence of newly introduced aquatic invasive species, and comprehensive reporting on groundwater science.

But, and we here at Save The River​ definitely agree, the IJC finds:

– insufficient progress toward achieving human health objectives;
– insufficient progress on chemicals of mutual concern that pose a threat to the health of humans, wildlife and aquatic organisms;
– more work is required to control the spread of invasive species already in the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River;
– there is no basin-wide perspective, approach or strategy for addressing climate change;
– the governments have not fully incorporated robust public engagement into their activities; and
– they should reach beyond the limits & audiences typically recognized & should factor in consideration of environmental justice as a key objective.

There is a lot in the report for anyone who cares about the health of the Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence River and the people and communities that rely on them to be swimmable, fishable and drinkable.

The full report, “First Triennial Assessment of Progress on Great Lakes Water Quality“, is worth a read.

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Changing Currents; This Saturday, April 29th – Be There!

April 25th, 2017 | Posted by Lee

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Join Us! Click here for more details

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Environmental Documentary Featuring St. Lawrence River to Premiere in Clayton

April 17th, 2017 | Posted by Lee

 

Saturday, April 29th at 4:00pm Save The River is bringing the award-winning documentary “Changing Currents: Protecting North America’s Rivers” to the Clayton Opera House for its East Coast premiere.

The film explores the many challenges facing the St. Lawrence River and other North American waterways and highlights several significant restoration and protection efforts underway in the U.S. and Canada. It was produced by MediaLab, an award-winning, applied research and media production program based at Pacific Lutheran University (PLU) in Tacoma, Washington.

During nearly one year of research and interviews, in addition to the St. Lawrence River region, the MediaLab team traveled to cities across North America. They spoke with citizens, community leaders, elected officials, and a variety of organizations working to protect rivers in their areas. While on the St. Lawrence, they spoke to members of the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe, researchers at the St. Lawrence River Institute of Environmental Sciences, and members of Save The River.

Following the screening the filmmakers, as well as St. Lawrence region experts from New York and Ontario, will hold a discussion with the audience.

The screening, sponsored by Save The River / Upper St. Lawrence Riverkeeper, is open to the public with a suggested donation of $10.00 to support Save The River’s education programs and advocacy efforts to protect the St. Lawrence River.

Watch the trailer for the “Changing Currents” East Coast Premiere

 

from Jeff Garnsey, Save The River Board President, River guide and a participant in the film

“As a third-generation guide, I have seen firsthand the damage to the River from poor stewardship practices and thoughtless actions,” said Jeff Garnsey, River Guide and Save The River Board President. “But I have seen the positive results of informed, persistent community action. This film is a great examination of both the challenges and the successes in our efforts to restore rivers like the St. Lawrence.”

from a member of the documentary team

“River restoration has come a long way in the last 50 years,” said MediaLab member John Struzenberg, who served as the film’s chief videographer and editor. “What people don’t realize is that there is still a lot of work to be done.”

Click here for more information about the film.

About MediaLab at PLU

MediaLab is an award–winning, applied research and media production organization housed within the Center for Media Studies at Pacific Lutheran University’s School of Arts and Communication. MediaLab students work on projects across the media spectrum, including market research, photography, graphic design, web design, writing, video, public relations, event planning, filmmaking, and more.

The Changing Currents research team members are: Creative Director Rachel Lovrovich; John Struzenberg chief videographer and editor; Christopher Boettcher, social media associate; Kelly Lavelle, publicity, design, and photography; and Joshua Wiersma, assistant editor and videographer. The team was led by Robert Marshall Wells, Ph.D., an associate professor of communication at PLU and the film’s executive producer.

About Save The River / Upper St. Lawrence Riverkeeper

Since 1978 Save The River, a community-based membership not-for-profit organization, has been the leading environmental organization fighting for the ecological integrity of the St. Lawrence River. Its mission is to preserve, protect and restore the River now, and for generations to come. It delivers educational programs to students and adults about the River, its fragility, and the importance of protecting it. Save The River is committed to being a forceful advocate for policies and programs that promote clean water protections and to resist those that eliminate or weaken them.

Please consider becoming a member of Save The River to support our education programs and advocacy for a healthy St. Lawrence Riverwww.donate.savetheriver.org 

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