Opinion: Stop closing St. Lawrence Seaway so late in year, Lisbon resident says
Friday, January 12, 2018 - 8:13 am

To the Editor:

A few years ago, I did research on closing dates for the St. Lawrence Seaway. The dates vary from year to year, but the overall trend has been to close the Seaway later and later. We have been warned in the past about the risks. What if an accident occurs right at the end of the season? What if the weather suddenly turns frigid?

Now, thanks to events surrounding the Pacific Huron and the Federal Biscay, we see how things can play out in reality. Having run aground off Wellesley Island, 1000 feet outside the shipping channel, the Pacific Huron is delayed for two days until it is refloated and towed off the shoals. What if it had been a tanker with a cargo of crude oil? What if the hull had been damaged? Serious accidents have happened in that section of the river before. Remediation would be difficult at this time of year. A few days later, the Federal Biscay arrives at Snell lock with too much broken ice to enter the ice-covered lock successfully. The carrier becomes stuck and remains there for days. It is not easy for powerful tugboats to break the ship free. Other vessels in the queue are frozen in place.

Luckily, both ships were carrying soybeans, and the Pacific Huron was not damaged when it ran aground. But it's troubling. To us, the river is ecologically important and economically valuable in terms of recreation and tourism. Use of the Seaway for shipping should be managed prudently, with consideration for a worst-case scenario affecting other activities. Stop closing the Seaway so late.

Glenn Harris