The St. Lawrence Seaway concluded its 2008 navigation season on December 30th with the passage of the Canadian Coast Guard’s Martha L. Black. The vessel, which transited the St. Lambert Lock at 01:12 hours, established a Seaway navigation season for 2008 that spanned 280 days.
The Welland Canal remained open to navigation until December 31st, as the Canadian Coast Guard’s Griffon cleared bridge 21 adjacent to Lock 8 at 02:31 hours. Total Seaway cargo volume for 2008 is estimated to amount to 40.7 million tonnes. The decrease in cargo volume is due principally to lower imports of steel products and exports of grain.
The Seaway marked a number of significant achievements in 2008, including the establishment of uniform ballast water management standards for all vessels. The combined efforts of Canadian and U.S. inspectors ensures that no vessel is granted admission to Seaway waters without first complying with ballast water management practices that are among the most stringent in the world today. “Both Seaway corporations in conjunction with the U.S. Coast Guard and Transport Canada play a vital role in helping to protect the Great Lakes against the future introduction of ship-vectored invasive species" said Terry Johnson, Administrator of the U.S. Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation.
The St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation (SLSMC)concluded a new three year labour agreement with its unionized workers. The contract includes the necessary flexibility for the Corporation to move ahead with the development of new technology, which is expected to improve the system’s productivity and increase worker safety. “The Corporation has been transparent with respect to its plans to achieve a sustainable business model, and is encouraged by the common ground that we have found with the CAW on critical issues” noted the SLSMC’s Richard Corfe.
A highlight of the SLSMC’s commitment to sustainable development was the commissioning of two new hydropower plants on the Welland Canal by Rankin Renewable Power Inc. When the third plant is operational in 2009, enough energy will be generated to power nearly 5,000 homes, reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 38,900 tonnes of CO2 per year, the equivalent of taking 8,420 passenger cars off the road.
Since its inception in 1959, over 2.4 billion tonnes valued in excess of $350b has been transported via the Seaway. The Seaway will be marking its 50th anniversary with a special opening ceremony at the St. Lambert Lock in March 2009.