Seaway Closing to Cost $250Mln per Week

Maritime Activity Reports, Inc.

November 24, 2019

Bruce Burrows. Photo: Chamber of Marine Commerce

Bruce Burrows. Photo: Chamber of Marine Commerce

Closing the St. Lawrence Seaway in December to accommodate higher water outflow at the Moses-Saunders dam would cost the Canadian and U.S. economies $250 million/per week — impacting farmers’ grain exports, manufacturing plant operations and disrupting deliveries of fuel, construction materials and road salt for winter safety to cites throughout the region.

The Chamber of Marine Commerce is issuing today’s comments to provide a wider context of the economic repercussions related to calls to increase the water outflow at Moses-Saunders dam to levels that would be unsafe for navigation and halt shipping on the St. Lawrence Seaway during December.

Increasing outflows above the safe navigation limit to the highest levels possible would lower Lake Ontario levels less than 4 centimeters a week. In a closure situation, it would take more than two weeks to clear ship traffic and removal of buoys duties before outflows begin. Ice conditions could also prohibit maximum levels. This negligible reduction would come at a huge cost to commercial navigation.

“We have the greatest sympathy for Lake Ontario and St. Lawrence River residents and business owners that have been impacted by flooding due to unprecedented weather conditions.  This situation has also cost our supply chain millions of dollars,” says Chamber of Marine Commerce President Bruce Burrows.  

“Halting St. Lawrence Seaway shipping altogether would cause major harm to our economy and achieve no noticeable benefit for flooding victims. We call on the IJC and government leaders to collaborate with affected stakeholders to find solutions that look at shoreline resiliency, flood management zones and what can be done during the winter when the St. Lawrence Seaway is closed to navigation.”

The costs of stopping commercial navigation at this critical point in December will significantly affect industries that have organized their supply chains around the Seaway’s shipping season. Even if companies were able to find alternative transportation (with this very short notice), this would cost considerably more and force huge volumes of cargo onto thousands of trucks at the detriment to the environment and road congestion.

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