Grounded Vessel, Fuel Spill Halts Seaway Shipping

Grounded Vessel, Fuel Spill Halts Seaway Shipping

St. Lawrence Seaway shipping halted into and out of the Montreal area Tuesday because a grain-carrying vessel ran into the Cote Ste. Catherine lock wall Monday night and spilled up to 200 tons of bunker fuel into the water.

Five other vessels now are at anchor, and as many as 10 ships may be delayed until the Cote Ste. Catherine lock is opened again for traffic "sometime tomorrow" (Wednesday), Andrew Bogora, spokesman for Canada’s St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation, said in an interview.

The Canada Steamship Lines bulk carrier Richelieu (22,734 deadweight tons), carrying grain, lost power for reasons not yet disclosed and ran into the Cote Ste. Catherine lock wall at 7:30 p.m. EDT Monday. The fuel tank breached, and Bogora said, "we believe between 50 and 200 tons of bunker fuel spilled out. We think it was nearer the lower stage, but we are not sure."

The lock, which is the second lock west of the St. Lambert lock in Montreal that marks the beginning of the Seaway proper, was sealed and no fuel is out in the adjoining areas. "It’s completely surrounded by beams," placed there by the Richelieu’s crew at first and then by a contractor, Bogora said.

The Richelieu is tied to the lock wall and navigation there was suspended, Bogora said. Five ships were being held up, waiting, at mid-morning Tuesday. Bogora thought as many as 10 would be delayed before the suspension is lifted "sometime tomorrow, perhaps tomorrow afternoon."

-- Contact Courtney Tower at ctower@sympatico.ca.