Shipments along the St. Lawrence Seaway continue to nudge upward thanks to increasing international demand for iron ore and coal, according to Seaway officials.
Seaway tonnage increases this year continue to nudge upward to 5 percent overall when compared to the same time frame last year, Rebecca Spruill, director of trade development at the St. Lawrence Seaway Development Corp., said in a news release. Double-digit figures were noted in coal and iron ore, and general cargo is up almost 7 percent.
Iron ore shipments rose by 41 percent, to 1.3 million metric tons in May compared with the same month last year, while shipments of coal for use in power generation and steel production increased by 31 percent to 1.1 million tons.
There also were more vessels transporting wind turbine components for renewable energy projects in the American Midwest and western Canada in May, and early shipments of fertilizer, corn and soybeans increased tenfold, the Seaway said.
The port of Ogdensburg welcomed three ships carrying wind components and expects four more vessels in June, Ms. Spruill said. Shippers are pushing to transport turbines to wind farms before years end in order to take advantage of the expiring tax credit deadline.
As of May 31, total cargo shipments along the Seaway rose by 3.7 percent, to 8.9 million tons, over 2011.
When the Seaway opened for business in March, officials projected a 3 percent overall increase in cargo shipments for the 2012 navigation season.
The Seaway also announced recently that it will make available an innovative new technology that gives shippers real-time information on current and projected distances between a vessels keel and river bottoms.
This optional, on-board draft information system should reduce the potential for groundings and allow ships to carry more cargo, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation.
In 2010, a Canada Steamship Lines freighter, Richelieu, leaked at least 50 tons of bunker fuel into the St. Lawrence River after it ran aground near Montreal.
More recently, a 130-foot tugboat traveling with two barges ran aground in October on Comfort Shoal, near Keewaydin State Park, resulting in a minor steering pump oil leak.