Environmental group opposes more ships on St. Lawrence Seaway

CLAYTON, New York (WWNY) – Doubling the number of ships using the St. Lawrence Seaway? Its administrator spoke of that Wednesday on 7 News and the idea doesn’t sit well with groups who want to protect the river environment.

For economics, the St. Lawrence Seaway hopes to bring more cargo, and more ships through the shipping channel. For the environment, there’s worry more traffic could lead to more pollution.

“The thought of doubling traffic just would double any chance of a grounding or an oil spill, so that does alarm us,” said John Peach, executive director of Save the River.

Peach didn’t know of Administrator Adam Tindall-Schlicht’s plans to have twice as many ships go through the seaway in a season until he appeared on 7 News Wednesday evening and said, “What we know is that you could double the amount of vessels that transit through our locks here in Massena without any operational degradation or hindrance to that reliability.

Peach admits the aspirations are alarming.

“The impact would be that these ships are not a very clean way of transporting material and they are working to become greener, they’re working to become cleaner, but there’s a lot of pollution from the ships,” he said.

Peach’s concerns include the risk of an oil spill like the one in 1976 when 300,000 gallons of crude oil spilled into the St. Lawrence River after an Oswego County-bound barge struck a shoal near Alexandria Bay.

Our reporting back then said cleanup took days. Peach says the effects lasted longer.

“It took well over a year and there’s still pockets being cleaned up after that,” he said.

Administrator Tindall-Schlicht says the seaway aims for shippers to invest in more sustainable options for fuel and to lower emissions – an effort to go green on the river.

Peach hopes the seaway backs off on doubling shipping and instead have current ships run more efficiently with more cargo.

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