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Cornwall, Ontario (July 13, 2010) – The St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation (SLSMC) reported today that the cleanup of fuel spilled as a consequence of a vessel grounding on Monday evening in the Seaway’s South Shore Canal is progressing. The spill has been contained by a series of booms.

At approximately 7:30 p.m. on Monday, July 12th, the Canada Steamship Lines bulker Richelieu lost engine power and contacted the canal bank just above the Cote Ste. Catharine lock within the South Shore Canal.  A fuel tank was punctured resulting in a spill estimated to amount to 50 – 200 tonnes of bunker fuel.

The vessel’s crew deployed some booms.  SLSMC staff activated the Seaway’s Emergency Response Plan, quickly deploying resources to seal the lock at Cote Ste. Catharine, and halt the current in the canal.  Oil spill response specialist ECRC was summoned, and was on the scene deploying additional booms to contain the spill.

Given the rapid response, the spill was contained within the canal above the lock, with no oil entering the lock or moving downstream.  No impact has been observed on municipal water intakes within the surrounding municipalities.

Cooperation between the SLSMC, the Canadian Coast Guard, federal, provincial and civil authorities, Canada Steamship Lines, and ECRC has mitigated the impact of the spill.  Navigation was suspended in the South Shore Canal immediately after the spill. The balance of the Seaway (west of the South Shore Canal, extending to the Welland Canal) remains open to traffic.

Clean up efforts are presently underway and will continue, with the South Shore Canal expected to re-open to navigation within two days.  “While we regret spills of any nature, we are pleased to note that our emergency response plans came together smoothly to ensure this incident was quickly dealt with, sharply limiting the impact” said SLSMC President and CEO Richard Corfe.

Currently there are six vessels waiting to transit the canal.  Please consult the website for more information on the St. Lawrence Seaway.