CHICAGO Shippers and
vessel operators on the Great Lakes are taking a financial hit
because of an inability to carry full loads due to insufficient
port depths that dont allow for vessels full
drafts, according to the Lake Carriers Association.
The Rocky River, Ohio-based
association continues to lobby Congress and the Obama
administration for funds to dredge Great Lakes ports, some of
which have been untouched for decades, a practice that has
allowed sediment to build.
"What we are looking for is
additional funding," association vice president Glen G.
Nekvasil told AMM.
"The administration is spending
$31 million on lakes dredging in fiscal 2013," he said. "That
will remove 2.4 million cubic yards of sediment" from 15 of the
60 ports around the Great Lakes U.S. shores, including
the ports of Cleveland, Detroit, Duluth-Superior, Minn., and
Toledo, Ohio. The problem, he said, is that the natural
siltation rate is 3.3 million cubic yards per year.
"We need $40 million per year to
keep pace with natural siltation and we need more than $200
million to clear the backlog," which the U.S. Army Corps of
Engineers estimates at 17 million cubic yards, Nekvasil
"The dredging crisis is a
long-term situation but is now exacerbated by the fact that we
have another drought on (lakes) Huron and Michigan, which are
connected by (the) Straits of Mackinac," used by iron ore
carriers to carry shipments from mines in Minnesota to
steelmakers in Indiana. "(Water levels) are heading to record
lows this winter."
According to shipping
terminals reports, Western coal trade loading is a little
less than 60,000 tons per vessel. "In the 1970s, we had over
70,000-ton cargoes, so we are losing 10,000 tons each trip due
to low water and a lack of dredging," Nekvasil said.
"Work has begun on Indiana
Harbor for the first time since 1972," Nekvasil said. "It took
that long because of permitting about where to put removed
amm.com, June 27).
Some smaller ports, such as
Holland and St. Joseph, Mich., were dredged in 2012, allowing
load sizes for such steelmaking materials as limestone to
improve, he said.