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A Seaway freighter passes under the bridge near Massena in December 2012.  Photo: David Sommerstein.
A Seaway freighter passes under the bridge near Massena in December 2012. Photo: David Sommerstein.

Seaway tonnage down 11%

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The St. Lawrence Seaway is still trying to dig itself out of a recession slump. After posting a 4% tonnage increase last year, shipping between Great Lakes and foreign ports is down 11% so far this year.

Seaway officials were hoping to build on last year's gains. But a weak global steel market is dragging down demand for iron ore from the Midwest. And Canadian grain is increasingly going by train to the West Coast on its way to Asia.

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Reported by

David Sommerstein
Reporter/ Producer

Betty Sutton has two months under her belt as Administrator of the U.S. side of the Seaway.

She says the Seaway has to keep making its case that shipping by freighter is cheaper for many products and better for climate change. It needs to "get the message out about what an environmentally friendly mode of transportation marine commerce is, the benefits that it has in reducing congestion on our highways and certainly overall greenhouse gas emissions, but the message is ongoing. The work is ongoing," Sutton said.

The St. Lawrence Seaway employs 135 people in Massena, including workers at the locks that connect the Atlantic Ocean and world ports to the St. Lawrence River, the Great Lakes, and the U.S. and Canadian interior.

Sutton says she sees reason to hope for a strong end to the season before the locks close around Christmas time: "We’re entering what has been traditionally the busiest time of the year for us, so there is still time for us to continue to rebound."

Sutton says grain is still being harvested in the Midwest. Another positive sign, she says, comes from Cleveland. The port there is having a reacord-breaking fall, unloading heavy machinery and specialty steel from Germany, England, and the Netherlands.

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