Canada-U.S. Seaway section to reopen Thursday

Thu Jul 15, 2010 4:04pm EDT
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WINNIPEG, Manitoba (Reuters) - A closed section of the important St. Lawrence Seaway shipping route was scheduled to open at 4 p.m. ET on Thursday, a Seaway official said, as crews continue to clean up spilled fuel oil after a cargo ship ran aground on Monday.

A fuel tank on Canada Steamship Lines vessel M/V Richelieu was punctured as it experienced propulsion problems during a sudden squall near the Cote Sainte-Catherine canal lock south of Montreal, leaking between 50 and 200 tonnes of oil into the surrounding waters.

The closure of the South Shore Canal and the lock has affected 17 ships, Andrew Bogora, a spokesman for the St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corp said on Thursday.

CSL Group said that clean-up of the waters and shore will last into Tuesday, with booms installed along the shorelines to prevent the oil from spreading further.

The repaired vessel is ready to sail to Quebec City to unload its wheat cargo, CSL said.

The Seaway, owned by the Canadian and U.S. governments, connects central North America via the Great Lakes to the Atlantic Ocean and is a major shipping route for commodities such as iron ore, steel, coal and grain.

(Reporting by Rod Nickel; editing by Rob Wilson)