Pierre Poilievre, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities, met with American officials to discuss Canadian concerns about New York State ship ballast regulations that the Canadian government says could halt shipping on the St. Lawrence Seaway when they take effect in 2013. Iron and steel products are a major category of commodities shipped through the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River.
Transport Canada Friday announced that a member of parliament has met with American officials to discuss Canadian concerns about impending regulations that the Canadian government says could halt shipping on the St. Lawrence Seaway.
According to Saint Lawrence Seaway Management, iron and steel products, raw and processed, have been a major category of cargo for the seaway since it opened in 1959.
Pierre Poilievre, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities, met with officials Friday including Joseph Curto, president of the New York Shipping Association. He also met with New York State Senator Diane Savino, who represents District 23, which includes a significant stretch of waterfront in New York City.
The State of New York has ballast requirements that are scheduled to take effect in 2013, which Transport Canada says are “unachievable.”
“The requirements apply to all vessels operating in New York waters, regardless of whether they plan to discharge ballast water,” Transport Canada says on its website. “As two Seaway locks near the entrance to the Great Lakes lie within New York waters, enforcement of the requirements on transiting ships would stop commercial traffic on the Seaway, including domestic ships travelling between Canadian ports. Additionally, Canadian shipments to and from the Port of New York and New Jersey would be curtailed.”
According to Saint Lawrence Seaway Management, as of Oct. 31 a total of seven million tonnes of iron ore were shipped through the seaway year-to-date. This is the combined total of shipments going through the Welland Canal (which bypasses Niagara Falls) and through the St. Lawrence River between Montreal and Kingston.
The State of New York raised concerns about an exemption to the federal Clean Water Act and the introduction of alien species, such as the round goby and zebra mussels, in Lakes Huron, Erie and Ontario.
“Historically, ocean-going ships have been exempted from requirements of the Clean Water Act, which require permits for discharges into water bodies,” the New York department of environment and conservation states on its website. “Instead, current regulations allow ships to simply pledge that they have flushed ballast water (used to balance cargo) before entering inland waters.”
The issue came up after several states filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in California, asking the court to force the federal government to increase restrictions on ballast water from commercial vessels.
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