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Great Lakes-Seaway News' purpose is to provide news, critical information updates, and thoughtful commentary to those who care about the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway System specifically, and the maritime industry in general. It is important that Great Lakes-Seaway News also become a forum and online meeting place so that ideas can be presented, issues can be debated and relationships can be made to advance the seaway system’s interests for now and for the future.

Therefore, Great Lakes Seaway News will serve as the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway System's newspaper, its online bulletin board, its meeting place for innovation and discussion, and its clubhouse for the development of plans and activities which will serve those who participate in the online marketplace of ideas.

Great Lakes-Seaway News is an independent publication and as such, is not affiliated in any way with the U.S. Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation, the Canadian St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers or any other agencies of the governments of the United States of America or Canada. 

Great Lakes-Seaway News is a publication of PRI Strategy Management, Inc.  All rights reserved.


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Cleveland-Europe Express Service to Expand in 2015

As part of the Port of Cleveland's efforts to continuously improve the quality and diversity of the services it offers to its customers, the Cleveland-Europe Express regularly scheduled liner shipping service from the Great Lakes to Europe will feature bi-weekly sailings beginning in the 2015 Great Lakes- St. Lawrence Seaway navigation season.

Port of Cleveland President and CEO Will Friedman says in a statement posted on the port's website, "As we double the frequency of the Express, we’re also adding another key piece to improve on-dock service. Valport Maritime Services, via its subsidiary C-Port Maritime, is now stevedore for the Cleveland-Europe Express.  Federal Marine Terminals remains stevedore for all other carriers and users of our general cargo docks, including our booming steel trade."

The Cleveland-Europe Express liner service to Europe operated by the Netherlands-based Spliethoff Group began earlier this year and as such must still be considered to be in its early stages.  The results of the first several voyages of the new service have been promising, clearly promising enough to justify another sailing being added to double the frequency of the service.  

The Port of Cleveland has been on something of a roll lately.  The port recently won the top score in the nation in Logistic Management magazine's annual “Quest for Quality” survey.


Great Lakes Restoration Initiative Extension Revealed to Great Lakes Mayors

The U.S. government issued a new plan last week to guide its efforts to the clean up the Great Lakes.  The plan includes clean-up efforts focused on 10 contaminated rivers and harbors and addresses ways to reduce the likelihood and severity of the type of toxic algae blooms that affected Lake Erie near Toledo, OH this summer.

On August 2, a poisonous algae bloom in the southeasten portion of Lake Erie made the water supply for nearly 500,000 residents in the Toledo area unsafe for drinking and cooking.

Last week at a conference of Great Lakes mayors held at Chicago's iconic Shedd Aquarium overlooking Lake Michigan, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel told his colleagues, “What happened in Toledo…. It’s the first time the reliability, the sustainability of our drinking water was threatened."

Toledo Mayor Michael Collins refered to his city as a “canary in the coal mine” for all the Great Lakes and called for more action from the federal government to help.

At the meeting, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy took the opportunity to outline what the Obama Administration is calling "Great Lakes Restoration Initiative Action Plan II." The new plan continues the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) begun in President Obama’s first term. The GLRI has already spent $1.6 billion on more than 2,100 restoration projects in communities along the U.S. shores of the Great Lakes. The plan announced by Administrator McCarthy last week would extend the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative through 2019 at a cost of roughly another $1.5 billion.

While the injection of so many dollars into the Great Lakes economy is welcome, it is still unclear specifically what impact the new plan will have on the health of the Great Lakes ecosystem, even in the short term.  Scientists at the conference indicated that the toxic algae blooms that caused the problems with Toledo's water supply are likely the result of phosphorus-rich fertilizer run-off making its way to the Lake Erie and nobody is seriously considering limitations on fertilizer usage in the farm communities in the Great Lakes basin.


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SS Badger's Last Month of Dumping Coal Ash in Lake Michigan

In exactly one month, on October 26, the SS Badger carferry will end its 2014 navigation season, and with that hopefully, its practice of dumping coal ash directly into Lake Michigan.

Over the course of its life as a car ferry, the coal-burning ship has dumped an estimated 500 tons of coal ash per year into the lake on its regular transits from Ludington, MI to Manitowoc, WI and back every year.

In 2013, the Badger’sowners, privately-held Lake Michigan Carferry LLC, signed a consent decree with the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that was filed in federal court promising they would “implement a sophisticated ash retention system” after the 2014 season that will allow the Badger to retain its coal ash on board and deposit that ash in a suitable disposal facility.

Despite missing several deadlines associated with the consent decree, the Badger'sowners now say they will make the deadline and sail next year without dumping any coal ash in the lake.

However, independent watchdog groups and industry analysts are concerned that the controversial ship's equally controversial owners will be hard-pressed to make good on the agreement they signed with the U.S. government precisely because they have missed so many of steps in the timeline laid out in the consent decree.

Any on-board system to retain hot coal ash aboard a passenger ship would have to be pre-approved by the U.S. Coast Guard and meet the approval of the EPA.  Such approvals are time consuming and sometimes take several months of give and take between engineers, Coast Guard marine safety officials, environmental protection regulators, ship classification organizations and insurers.

Experts following the situation say no information relating to the design, engineering standards, implementation plans or Coast Guard approvals for the ash retention system currently exist in the public record, even though Lake Michigan Carferry has known the ship would have to stop dumping coal ash into the lake for years.  While it is possible that such a system could receive approval before the beginning of the ship's 2015 navigation season in May, that prospect becomes more remote with each passing day. 


Port of Cleveland Wins "Quest for Quality" Award

The Port of Cleveland is ranked as providing the best customer satisfaction and performance excellence among Great Lakes ports and scored the highest among all ports in the nation, according to the annual "Quest for Quality Awards" given by Logistics Management magazine.

For more than three decades, "Quest for Quality" has been regarded in the transportation and logistics industry as the most credible measure of customer satisfaction and performance excellence. Its scores come from port customers, "the buyers of logistics and transportation services who put these ports to work around the clock and around the globe," said Michael Levans, Group Editorial Director of Peerless Media, LLC., the publisher of Logistic Management.

"And when you consider the challenging environment in which our nation’s transportation services providers have been operating over the past 12 months," said Levans, "our editorial staff agrees that the Port of Cleveland’s success at securing a Quest for Quality Award in 2014 is nothing less than a tremendous achievement."

The "Quest for Quality" evaluates ports in five categories: 1) ease of doing business; 2) value; 3) ocean carrier network; 4) intermodal network; and 5) equipment and operations.

Port of Cleveland CEO Will Friedman said, "We added more than a mile of rail track to enhance the interface with the two Class I railroads that serve our Port, Norfolk Southern and CSX, and we launched our own liner service to Europe through an unprecedented charter agreement with Amsterdam-based carrier Spliethoff Group. We have not accepted status quo in our Port and it’s very gratifying that customers and logistics practitioners recognize our efforts to better serve them through innovation."