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Transportation & Infrastructure

Grounded freighter closes Soo Locks, causes watery traffic jam

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Paul Scott
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The Calumet sits run aground on the St. Mary's River.

A merchant freighter ran aground downstream from the Soo Locks of the St. Mary's River on Wednesday, Aug. 9 around 11:40 p.m.

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Credit Paul Scott
The Calumet unloading coal at Algoma, a steel manufacturer in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, on Aug. 9, just hours before it ran aground.

Lieutenant Junior Grade Sean Murphy of the United States Coast Guard, Sector Sault Ste. Marie, joined Stateside today to explain the situation as it stands now.

The vessel’s name is “Calumet” and Murphy said it remains grounded north of Sugar Island.

He said the waterway is closed to commercial traffic from the Soo Locks to Six Mile Point. That leaves 12 vessels waiting in Lake Superior to go down-bound and three waiting to go up-bound.

“We’re continuing to monitor the situation for a possible environmental impact or pollution, and we haven’t seen anything or observed any impact to the environment,” he said.

The Coast Guard, he said, is waiting for the ship’s owner to submit a plan for how to safely get the vessel off the ground. How long the whole process will take is yet unknown.

Listen above for the full conversation.

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