AWO cries foul on Chicago ship-sanitary canal closure
American Waterways Operators, a major group representing the tug-and-barge industry, says plans to shut down the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal for a second time this year will have a “severe impact on commerce.”
The AWO said insufficient notice was given of plans to close the canal, which is being done to apply chemicals to kill an invasive fish.
The canal is the major link between the Mississippi and Illinois rivers and the Great Lakes.
AWO said on Nov. 13, federal and state agencies announced closure of the waterway between Lockport Lock at Mile Marker 291 and Mile Marker 298, just north of the fish barrier, in order to apply a chemical to kill the invasive Asian carpfish.
'This 18-day notice is far short of the requested 30-day notice to allow industry to facilitate critical deliveries without stranding tows already on their way to the Chicago region,' AWO said. 'Producers, shippers and carriers will not have an adequate period of time to reroute shipments and make other accommodations for the necessary scheduling changes.
'For example, a towboat journey from Houston to Chicago takes an average of 22 days. As a result, it is almost certain that there will be tows stranded in the river system when the closure goes into effect,' it added.
AWO said an August shutdown of the canal that occurred without warning trapped at least 16 towboats and 159 barges in one day alone, and cost the regional economy hundreds of thousands of dollars a day in increased transportation costs.
The Coast Guard published final rules having to do with the shutdown in the Federal Register today.