Dredging crisis continues to hamper U.S.-flag Great Lakes cargo
Shipments by U.S.-flag members of the Lake Carriers' Association on the Great Lakes slipped 3 percent in July to 11.98 million tons.
Cleveland-based LCA, which represents 18 American companies operating 63 U.S.-flag vessels on the Great Lakes, said the decline was due in part to a labor dispute that idled three mid-sized vessels with a combined per-trip capacity of 365,000 tons, but was also the result of a system-wide lack of dredging and low water levels that force some ships to light load.
The association illustrated the impact of the dredging crisis by saying shipments of western coal from Superior, Wis., which reached 1.96 million tons in July, would have topped 2.2 million tons if the vessels had been able to carry full loads.
In July, the U.S. House of Representatives approved increased funding for the Great Lakes in the fiscal year 2008 energy and water appropriations bill including $126.9 million for dredging to be performed by the Army Corps of Engineers.
Through July, U.S.-flag carriage on the Great Lakes stood at 51.4 million tons, a 5.6 percent decrease from the same point in 2006, and only 1.7 percent ahead of the five-year average for the first half.