Emergency work crews have mopped up about 100 litres
of oil that spilled in the St. Lawrence Seaway Saturday
night, following a collision between two ships just
east of the Mercier Bridge.
Both vessels were heavily damaged in the forceful collision,
but there were no serious injuries, a Canadian Coast
Guard spokesman said.
Transport Canada safety inspectors and investigators
with the Transportation Safety Board visited both ships
yesterday to learn the cause of the accident.
"We don't know what happened," Martin Grégoire, of
the Quebec Marine Communications and Traffic Centre,
said yesterday. "But, based on the damages, it was a
near head-on collision."
The mishap occurred at 7:25 p.m. as the Canadian Prospector,
a 222-metre-long Great Lakes carrier, headed eastbound
to Port Cartier, near Sept-Îles, with a shipment of
The Stellanova, a 95-metre-long vessel registered in
Holland, was headed westbound with a cargo of machinery
for a port in the Great Lakes.
Following the collision, both ships began taking on
water, Grégoire said, and the Stella-
nova leaked oil from an 800-litre reservoir of oil
used to lubricate the propeller shafts.
The Seaway, which normally operates 24 hours a day,
closed overnight as mop-up crews from SIMEC, a company
under contract with the government, installed booms
to contain the spill and spread absorbent materials
to soak up the oil.
The Seaway reopened yesterday morning at 8:55, Grégoire
said, but one boom will remain in the Seaway for several
days to collect residual materials. Crews will also
inspect the shore for oil.
"As far as we know, there was no pollution damage -
that's because of the rapid cleanup."
Ship owners carry insurance to cover cleanup costs,
Grégoire noted. The two damaged ships headed under their
own steam to the Port of Montreal.
"Divers are at work checking the hulls, and inspectors
will decide whether to let the ships proceed or send
them for repairs."
The accident marked the third shipping mishap in the
region within three days.
A bulk carrier, loaded with steel, hit a boat tied
up at Côte-Sainte-Catherine on the South Shore earlier
Saturday, after an engine failed and the captain lost
control of his vessel.
No one was seriously hurt in the accident, Grégoire
said, and damages were minimal.
Another ship went aground Friday in the river, halfway
between Trois-Rivières and Quebec City, after a generator
faltered and the captain lost control of the steering.
There were no serious injuries or damages.
"Collisions do happen once or twice a year, some more
serious than others," Grégoire said.
"It's like cars on the road. They do hit sometimes."