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Great Lakes Article:

Slick crews mop up small oil spill
No serious injuries but damage heavy
 
Ann Carroll
The Montreal Gazette


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 grain.

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."

acarroll@thegazette.southam.ca

© Copyright  2002 Montreal Gazette
This information is posted for nonprofit educational purposes, in accordance with U.S. Code Title 17, Chapter 1,Sec. 107 copyright laws.

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