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Welland Canal closed after fiery crash (September 01, 2001)

ALLANBURG, Ont. - Nearly a dozen ships were hung up in the Welland Canal on Aug. 11, unable to cross through the international link thanks to cleanup of a fiery crash.The Welland Canal, which joins th...


ALLANBURG, Ont. – Nearly a dozen ships were hung up in the Welland Canal on Aug. 11, unable to cross through the international link thanks to cleanup of a fiery crash.

The Welland Canal, which joins the St. Lawrence Seaway’s Lakes Ontario and Erie, was closed Aug. 11-13 after a 222-metre long vessel loaded with 26,000 tonnes of wheat ploughed into a moving bridge.

“Ships all have schedules to meet and we’re doing our best to accommodate that,” says Michel Drolet, Niagara Region vice-president of the St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corp.

“This year we cannot afford to be slowing down traffic – we need all the business, all the ships that we can get through the system.”

Police said the rear portion of the Windoc ship burst into flames when a lift-bridge was lowered, shearing off the vessel’s smokestack and wheelhouse. The Transportation Safety Board is investigating the accident.

The Welland Canal ties together the St. Lawrence Seaway, a critical 3,700-kilometre transportation waterway that links central Canada with the Atlantic Ocean.

“Our intention is to get back in business as soon as we can,” Drolet says.

The waterway system ties western grain farmers to markets in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Shippers may remember this is not the first time vessels have been stuck due to complications on the canal.

According to the Canadian Press, one of the most serious delays occurred Thanksgiving Day in 1984, when a portion of a canal lock caved in, closing the waterway for 23 days and stranding at least 130 ships. n


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