Great Lakes Shipping Study Highlights Shipping' Economic, Environmental Benefits

By KBJR News 1

Great Lakes Shipping Study Highlights Shipping' Economic, Environmental Benefits

February 5, 2013 Updated Feb 5, 2013 at 7:24 PM CST

Duluth, MN (NNCNOW.com) - "The Environmental and Social impacts of Marine Transport in the Great Lakes–St. Lawrence Seaway Region," conducted by Ontario transportation consultants Research and Traffic Group, finds that, in terms of energy efficiency and greenhouse gas emissions:

- The Great Lakes Seaway Fleet is nearly 1.2 times more fuel efficient than rail, and 7 times more than trucks.

It also finds that, if each mode carried the same cargo the same distance:

- rail would emit 19% more greenhouse gas emissions
- semi would emit a whopping 533% more greenhouse gases.

"Of course, the ships need the rails and the trucks for the land side of the cargo movements," said Facilities Manager of the Duluth Seaway Port Authority, Jim Sharrow.

Sharrow says the comprehensive study only confirms what those in the business already knew when it came to shipping's advantages.
But even more exciting, says Sharrow, is the fact that these figures aren't coming from only the most efficient lakers.

"It's the entire industry, and it's the capabilities of the entire shipping industry," said Sharrow.

And while environmental advancements, like the conversion to diesel and swapping out for electric controls on the Great Lakes vessels, is helping those figures, according to Fraser Shipyards Director of Operations Tom Curelli, it's also a simple matter of physics.

'When you have a singular structure that is moving a commodity, it is more efficient than multiple structures—such as a rail or a truck," said Curelli.

And if time is money, Curelli says shipping saves a lot of both. An average ship loading coal can load 8,500 tons an hour, and iron ore is even faster.

"That means you get a vessel... that carries 50,000 or more tons...5 to 6 hours and they've turned around and gone on their way," said Curelli.

And while environmentally–friendly advances are being made in the rail and road industries, Sharrow says they're also happening in the shipping industry.

"All the time they're getting a little bit better than they were, but so is... the shipping industry. The relative difference will remain or improve [for shipping]," said Sharrow, who added that even more emission reduction regulations will continue to improve those figures in the coming years.

As far as industry growth is concerned, in 2012 the U.S. flag Great Lakes fleet grew by two vessels.

Officials with the Lake Carrier's Association say it's a move that will better serve growing economic demands.

- Posted to the Web by Billy Wagness