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Annual report: Seaway gained $3.6 million in new businesses in 2011

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The St. Lawrence Seaway gained $3.6 million in new business last year, a “good, solid performance given economic headwinds,” according to officials.

In the Seaway’s annual report, Terence F. Bowles, president of the Canadian Seaway Management Corp., said the combined volume of cargo that crossed the “marine highway” in 2011 totaled 37.5 million tons — an increase of 2.7 percent, or a million tons, over the 2010 navigation season. The total number of vessel transits increased by 7.7 percent, to 4,227 trips.

“Total revenues increased to $68.2 million, while operating expenses amounted to $73.6 million,” Mr. Bowles said in the report. “We have not covered our operating expenses since the ‘great recession’ of 2009, which heavily impacted our iron ore and steel cargo volumes, but we are making good progress in rebuilding our business.”

Shipment has increased in part because of new and emerging export markets for iron ore and coal and trade of petroleum products.

In its annual report, the Seaway mentions the “minor pollution incident” that occurred on Oct. 24, when the 130-foot tugboat Commodore Straits, traveling with two barges, ran aground on Comfort Shoal, near Keewaydin State Park. The Seaway said approximately eight or nine gallons of steering pump oil leaked into the river.

The Seaway estimates that the shipping channel helped create $34.6 billion in economic activity for the surrounding region and generated $14.5 billion in wages through the 227,000 direct, indirect and induced jobs it supports.

Federal, state and provincial and local governments additionally collected $4.7 billion in taxes through shipping activity, it said.

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