WBEZ | shipping http://www.wbez.org/tags/shipping Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Chicago shippers breathe a sigh of relief as rock removal begins in the Mississippi River http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-shippers-breathe-sigh-relief-rock-removal-begins-mississippi-river-104488 <p><p>The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers started breaking up plates of rock in the Mississippi River Wednesday, bringing relief to Chicago-area businesses concerned about a possible shipping shutdown this winter.</p><p>A rocky curve in the river near Thebes, Ill. became almost impassable in mid-December.</p><p>&ldquo;The barges can&rsquo;t get through there, they&rsquo;ll just tear their bottoms right out,&rdquo; said Chicago tugboat owner John Kindra. His boats tow barges carrying steel, petroleum and grains up and down the Calumet River, and many of those barges pass through the Mississippi.<iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F71889857&amp;color=ff6600&amp;auto_play=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p>The water was already unusually low in November when a separate Army Corps district announced it would reduce the flow from a northern reservoir. The goal was to preserve that district&rsquo;s water despite the continued drought conditions.</p><p>With less water coming in from the Missouri River around St. Louis, it seemed possible that a 180-mile stretch of the Mississippi River just south of St. Louis would be impossible to navigate by mid-December.<img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/RS6846_023-scr.JPG" style="height: 210px; width: 280px; float: right;" title="John Kindra of Kindra Lake Towing (WBEZ/Lewis Wallace)" /></p><p>Kindra was among many who thought the situation was nearing an emergency. Barges have already reduced the weight they can carry due to the extremely low water levels south of St. Louis. If the &nbsp;Mississippi River had become impassable for shipping, that would have meant relying on trains and trucks to transport the same freight.</p><p>After a power struggle that drew in congressmen and governors from interested states, the Army Corps agreed to expedite a project excavating rock formations around Thebes.&nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;They did take some emergency steps and fast-track this, and this is a very good thing,&rdquo; said Kindra.</p><p>As of Wednesday the excavation involved breaking up the rock with a giant jackhammer and shifting it to deeper parts of the river. Later, it could involve drilling through the rock and blasting it out with explosives. Rock removal is expected to be completed by the end of January.</p></p> Thu, 20 Dec 2012 05:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-shippers-breathe-sigh-relief-rock-removal-begins-mississippi-river-104488 Low water in Lake Michigan could cause problems for the shipping industry http://www.wbez.org/news/low-water-lake-michigan-could-cause-problems-shipping-industry-104121 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/RS3818_The Cuyahoga River Today7.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Local ports could run into problems if water levels in Lake Michigan keep going down. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake is 28 inches below the long term average &ndash; and still falling.</p><p>For each inch the lake decreases, cargo ships are forced to lighten their loads. The tonnage left behind ranges between 50 and 300 tons per inch, depending on the type of freight.</p><p>&ldquo;Hopefully we&rsquo;ll see them rise before they go down much lower. Each drop is a concern to everyone in the industry,&rdquo; said Tony Ianello, Executive Director of the Illinois Port District. He said lake levels are always fluctuating, but even normal fluctuations affect shipping costs. Ianello said suppliers pay in extra trips to amount to the same total shipping numbers; down the chain, the price tag could hit consumers. Most shipping in and out of Chicago&#39;s ports is for commodities like grains, many of which are directly linked to the cost of food.</p><p>Precipitation in the Michigan-Huron region in November was nearly 70 percent below the monthly average, and the Army Corps projects Lake Michigan could fall to record lows in the coming months.</p><p>&ldquo;Long term loss of water levels is no good for coastal habitats, but it&rsquo;s also no good for people who like to recreate, swim, and use our Great Lakes shorelines,&rdquo; said Joel Brammeier, President of the Alliance for the Great Lakes. But Brammeier said no one knows for sure whether the lakes are undergoing a long term loss, or a fluctuation.</p><p>A <a href="http://cdm15025.contentdm.oclc.org/cdm/singleitem/collection/p267501ccp2/id/3405/rec/8" target="_blank">2009 study</a> of the loss of water in the Great Lakes links the long term decline to human manipulation of the St. Clair River, and to changes in climatic factors including temperature and precipitation. The St. Clair River, which connects Lake Huron with Lake St. Clair near Detroit, has been <a href="http://www.glerl.noaa.gov/pubs/fulltext/1985/19850006.pdf" target="_blank">dredged periodically since the mid-1800s</a>; some researchers say this accounts for over a foot of permanent loss in Lakes Michigan and Huron.</p><p>The two lakes hit their record low in 1964, and peaked again in 1986. Even following 2012&rsquo;s scorching summer, the lake hasn&rsquo;t gone below1964 levels. But the Army Corps projects that by December 30, the water will go down another three inches.</p><p>Meanwhile, the Mississippi River could be facing a complete shutdown of cargo shipping through the passage between St. Louis and Cairo, Illinois. Last week the Army Corps&rsquo; Missouri River Basin division began limiting the flow of water through a dam in South Dakota in order to preserve water in that northern region; the Missouri is a key tributary to the Mississippi at St. Louis. Because water levels were already low, the reduced input means 180 miles of the Mississippi could become impassable for barges by mid-December. Immediate solutions to the impending crisis for the river shipping industry are not clear.</p><p>The short-term solution for Lake Michigan is precipitation. If the region has another warm, dry winter, the great lake could keep disappearing before our eyes.</p></p> Thu, 29 Nov 2012 15:44:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/low-water-lake-michigan-could-cause-problems-shipping-industry-104121 Drought threatens to close Mississippi to barges http://www.wbez.org/news/drought-threatens-close-mississippi-barges-104099 <p><p>ST. LOUIS &mdash; After months of drought, companies that ship grain and other goods down the Mississippi River are being haunted by a potential nightmare: If water levels fall too low, the nation&#39;s main inland waterway could become impassable to barges just as the harvest heads to market.</p><p>Any closure of the river would upend the transport system that has carried American grain since before steamboats and Mark Twain. So shipping companies are scrambling to find alternative ways to move tons of corn, wheat and other crops to the Gulf Coast for shipment overseas.</p><p>&quot;You can&#39;t just wait until it shuts down and suddenly say, &#39;There&#39;s a problem,&#39;&quot; said Rick Calhoun, head of marine operations for Chicago-based Cargill Inc. &quot;We&#39;re always looking at Plan B.&quot;</p><p>The mighty Mississippi is approaching the point where it may become too shallow for barges that carry food, fuel and other commodities. If the river is closed for a lengthy period, experts say, economic losses could climb into the billions of dollars.</p><p>It isn&#39;t just the shipping and grain industries that will feel the pinch. Store prices and utility bills could rise. And deliveries of everything from road-clearing rock salt for winter and fertilizer for the spring planting season could be late and in short supply.</p><p>&quot;The longer it lasts, the worse it gets,&quot; said Don Sweeney, associate director of the Center for Transportation Studies at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. &quot;It&#39;s inevitable that it will mean higher prices down the road.&quot;</p><p>The focus of greatest concern is a 180-mile stretch of the river between the confluences of the Missouri River near St. Louis and the Ohio River at Cairo, Ill. That&#39;s where lack of rain has squeezed the channel from its normal width of 1,000 feet or more to a just a few hundred feet.</p><p>The river depth is 15 to 20 feet less than normal, now about 13 feet deep in many places. If it dips to around 9 feet, rock pinnacles at two locations make it difficult, if not impossible, for barges to pass. Hydrologists for the National Weather Service predict the Mississippi will reach the 9-foot mark by Dec. 9.</p><p>The situation worsened last week when the Army Corps of Engineers began reducing the outflow from an upper Missouri River dam in South Dakota, where a group of experts said Thursday that the worst U.S. drought in decades had intensified sharply over the last week.</p><p>The flow is gradually being cut by more than two-thirds by Dec. 11 as part of an effort to ease the effects of the drought in the northern Missouri River basin.</p><p>Lawmakers from Mississippi River states are frustrated with the corps&#39; action and even requested a presidential emergency declaration to overturn it. So far, the White House has not responded.</p><p>On Thursday, Army Assistant Secretary Jo-Ellen Darcy told Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois and some of his colleagues from Iowa and Minnesota that the corps would consider dialing back the amount of water being held back from the Mississippi.</p><p>Darcy also pledged to expedite removal of rock formations south of St. Louis, though that work would take at least two months after a contractor is hired.</p><p>To Sen. Claire McCaskill, a Missouri Democrat, the stakes couldn&#39;t be higher.</p><p>&quot;There is going to be a dramatic ripple effect to our economy if the barge traffic grinds to halt, which clearly it will if something is not done to avert this crisis,&quot; she said.</p><p>Her Missouri colleague in the Senate, Republican Roy Blunt, acknowledged &quot;friction&quot; between upper Missouri River interests that control the flow and those downstream on the lower Missouri and Mississippi rivers. He said the corps &quot;needs to manage that balance.&quot;</p><p>Over the years, parts of the river have occasionally been closed because of low water, barge accidents, dredging, ice and flooding. But this shutdown, if it happens, would affect a pivotal stretch that is used for two-way traffic &mdash; shipments going south to the Gulf as well as transports from the Illinois and Ohio rivers headed north to Chicago and Minneapolis.</p><p>A two-month shutdown &mdash; the length of time that some observers fear given current conditions &mdash; would have an estimated impact of $7 billion, according to the river industry trade group American Waterways Operators.</p><p>Consider agricultural products. It costs 30 to 35 cents more per bushel to send grain to the Gulf by rail instead of barge &mdash; a massive figure when calculating the millions of bushels shipped downriver.</p><p>&quot;When you think of all we buy at the grocery store that has grain and corn, consumers could really see it hit them in the pocketbooks,&quot; said Ann McCulloch of the Waterways Operators group.</p><p>The Coast Guard controls navigation on the river and decides when to require restrictions or shut it down.</p><p>&quot;It&#39;s really played by ear,&quot; Coast Guard Lt. Colin Fogarty said. &quot;The Mississippi River is a dynamic environment.&quot;</p><p>River shippers are bracing for the worst, weighing train and truck alternatives to move a staggering volume of cargo, if necessary.</p><p>Seven million tons of farm products are shipped via barge in a typical December-January period, along with 3.8 million tons of coal, 1.7 tons of chemical products, 1.3 tons of petroleum products and 700,000 tons of crude oil, McCulloch said.</p><p>Trains already haul a vast volume of material, but switching from river to rail isn&#39;t that easy, especially on short notice. Cargill, for example, uses 1,300 of its own barges on inland waterways. Finding that much capacity elsewhere is no simple task.</p><p>&quot;We&#39;ll look for other sources of transportation to the extent we can. But if you take away this important artery, you can&#39;t just snap your fingers and replace it with trains,&quot; Calhoun said. &quot;There aren&#39;t just trains sitting around. They&#39;re already pretty busy with their business on their books.&quot;</p><p>Tractor-trailers can pick up some of the slack. But some cargo, such as coal, just isn&#39;t cost-effective to haul by truck over long distances, said Bob Costello, an economist with the American Trucking Associations.</p><p>Businesses operating directly on the river are bound to suffer, too.</p><p>George Foster founded JB Marine Service Inc. in St. Louis 36 years ago to make a living fixing and cleaning barges. An extended river closure may force layoffs, he said. And he figures many other companies will be forced to cut jobs, too.</p><p>&quot;It&#39;s extremely dire,&quot; Foster said. &quot;There&#39;s no way to sugarcoat it.&quot;</p></p> Thu, 29 Nov 2012 09:13:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/drought-threatens-close-mississippi-barges-104099 The Pakistani art of truck decoration http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-10-31/pakistani-art-truck-decoration-93635 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/segment/photo/2011-October/2011-10-31/pakistan1.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>In Pakistan, shipping is big business. New paved highways offer a fast track to the north and Afghanistan. Goods arrive at the port of Karachi and travel as far as U.S. troops based in Afghanistan or newly rich Central-Asian republics farther north. As the shipping industry grows, trucking becomes an important part of the country’s economic engine. But Pakistani cargo shipping trucks – decorated with bright colors, lines from Urdu poetry, and life sized paintings of politicians – look nothing like trucks you see on American highways. The <em><a href="http://www.worldvisionreport.org/" target="_blank">World Vision Report’s</a></em> Jessica Partnow takes us to Karachi, the heart of Pakistan’s one-of-a-kind truck decorating business.</p></p> Mon, 31 Oct 2011 15:55:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-10-31/pakistani-art-truck-decoration-93635 Not a cruise ship http://www.wbez.org/content/not-cruise-ship <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/frontandcenter/photo/2011-07-11/88967/5.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>The gravel in your driveway, the steel in your car, and the coal that produced electricity for your home may well have spent time on a Great Lakes freighter on its way to you. Each year, over 100 million tons of iron ore, coal, limestone and other products travel through the Great Lakes navigation system on ore ships.</p><p> <style type="text/css"> div .inline { width: 290px; float: left; margin-right: 19px; margin-left: 3px; clear: left; } div .inlineContent { border-top: 1px dotted #aa211d; border-top-width: 1px; border-top-style: dotted; border-top-color: #aa211d; margin-bottom: 5px; margin-top: 2px; } ul { margin-left: 15px; } li { font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif; font-size: 12px; line-height: 1em; background-repeat: no-repeat; background-repeat-x: no-repeat; background-repeat-y: no-repeat; background-position: 0 5px; background-position-x: 0px; background-position-y: 5px; padding-left: 3px; margin-bottom: 0.5em; }</style> </p><div class="inline"><div class="inlineContent"><a href="http://www.wbez.org/frontandcenter"><img alt="" src="http://www.wbez.org/sites/default/files/story/insert-image/2011-June/2011-06-28/FNC-inset-promo.jpg" style="width: 280px; height: 50px;" title=""></a><ul><li><strong><a href="http://www.wbez.org/story/about-front-and-center-%E2%80%93-depth-reporting-great-lakes-87655">About Front and Center</a></strong></li><li><strong><a href="http://www.wbez.org/frontandcenter/2011-07-05/big-ship-diary-88726">Big ship diary: nine days on a freighter </a></strong></li></ul></div></div><p>Multimedia producer Allison Swaim takes us on board one of these ships: the MV Calumet.&nbsp; At 630 feet, it's longer than two football fields and holds close to 20,000 tons of cargo. You'd need almost 1,000 semi-trucks to carry the same load. Seventeen crew members live and work on the ship for a month at a time. It's a working boat, and the work never stops.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><iframe src="http://player.vimeo.com/video/26256476?title=0&amp;byline=0&amp;portrait=0&amp;color=ff0000" width="601" frameborder="0" height="338"></iframe></p><p>This piece was produced for Front and Center, our series covering the Great Lakes region.Hear more from the Calumet at <a href="frontandcenter/2011-07-05/big-ship-diary-88726">Big Ship Diary</a> or get a glimpse behind the scenes at <a href="http://transom.org/?p=19129">Transom.</a></p></p> Mon, 11 Jul 2011 15:28:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/content/not-cruise-ship Front and Center: Is the St. Lawrence Seaway Big Enough? http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-06-22/front-and-center-st-lawrence-seaway-big-enough-88189 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/segment/photo/2011-June/2011-06-22/St. Lawrence Flickr Neil Smith.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Brian Mann with <a href="http://www.northcountrypublicradio.org/" target="_blank">North Country Public Radio</a> is traveling along the St. Lawrence Seaway as part of the <a href="http://www.wbez.org/frontandcenter"><em>Front and Center</em></a> series. Monday, he talked about the opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway back in 1959. He checked in from his journey, discussing shipping along that route.</p></p> Wed, 22 Jun 2011 14:27:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-06-22/front-and-center-st-lawrence-seaway-big-enough-88189 About Front and Center – in-depth reporting from the Great Lakes http://www.wbez.org/story/about-front-and-center-%E2%80%93-depth-reporting-great-lakes-87655 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-June/2011-06-14/Great Lakes Aerial_Flickr_NASA Goddard Photo and Video.jpg" alt="" /><p><div><div><div><div><div>The Great Lakes region has always been defined by water. The “sweetwater seas,” as the lakes were known, sustained indigenous people, and served as a thoroughfare for hunters, fur traders and early voyagers. &nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>More recently, water powered the region's growth as a critical input to the mills, processing plants and manufacturing complexes that propelled this region into becoming the industrial and agricultural powerhouse of America. &nbsp;Water was also the conduit for those goods to travel through the Great Lakes and out the St. Lawrence Seaway, but also down the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><table style="width: 290px;" align="left" border="0" cellpadding="10" cellspacing="10"><tbody><tr><td><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/frontandcenter"><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://www.wbez.org/sites/default/files/story/insert-image/2011-June/2011-06-21/waterspromo.jpg" style="width: 280px; height: 50px; float: left; margin: 5px;" title=""></a></p></td></tr><tr><td><p><strong><a href="http://www.wbez.org/story/great-lakes-face-increasing-pressure-water-world-own-backyard-88093">Great Lakes face increasing pressure for water from world, own backyard</a></strong></p><p><strong><a href="http://www.wbez.org/story/how-likely-fear-west-could-steal-great-lakes-water-88134">How likely is the fear the West could steal Great Lakes water? </a></strong></p><p><strong><a href="http://www.wbez.org/story/waukeshas-request-great-lakes-water-complex-first-test-law-88126">Waukesha's request for Great Lakes water is complex first test of law </a></strong></p></td></tr></tbody></table><div>Water helped build this region and made it rich. &nbsp;But in the process the Great Lakes became a dumping ground for toxic industrial, manufacturing and human waste. &nbsp;The lakes were poisoned, thousands of acres of critical wetlands paved over and the natural aquatic ecosystem destroyed by pollution and invasive species.&nbsp; Tough environmental regulations and cleanup efforts have brought dramatic improvement but today the lakes face new challenges.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Beginning on June 20th with a live call-in program and continuing with a series of in-depth reports and web-features, Front and Center will focus on one topic—water, the critical resource linking 42 million residents of the Great Lakes basin.&nbsp; Reporters from throughout the region will examine the politics and policies shaping the region, and highlight the people who have made Great Lakes's water their life's work.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>We will take you to the St. Lawrence Seaway where Canadian and U.S. officials are facing off over environmental shipping regulations, and travel down the Chicago River to consider the feasibility and the potential environmental benefits of re-reversing the river.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>We'll visit one of the world's only floating post offices making deliveries to the big ships on the Detroit River, and spend a week on a freighter chronicling the lives of the workers onboard.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>We'll hear from Native American leaders in Northern Michigan combating invasive species threatening their traditional fishing grounds and eavesdrop on wildlife biologists on the islands of Lake Superior tracking the remarkable recovery of the Bald Eagle population once decimated by industrial chemicals.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>With the region's industrial economic base in decline, experts are looking at how water can play a central role in a defining a new economic future that balances the need to create jobs and protect the environment.&nbsp; Some call it a "freshwater economy," while others label it a "blue" economy. &nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Already, with water becoming an increasingly scarce resource around the globe, companies in the region are scrambling to get ahead of the curve, inventing new technologies to conserve and better manage water use.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Ultimately, the future of the Great Lakes will be guided by the actions and commitment of all those who live in the region--the people who use the lakes but all too often have taken them for granted.&nbsp; Our hope is that these stories will educate and spark debate while inspiring those of us who live in the region to appreciate this unique resource that has enriched our lives.&nbsp;&nbsp;</div></div></div></div></div></p> Thu, 09 Jun 2011 20:43:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/about-front-and-center-%E2%80%93-depth-reporting-great-lakes-87655