The Quoddy Tides

Eastport, Maine

2007 April 27

Dispute continues concerning shipping of dangerous cargoes

by Marie Jones Holmes

Controversy on both sides of the border concerning what constitutes dangerous cargo and dangerous waters continues, as three companies on the U.S. side seek to establish liquefied natural gas (LNG) facilities in the Quoddy area. In recent months, New Brunswick's senior minister in the federal cabinet, Veterans Affairs Minister Greg Thompson, has stated that LNG is a dangerous cargo and U.S. companies will not be able to bring LNG tankers through Canadian waters. The Canadian government maintains it has a right to restrict or limit access to the waters of Head Harbour Passage.

LNG supporters maintain that dangerous cargoes are already being transported through Head Harbour Passage to the port of Bayside in the form of ammonium nitrate, a fertilizer component. Earlier this year, State Senator Kevin Raye of Perry stated, "The Canadian government has no objection to ships carrying dangerous cargoes such as ammonium nitrate and dynamite routinely entering the bay and sailing past Maine and New Brunswick communities en route to Bayside."

David Seman, Bayside port manager, says fertilizer going through the port is of agricultural grade and has a low carbon content and is not hazardous at all. It is not listed on Canada's dangerous goods list. Unloaded from ships, the fertilizer is trucked to New Brunswick, U.S. and Prince Edward Island customers. Training is provided to stevedores and management personnel concerning handling of products coming through the port.

Both Champlain Stevedoring and Seman deny that any dynamite or explosives are carried by ship to Bayside. Dynamite is transported in marked trucks for quarrying operations in a nearby Bayside quarry. Jamer Industries has been operating the Bayside quarry since 1998.

The port of Bayside requires pilots aboard ships docking at Bayside. A pilot is not required by the Canadian government to bring ships into Bayside. However, there is always a pilot on the ship coming up river. The Canadian government is in the process of developing legislation that will establish a federal requirement for pilots.


© 2007 The Quoddy Tides
Eastport, Maine
Article republished on Save Passamaquoddy Bay website with permission.