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Soo Locks shipping traffic blocked due to grounded freighter – UpNorthLive.com

Courtesy: Coast Guard Air Station Traverse City

SAULT STE. MARIE, Mich. (WPBN/WGTU)— At least a dozen ships are waiting to pass through the St. Marys River after a Great Lakes freighter ran aground.

The 629-foot Calumet was coming from ESSAR Steel in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario Wednesday evening when it ran aground near Sugar Island. The vessel was not carrying any cargo.

The St. Marys River remains closed from the Soo Locks to Six Mile Point.

The Coast Guard conducted two aerial flights Thursday, one with an MH-60 helicopter from Air Station Traverse City, and one later in the day by a Coast Guard Auxiliary Air Patrol. A Coast Guard pollution aerial observer was aboard both flights and saw no pollution.

Divers conducted an initial assessment of the vessel’s stern and determined that it is structurally sound.

We’re told Grand River Navigation, the owners of the ship, has hired an Oil Spill Removal Organization to place boom on the surface of the water near the front of the vessel to protect the environment as a precaution.

The Coast Guard says an investigating officer and safety officer from the Coast Guard are on board the Calumet. Additionally, a 45-foot response boat from Coast Guard Station Sault Ste. Marie remains on scene to monitor the safety of the vessel and any possible environmental impact. The Coast Guard Cutter Biscayne Bay is scheduled to arrive on scene Friday afternoon to provide support.

The Coast Guard says it is a slow process to free a grounded ship.

It is still unclear what caused the vessel to run aground.

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