Stuck Chem Norma to be wiggled free from St. Lawrence’s muddy bottom

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By KEVIN SHEA

kshea@wdt.net

MORRISBURG, ONTARIO — Wednesday’s attempt to free the Chem Norma was unsuccessful. Today, a new plan to wiggle it free will be enacted.

Two tugboats, the Ocean K. Rusby and Ocean Pierre Julien, arrived at the scene of the ship that ran aground in the St. Lawrence Seaway on Wednesday to inspect and try to release the ship from the river bottom’s grip. But due to the muddy nature of the river floor in which the boat is stuck, there is now a new plan to pull it out: wiggle the boat.

“It’s like you’ve got your boot stuck in the mud, and now you’ve got to lift your boot,” said Andrew K. Bogora, service communications inspector for the St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corp.

This analogy was passed down to him by a senior marine officer whose identity was kept private. The officer was in direct contact with authorities inspecting the accident site, including the Ontario Ministry of the Environment, the Canadian Coast Guard and Transport Canada, as well as others. All confirmed to the senior marine officer, who passed word down to Mr. Bogora, that the boat is stuck in mud, not any man-made construction. There has been speculation on Twitter that that’s not the case.

The rumor on Twitter is that the ship is stuck on a lock known as Lock 23. Mr. Bogora assured the Times today that this was not the case.

Michael Folsom, a veteran Seaway watcher, is one of the believers that the ship might be stuck on the lock.

“Based on the position of the ship, the close proximity to land, and review of satellite images, I strongly believe that the ship ventured into far shallower water and is against the old Lock off Morrisburg, Ontario which was built before the days of the modern Seaway,” wrote Mr. Folsom in an email to the Times.

Attempts to wiggle the boat free will commence today.

The Chem Norma, a tanker, hit shallow waters and became stuck at 4:09 a.m. Tuesday, shocking sleeping locals from Morrisburg, Ontario, and Waddington. The accident was caused by a steering issue that was mechanical in nature. The mechanical issue has been corrected, according to Mr. Bogora.

The ship, a double-hulled tanker, was viewed by a Canadian inspector Tuesday and was cleared to resume its trip, according to Mr. Bogora.

Several government agencies have also surveyed the ship and the site and have confirmed that there is no, and hasn’t been any, pollution leaking from the ship into the river.

On Wednesday, the proper authorities analyzed the physical structure of the ship, later confirming it was ready to sail, according to Mr. Bogora.

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