Dock upgrade for Great Lakes oil shipping delayed

  • Associated Press
  • January 10, 2014 - 10:40 AM

SUPERIOR, Wis. — The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources said it needs more information before it decides whether to approve a $20 million dock upgrade to Superior's harbor to allow shipments of crude oil on the Great Lakes.

Elkhorn Industries wants to refurbish the dock, which would be used to ship oil by barge or tanker. The industry is trying to keep up with booming supplies of crude oil from Canada and North Dakota that are sent east for refinement, prompting the consideration of shipping the oil across Lake Superior and Lake Michigan.

Elkhorn Industries hasn't resolved full ownership of the lakefront property in Superior and other development issues, the DNR wrote to the company. The Alliance for the Great Lakes released the DNR's letter to Elkhorn Industries.

The DNR should conduct a more complete assessment of the project, including the risks of shipping crude oil by water, Alliance spokesman Lyman Welch told Wisconsin Public Radio News ( ).

"It's extremely important that we ensure that the lakes are protected from spills, and that we have strong requirements for spill prevention and safety," Welch said.

The alliance recently issued a report on potential problems linked to increased shipping of crude oil over the Great Lakes. The report concluded that ports and the Great Lakes shipping fleet aren't designed to ship tar sands crude oil.

"This gives the community and the region much-needed time for a larger binational discussion about whether the Great Lakes should become the next frontier for shipping tar sands crude oil," said Welch, water quality program director for the alliance.

The DNR said it will need "significantly more information about the plans and activities proposed at the site."

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