TANKED UP: Barge begins offloading cargo for new chemical tanks

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CORNWALL, Ontario - A lengthy pipeline is stretching from a barge to the new chemical tanks under construction on Cornwall's waterfront, presumably with the first shipment of controversial chemicals to be stored in the Seaway City.

The Lambert Spirit, a massive barge operated by McKeil Marine, docked at the Cornwall Harbour Thursday and its crew immediately set to work with offloading cargo.

A few passersby stopped to watch what is likely to be the first of many shipments which have created a firestorm of criticism in Cornwall. The tanks will house calcium chloride, an ice melter and dust suppressant.

Critics, including Groupe Reaniassance Group chair Chuck Charlebois, have argued in vain against the construction of the tanks, which now appear to be operational.

"Now we know why they were so busy like bees these last few weeks," he said.

Trillium Distribution leased the waterfront property from Transport Canada to erect the tanks which will largely be underground.

"They obviously have orders to fill...as soon as possible," said Charlebois, who seems resigned to having to put up with the tanks, at least in the short-term. "We've lost that battle (to have the tanks removed). It's been poorly handled from the start.

"Now we have to set our sights on divestiture."

City hall, Akwesasne and Transport Canada have had preliminary discussions concerning a port divestiture program that would see the municipality and the First Nation assume ownership of the property.

Just how that would impact an existing lease agreement remains to be seen.

Mayor Bob Kilger said the city had been advised that a shipment would be arriving at around this time.

"We were not told exactly when, but we knew to expect something," the mayor said.

Organizations: Transport Canada, Groupe Reaniassance Group, First Nation

Geographic location: CORNWALL, Ontario, Seaway

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