Blue August for lakers

This summer has offered little relief for freighters plying the Great Lakes. The Lake Carriers’ Association reported today that U.S. vessels hauled 7.2 million tons of dry-bulk cargo in August — 40 percent less than during the same month last year.

Still, it wasn’t the worst month of a shipping season many people will be eager to forget. Through August of this year, U.S. lakers have moved 35.6 million tons of cargo — 45 percent less than average for the five prior years.

On the brighter side, September should show at least some improvement for shipments of taconite, as Iron Range mines have stepped up production and steel mills are beginning to do the same. Through August, lakers have shipped only about 2 million tons of taconite pellets — 62 percent less than during the same period last year.