EPA allows coal-fired Lake Michigan ferry to operate for 2 more years

The following is the text of a press release issued by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency:

(CHICAGO) – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today announced the lodging of a proposed consent decree that requires Lake Michigan Carferry Service, Inc. (LMC) of Ludington, Michigan, to eliminate the discharge of coal ash into Lake Michigan by the end of the 2014 sailing season.

In 2013 and 2014, the ferry will reduce its discharge of coal ash and LMC will pay a $25,000 civil penalty for violating mercury water quality standards in 2012, according to the proposed consent decree.

“This consent decree offers the fastest and most certain path available to EPA to stop the discharge of coal ash from the Badger into Lake Michigan,” said EPA Region 5 Administrator Susan Hedman. “The enforcement agreement reduces the discharge of coal ash more quickly and with greater oversight than would occur during the appeal of a decision to issue or deny a permit – a process that often takes several years."

The S.S. Badger was authorized to discharge coal ash under the 2008 National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Vessel General Permit. A permit provision authorized that discharge until December 2012. The S.S. Badger is the last coal-fired ship operating on the Great Lakes.

Last year, LMC applied for an individual NPDES permit to allow the S.S. Badger to continue discharging coal ash into Lake Michigan. In light of the settlement announced today, EPA does not plan to make a decision on that permit application.

DOJ and EPA will accept and consider comments on the proposed consent decree during a 30-day public comment period, to be announced shortly in the Federal Register. The proposed consent decree is available on the DOJ website at http://www.justice.gov/enrd/Consent_Decrees.html. Additional information about the S.S. Badger is available at http://www.epa.gov/region5/water/npdestek/badger/.

By Professional Mariner Staff