Aging Badger car ferry dumps over 500 tons of toxic coal ash into Lake Michigan each year
MADISON — Environmental and wildlife groups are asking the U.S. Senate and the Landmarks Committee of the National Park System Advisory Board to take action to ensure that Badger car ferry owners are unsuccessful in efforts to circumvent the Clean Water Act in order to continue to dump hundreds of tons of coal ash into Lake Michigan every year.
“Lake Michigan is a national treasure that provides drinking water for 10 million people; the Badger car ferry should not be allowed to treat it like a landfill,” said Amber Meyer Smith, director of government relations at Clean Wisconsin. “Coal ash contains 24 known pollutants including mercury, arsenic and lead. Dumping it straight into Lake Michigan is an egregious act that must stop.”
Every year, the Badger car ferry dumps over 500 tons of coal ash into Lake Michigan on its trips between Manitowoc, Wis. and Ludington Mich. In 2008, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) granted the owners of the aging ship four years to find a solution that would keep coal ash out of Lake Michigan.
As the 2012 deadline draws near, the efforts of the Badger car ferry’s owners are focused on once again trying to circumvent the Clean Water Act instead of cleaning up the aging ship. Owners are asking the U.S. Park Service to declare the ship and its engines a National Landmark, and on Friday, the U.S. House of Representatives passed an amendment that would exempt the ferry from the Clean Water Act for the life of the vessel. If the ship is either declared a National Landmark or if the House amendment is enacted, the Badger car ferry will be allowed to continue dumping toxic coal ash into Lake Michigan.
“There is no reason the Badger car ferry should be permitted to dump toxic coal ash into Lake Michigan when the rest of the Great Lakes fleet has cleaned up its act,” said George Meyer, executive director of the Wisconsin Wildlife Federation. “Every year thousands of anglers fish Lake Michigan, infusing millions of dollars into our economy. By dumping hundreds of tons of toxic coal ash into Lake Michigan every year, the Badger car ferry is jeopardizing a national treasure, a Wisconsin tradition and a multimillion-dollar industry.”