Crackdown on ballast water
Capital News Service
LANSING -- Too many Great Lakes ships are harboring stowaways.
Michigan Gov.-elect Jennifer Granholm is working with
colleagues in three other states to ask the U.S. Environmental
Protection Agency to help solve the problem of aquatic
nuisance species in the ballast water of Great Lakes ships.
"By the EPA's own estimates, aquatic nuisance species
cause $5 billion in damages every year," said Granholm,
the state's attorney general who will become Michigan's
governor Jan. 1.
With the states of Illinois, Minnesota and New York,
Granholm is asking the EPA to repeal its exemption of
ballast water from federal Clean Water Act regulations,
said Gregory Bird, acting attorney general director of
Bird said the federal law requires ships that discharge
pollutants to obtain a permit, but ballast water isn't
included in the requirement. Michigan and the other states
believe the exemption contradicts the act, which specifically
covers biological materials, he said.
International ships entering the St. Lawrence Seaway
are required to exchange ballast water before entering
the system, but some vessels can declare that they have
no ballast to exchange, said Roger Eberhardt, Department
of Environmental Quality Great Lakes water quality specialist.
Eberhardt said that after those ships enter the system,
they don't have to follow any regulations. Once in the
system, they will take on ballast water, but some of their
leftover ballast might be exchanged in the lakes, he said.
"The ships that don't declare any ballast water are the
ones we're after," Eberhardt said.
Kamila Datema, Holland resident and avid scuba diver,
said she has mixed feelings about the aquatic nuisance
"The zebra mussels have cleared up the water quite a
bit," Datema said. "The mussels also cover up all the
treasure, like the shipwrecks."
Datema said the introduction of the round goby has been
"Someone told me that the goby eats all the perch eggs
and the perch supply is diminishing," Datema said.