Traverse City Record-Eagle

Opinion

May 9, 2013

Editorial: EPA gives Badger a pass to pollute Lake Mich.

To hear the Environmental Protection Agency tell it, this is the last straw. No more. And we mean it.

Until the next time, anyway.

The EPA has said the SS Badger, the nation’s last operating coal-fired ferryboat, has this year and next to find a way to stop dumping hundreds of tons of coal ash into Lake Michigan. Besides just stopping, apparently.

The 410-foot Badger makes daily round trips between Ludington and Manitowoc, Wis. during the sailing season, and in the process dumps coal ash — containing arsenic, mercury and other heavy metals — into the lake.

The EPA gave the ferry a four-year dispensation in 2008. Part of the deal was that the ship’s owners had that time to find a new propulsion system or a way to deal with the ash besides dumping it overboard. They didn’t do either.

So here we are in 2013 and the Badger is sailing again; this time the EPA has given Lake Michigan Carferry this year and next to deal with the ash. Or else.

So we’re supposed to believe that while LMC couldn’t come up with options in the previous four years they’ll do so this time around. Excuse us for being skeptical.

This is absurd. The boat dumps mercury into a lake in which the fish are already so full of the stuff people are warned to strictly limit their consumption. The argument that it’s “only” 500-plus tons a year and it’s a big lake doesn’t wash.

Whoever at the EPA allowed this to happen should be looking for another job. And the Badger should be on the beach.

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