Environmentalists want EPA to pick up the pace on ballast water cleanupEfforts to stop more invasive species from getting into the Great Lakes by cleaning up ship ballast water are moving ahead, but not as fast as environmentalists would like.
By: Chuck Quirmbach, Wisconsin Public Radio, Superior Telegram
Efforts to stop more invasive species from getting into the Great Lakes by cleaning up ship ballast water are moving ahead, but not as fast as environmentalists would like.
The EPA and Coast Guard have moved ahead with rules that go beyond getting ships to exchange their ballast water as they come in from the ocean, in order to cut down on invasive species arriving from overseas ports. The recent rules try to encourage the development of new technology to kill most of the remaining invasives inside ballast tanks and sediment.
Craig Middlebrook, of the U.S.-St. Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation, contends ballast treatment companies aren't focusing on vessels that travel the Great Lakes. “The world fleets [are] probably ... between 70,000 and 80,000 vessels worldwide that transit the world's oceans. In any given year, those that transit the Great Lakes are between 400-500 [ships]. So where is the emphasis from the vendors and from the research? It's in the saltwater world.”
Some testing of ballast treatment technology is going on at a site in Superior, says Allegra Cangelosi of the Northeast-Midwest Institute. “We take it through the paces and see how well it's working according to our protocols.”
Good news, says Jared Teutsch of the Alliance for the Great Lakes. But he says until working technology is in place, more invasives may be arriving here without people knowing. “Just because we haven't found anything yet, doesn't mean it's not there. And I think we've proven that with the number of invasives that have already gotten into the Great Lakes.”
Scientists say many of the roughly 180 non-native species already in the Great Lakes arrived here in dirty ballast water.