Lansing— State Sen. Rick Jones, R-Grand Ledge, today asked the owners of the SS Badger to clean up their act and stop polluting Lake Michigan. Sen. Jones’ district includes Lake Michigan shoreline from Holland to Saugatuck.
It has been reported that the SS Badger, which runs from Manitowoc to Ludington, dumps 509 tons of coal ash into Lake Michigan containing mercury, arsenic, lead and other toxic metals. Additional reports indicate federal records show that amount far exceeds waste jettisoned by all 125 other freighters on the Great lakes.
In 2008, the Environmental Protection Agency gave the owners four years to find a solution. As the EPA deadline comes to an end, the owners again want to delay a fix until 2017.
“Today I’m asking the owners of the Badger to ‘Go Green!’ They have stalled long enough. It’s time to capture and contain the toxic coal ash or convert the ship to a clean power source,” said Jones. “The worlds’ finest example of drinkable freshwater, with billions of dollars in fishing industry, must not be polluted so that they can make more profit.”
The Badger’s coal-burning technology was becoming obsolete when the ferry began operation in Lake Michigan. It started carrying railroad cars for the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway in 1953. Similar ships were retired or converted to cleaner-burning diesel fuel.
The formers owners moved to abandon the Lake Michigan ferry in the late 1970s. The boat was rescued from the scrap yard in the 1980s, and the new owners sought special exemptions so they could continue to pollute. The ship is now billed as a nostalgic travel option taking cars and people back and forth across Lake Michigan.