Ferry emits more pollution than all other lakegoing vessels combined
SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Michael Frerichs (D-Champaign) secured the adoption today of a Senate resolution urging the federal Environmental Protection Agency not to renew an exemption that allows the S.S. Badger, a car ferry operating on Lake Michigan, to continue spewing nearly four tons of coal ash into the water each day. Frerichs and his Senate colleagues joined U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) in criticizing a deal reached last week that would allow the ship to continue polluting the lake through the end of 2014.
“The EPA has already given the Badger’s owners four years to clean up their act, and now they want another two years to pollute one of our state’s greatest natural resources,” Frerichs said. “The Illinois Senate is saying no to another thousand tons of toxic ash in Lake Michigan. This needs to stop now, not in 2015.”
The ash emitted by the steam-powered, coal-burning S.S. Badger contains arsenic, lead, mercury and other heavy metals that can damage aquatic ecosystems. The 500 tons of pollutants it dumps each year far outstrip the 89 tons emitted annually by all other lakegoing vessels combined. The Badger’s owners have considered several alternatives to the coal-fired engine, including diesel, liquid coal and a system that would store the coal ash and then deposit it in a landfill.
“We’re adding our voices to the chorus encouraging the EPA to do its job instead of protecting a major polluter,” Frerichs said. “I hope the Badger keeps sailing, but with cleaner technology. I don’t think we have to choose between preserving the lake’s history and protecting its water, air and wildlife.”