Durbin Statement on EPA Agreement with S.S. Badger Operators

[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) today made the following statement in reaction to the announcement by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that they have formally lodged a consent decree requiring the S.S. Badger to stop dumping coal ash into Lake Michigan by the end of the 2014 season. 


“The S.S. Badger, the filthiest ship on the Great Lakes, has been given two more years to dump hundreds of tons of dangerous coal ash into Lake Michigan.  The millions of people who live, work and play in and around this beautiful Lake should be outraged that this filthy ship will continue to operate,” said Durbin.


“There will be a public comment period on this consent decree and I invite those who are fed up with the S.S. Badger’s miserable history of polluting our Lake to join me in carefully reviewing this decision by the EPA.  To the Lake Michigan Carferry Service which has a lengthy history of seeking loopholes and political fixes to avoid cleaning up their spewing vessel, I have four words: “Stop Badgering Our Lake!”


As the ship travels from its home port of Ludington, MI, to Manitowoc, WI, it dumps 509 tons of coal ash into Lake Michigan each year – a quantity greater than the total waste dumped annually by the 125 other largest ships operating on the Great Lakes. The coal ash contains arsenic, lead, and mercury, all of which can cause cancer when consumed in drinking water, cause serious damage to fish populations, and poison fish that are part of our food supply.


Under a previous agreement negotiated between the owners of the S.S. Badger and the EPA the S.S. Badger was given a December 2012 deadline to retrofit the ferry with a new boiler that would prevent further coal ash dumping.  In an attempt to circumvent these standards the owners of the S.S. Badger have attempted to secure both the designation of the SS Badger as a National Historic Landmark and legislative language that would exempt “vessels of historic significance” from EPA regulation of discharge. 


In March of last year, Durbin announced that he will actively oppose the company’s efforts to secure a permit shortly after meeting with the President and CEO of the Lake Michigan Carferry Service, Robert Manglitz.  In December, Durbin successfully blocked the “vessel of historic significance” language that would have exempted the S.S. Badger from long-standing EPA regulation of discharge from being added to the Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Act.