EPA to Decide Coal-Fired Ferry Fate

by | Feb 28, 2013

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An EPA ruling that could determine the fate of the S.S. Badger – one of the country’s last remaining coal-fired steamships – is expected shortly.

The 410-foot Badger ferries passengers and vehicles between Ludington, Mich., and Manitowoc, Wis., while dumping more than 500 tons of ash slurry containing contaminants including mercury and arsenic into Lake Michigan each season, the AP reports.

The boat was ordered to stop the dumping by the EPA in 2008 and was given a four-year grace period, which expired in December, according to The Lansing State Journal. Lake Michigan Carferry Inc., owner of the vessel, has asked the agency for more time as it researches new fueling technology.

The company says it is looking to switch to liquefied natural gas or use an onboard ash storage system but needs more time to research and install either method. Unless the EPA grants an extension – a situation the owners are publicly optimistic will occur – the Badger will be grounded, according to The Journal.

Rival company Lake Express, which runs a diesel-powered catamaran providing a similar service to the Badger, is arguing that the Badger should have to follow the same environmental rules as other Great Lake vessels.

The rival companies have swapped accusations of preferential treatment from government, the paper reports. Lynne Stechschulte, a developer of local tourism web sites, recently accused Lake Express of slipping “anti-Badger ads” on to her sites, reports the LSJ.

In October, FutureShip, a subsidiary of GL Group, announced that an emission-free passenger ferry that it designed will be operating between Denmark, Germany and Sweden within the next five years. The vessel, which holds 1,500 people and about 1.3 miles of parking spaces, will run on a combination of solar PV power, fuel cells, batteries and wind power.

An all-electric ferry, which designers Siemens, Norwegian shipyard Fjellstrand and shipping company Norled claim is the world’s first, is set to run on the route between Lavik and Oppedal, Norway, across the Sognefjord. The 80-meter vessel, which was announced in January, can carry 120 cars and 360 passengers.

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