Lake Superior Ballast Regulations Delayed in Minnesota

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Lake Superior is the largest freshwater lake in the world by area, and contains 10% of the entire world’s available fresh surface water. Its 12,000 cubic kilometers of water are home to over 80 species of fish and its basin supports a population of over 600,000 people. The lake also hosts a huge shipping industry. Each year, the port of Duluth/Superior handles over 1,000 ships with cargos worth almost $2 billion.

Minnesota is the only one of the three Lake Superior states to propose regulations on the treatment of ballast water on those thousand ships. Today, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency is delaying that requirement an additional two years.

Ballast water is an established threat to coastal and freshwater ecosystems, because it can carry invasive species such as zebra mussels and ruffe. The Great Lakes shipping industry insists that their freighters have never been proven to have introduced a new species into U.S. waters. Of course, tracing a species introduction to a particular ship is basically impossible, but we know these introductions are taking place, and we know ballast water is a means of transmitting species that can be both ecologically and economically harmful.

The ballast regulations originally required treatment technology to be installed on ships that enter Minnesota waters of Lake Superior by the beginning of 2016. That deadline has now been pushed back to 2018. Jeff Udd from the Minnesota PCA told the Duluth News Tribune “It’s acknowledging that we don’t think the technology yet exists for (lakers) to meet the ballast treatment guidelines, but that we think it will” by 2018.

Minnesotans can comment on the extension by September 11th. To register your opinion, read the full proposed change HERE, then mail your comments to:

Elizabeth Gawrys
MPCA ‐ 5th Floor
520 Lafayette Rd N
St. Paul, MN 55155‐4194

Or email Ms. Gawrys at elizabeth.gawrys@state.mn.us

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