The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has granted the owners of the S.S. Badger permission to apply for a new five year permit to continue dumping coal ash into Lake Michigan.
The ferry, which runs between Ludington, Michigan and Manitowoc, dumps an estimated 500 tons of waste ash into the lake each year. The EPA had previously set a December 2012 deadline for them to stop the practice.
Lynda Matson with Lake Michigan Car Ferry, which owns the ship, says the decision comes after the ash was tested and found to be benign. She says it is mixed with lake water and put back into Lake Michigan, but the dilution level is so high it has no effect on drinking water.
Matson says they are cooperating with the EPA in converting the ship to burn natural gas. She says a new permit will give them more time to develop the infrastructure and design needed to complete that process.
Matson adds the Badger is a historic vessel that provides over 200 jobs in both communities.
Both sides are scheduled to meet in the next few weeks.
Brian Norton, WOMT