Environmentalists, members of Congress call for stricter ballast controls

Published: Jul. 7, 2022 at 5:29 PM EDT
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CLAYTON, New York (WWNY) - When ships come to the St. Lawrence River, it’s what they leave behind that’s an issue for environmentalists, and members of Congress.

They’ve penned a letter, hoping for change to protect what’s in the Thousand Islands.

“In the bottom of the ballast water tanks, there is always a level of sludge, and the larvae from the fish and all sorts of aquatic invasive species can live in that sludge,” said John Peach, executive director of Save the River.

The ships load water into the ballast tank at whatever port they’re at, to balance the load when cargo is transferred on and off the ship. But that water can be from fresh or even salt water ports in other parts of the world.

To try to help, 33 members of the House of Representatives submitted a letter to the head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, or EPA.

“They can bring these species over that have no known predators into the Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence River, and it can totally change the ecosystem,” Peach said. “The Zebra mussel and Quagga mussel are great examples.”

Peach said they’re hoping for a standard filtration system that all companies would need to abide by, but said there needs to be more Congressional support to even get to that point.

“We only have 33 of the Congressmen and Congresswomen to sign onto it,” he said. “We need a lot more, we need support from all the Great Lakes.”

Peach said the EPA is currently proposing tank standards that the courts have already rejected, because they failed to comply with the Clean Water Act.

He said he hopes the continued push will bring forth the best available technology to help with future regeneration.

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