CLAYTON, N.Y. (WWTI) — Concerns continue to grow regarding what unwanted pests may be hiding in vessels on the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Seaway.
The focus is on ballast water, otherwise known as the water freighter vessels hold when transiting the waterways that allows them to adjust buoyancy and trim.
But scientists have proven this water to be a carrier for invasive species, including widespread invasions that have hit Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River. Such as zebra and quagga mussels and the round goby.
“Since the Seaway opened in the 1950s, we’ve had salt water ships and they have continued to bring aquatic invasive species in their ballast water,” Save The River Executive Director John Peach confirmed.
However, lawmakers and environmentalists are arguing that this can be regulated, pointing all attention to the EPA. Dr. Andrew Cohen, who has been studying Ballast Water for over 20 years and bionvasions his whole career explained more.
“It’s coming up on 50 years since the Clean Water Act was passed,” Dr. Cohen noted. “This is the last remaining pollutant discharge that the EPA is still not regulating under the Act.”
The issue has already brought four lawsuits onto the EPA and the fight is nowhere near over.
In late June, over 30 Congressmembers sent a letter to the EPA requesting that the agency set discharge standards for Ballast Water based on available technology and in compliance with the clean water act.
This argument hit home in the North Country, as many environmentalists are demanding immediate action.
“It’s very important that members of Congress get on board to push the EPA to do their job,” Peach stated. “Their job is to keep the water at least as clean as the Clean Water Act.”
Dr. Cohen added that this, unlike other environmental issues, has a solution, especially considering modern-day filtration technology.
“We can kill or remove these organisms. We as a society are pretty good at doing things like that,” Cohen said. “We have the tools, we’re just not using them.
The full letter addressed to the EPA can be read below: