EPA accepts application to keep Badger going, final decision still pending

August 30, 2012

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LUDINGTON – The SS Badger is one step closer to operating past this year. Lake Michigan Carferry has announced it received a formal letter from United States Environmental Protection Agency Region 5 in Chicago on Wednesday stating the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) individual permit application has been accepted as complete.In other words the EPA has accepted LMC’s application requesting it be exempt from the EPA’s ban of coal ash discharge into the Great Lakes.

“We are confident in our position and although several hurdles remain, we are now moving forward with the capital investments on the Badger for our 2013 sailing season,” stated Bob Manglitz, president and chief executive officer of Lake Michigan Carferry. “We have worked very hard to get our application submitted and accepted, and we will continue to work closely with the EPA to get the 5-year individual permit approved in a timely manner.”

“We will continue to provide the EPA with any additional information they request and consider this notification from the U.S. EPA a positive step forward,” stated Manglitz.If the permit is not approved, the Badger will no longer be allowed to operate after this year until it comes up with an alternative solution to dumping coal ash into Lake Michigan. The carferry service has explored several options including converting the ship to diesel fuel — a multi-million dollar conversion, trucking the ash to an on-land location — which would be a very time consuming and costly choice — or converting the Badger to burning compressed natural gas, the most likely alternative.

Converting the Badger to compressed natural gas would allow the historical vessel to continue to use its steam-powered engines. This option is being explored as part of a university study. The 410-foot SS Badger has been in operation since 1953. It was the last carferry built to transport railroad cars across Lake Michigan. It, along with the City of Midland ’41 and SS Spartan, were sold in the 1980s to Michigan-Wisconsin Transportation.

After that company went bankrupt in the early 1990s, the three ships were sold to Ludington native Charles Conrad of Holland. He created Lake Michigan Carferry and chose the Badger as the vessels first ship to operate. The Midland was converted into a barge and owned by a subsidiary of LMC and the Spartan is used for spare parts. The Badger’s 2012 sailing season continues into October.

Story and photo by Rob Alway, Editor-in-Chief

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