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Federal judge approves Lake Michigan coal-dumping deal

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The SS Badger.

Federal District Court Judge Janet T. Neff approved a plan that would allow “the country’s last coal-dumping ferryboat” to continue operations as it shifts from unloading coal waste into Lake Michigan to storing the ash elsewhere.

The agreement settles a dispute between the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Lake Michigan Carferry company over the coal ash discarded in Lake Michigan, and the impacts of such discharging.

“The Court finds that the proposed Consent Decree, as amended, is fair, reasonable, consistent with the purposes of the Clean Water Act,” the opinion stated.

According to The Ludington Daily News’ Steve Begnoche, the settlement will allow the ship to continue to run, while setting dumping reduction goals for the 2014 sailing season.

When the EPA began permitting what ships could discharge in 2008, it did not allow for coal ash. Thus began the legal battle to keep the carferry operating. LMC studied its alternatives to using coal but found none feasible. Now the carferry and the EPA have an agreement to have the carferry create storage onboard for the ash created while crossing the lake. It will be disposed of once the ship is in port, but it will still take some time for the modifications to be made to the SS Badger.

- Melanie Kruvelis, Michigan Radio Newsroom

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