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Lake Michigan Carferry, Inc., S.S. Badger

Contact Information

Press Officer
Phillippa Cannon
(cannon.phillippa@epa.gov)
312-353-6218 or 800-621-8431, ext. 3-6218

U.S. EPA Region 5
77 W. Jackson Blvd.
Chicago, IL 60604

EPA has announced the filing of a motion to enter a revised consent decree that requires Lake Michigan Carferry Service, Inc. (LMC) of Ludington, Mich., to cease the discharge of coal ash from the S.S. Badger at the end of the 2014 sailing season. The revised consent decree was strengthened in response to almost 8,000 public comments on a proposed consent decree that was lodged in March 2013.

The comments cover a wide range of viewpoints. EPA and the Department of Justice considered all comments before moving to enter a consent decree in this matter. All comments are available below.

The proposed consent decree has been revised:

In 2012, LMC applied for an individual NPDES permit to allow the Badger to continue discharging coal ash into Lake Michigan. In light of the settlement announced in March 2013, EPA is determining how the information being developed by LMC under the consent decree regarding coal ash retention should factor into the decision on the permit application.


Contents

Background

The S.S. Badger, owned and operated by Lake Michigan Carferry, Inc., was authorized to discharge under EPA's National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System Vessel General Permit issued in December 2008. This permit covers discharges from many vessels into waters of the United States and contains specific provisions for discharges from large ferries in Section 5.3. One of these provisions authorized the discharge of coal-ash slurry from coal-fired propulsion systems until Dec. 19, 2012.

The Badger is the last coal-fired ship operating on the Great Lakes.

In documents submitted to EPA during the drafting of the 2008 Vessel General Permits, Lake Michigan Carferry indicated that they would pursue eliminating the coal-ash discharge and hoped to achieve this goal prior to Dec. 19, 2012. By June 2011, these efforts were unsuccessful and Lake Michigan Carferry approached EPA for an individual National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit for the coal-ash discharge.

Timeline

October 29, 2013 - Lake Michigan Carferry Service, Inc. (LMC) pays a civil penalty in the amount of $25,000 plus interest as stipulated under the Consent Decree. 

Oct. 10, 2013 – Court approves the revised consent decree.

Sept. 13, 2013 - EPA announced the filing of a motion to enter a revised consent decree that requires Lake Michigan Carferry Service, Inc. (LMC) of Ludington, Michigan to cease the discharge of coal ash from the S.S. Badger at the end of the 2014 sailing season.

News release: EPA Strengthens S.S. Badger Consent Decree in Response to Public Comments; Penalties Increased for Failing to Cease Coal Ash Discharge to Lake Michigan at End of 2014 Sailing Season - Sept. 13, 2013

March 22, 2013 — EPA announced the lodging of a proposed consent decree that requires Lake Michigan Carferry Service, Inc. (LMC) of Ludington, Mich., to eliminate the discharge of coal ash into Lake Michigan by the end of the 2014 sailing season.

News Release: S.S. Badger Coal Ash Discharge to Lake Michigan to Cease by End of 2014 Sailing Season - March 22, 2013

Sept. 28, 2012 — EPA received information requested in the Aug. 9, 2012, letter and a Clean Water Act §308 request in a number of submissions. EPA began the review of the information and worked towards preparing a draft permitting decision.

Aug. 29, 2012 — EPA notified the Lake Michigan Carferry that their permit application was complete. EPA identified information in the application that required clarification and that would allow EPA to make a final permit decision. EPA requested that the Lake Michigan Carferry provide this information by Sept. 28.

Aug. 16, 2012 — Lake Michigan Carferry Service sent a letter to Regional Administrator Susan Hedman stating that they had learned of a new and more encompassing approach to ash retention that may make that option for controlling the ash discharge more viable than previously thought.

July 25, 2012 — Lake Michigan Carferry provided a response to EPA's July 18, 2012, letter indicating that EPA's determination of an incomplete application was not consistent with the applicable regulations. They also stated that they did not understand that EPA's Feb. 24, 2012, letter unconditionally required the submission of five coal ash effluent samples and two ambient lake water samples.

July 18, 2012 — EPA notified Lake Michigan Carferry that the permit application submitted on May 23, 2012, was incomplete, consistent with 40 C.F.R. §124.3. EPA found that the application did not contain the five coal ash samples and two ambient lake water samples required by EPA in its letter dated Feb. 24, 2012. EPA acknowledged that the company had submitted additional effluent samples that may address the deficiency identified in EPA's letter, but that the effluent data could not be fully reviewed prior to the end of sixty day review period set out in the regulations.

June 22, 2012 — Lake Michigan Carferry responded to EPA's June 20, 2012, letter indicating that they would provide three additional effluent samples and one additional lake water sample. These samples would be collected and analyzed using the same methodology as the samples submitted on June 21, 2012.

June 21, 2012 — Lake Michigan Carferry submitted documents for the effluent sampling that occurred in early June. Two samples were collected and analyzed and the preliminary results provided to EPA.

June 20, 2012 — EPA sent Lake Michigan Carferry a letter with preliminary comments on the permit application materials submitted on May 23, 2012. EPA identified issues with the one effluent data sample provided with the application and the failure to submit the 5 samples required in EPA's Feb. 24, 2012, letter.

May 23, 2012 — U.S. Environmental Protection Agency received application forms and supplemental information from the Lake Michigan Carferry. The company indicated in the cover letter to the May 23, 2012, submission that they will be conducting additional effluent sampling in early June 2012.

Feb. 6, 2012 — EPA required Lake Michigan Carferry to apply for a NPDES individual permit because it anticipates that the discharge of coal ash from the S.S. Badger will continue beyond Dec. 19, 2012, when authorization for that discharge under the 2008 Vessel General Permit ceases. EPA has required the company to submit the complete permit application no later than June 29, 2012. On Feb. 24, 2012, EPA requested additional information from the company necessary for the application.

Nov. 2, 2011 — EPA received a petition under 40 C.F.R. §122.28 (b)(3)(i) from Lake Michigan Carferry regarding the discharge of coal-ash slurry from the vessel. This petition requests that the company be required to apply for and obtain an NPDES individual permit for its vessel rather than continue coverage under the 2008 Vessel General Permit.

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Documents

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Compliance

Correspondence

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Additional Application Material

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Application

Attachments

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Petition

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