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April 03, 2020

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Coast Guard Issues Final Great Lakes Ballast Water Standards

The Coast Guard has issued final ballast water standards applicable to ships on the Great Lakes. Currently, "salties" (ships that enter the Great Lakes system from the ocean) must discharge their ballast tanks before entering the Great Lakes through the St. Lawrence Seaway. The Coast Guard has acknowledged, however, that some organisms could survive in remaining puddles of water and mud. The new standards will require onboard treatment of ballast water to kill as many fish, mussels, and even microbes as possible. 

The new standard limits numbers of living organisms in particular volumes of water. Ships will have to install equipment meeting the standards developed by the International Maritime Organization. "Once fully implemented, this ballast water discharge standard will significantly reduce the risk of an introduction of aquatic nuisance species in the Great Lakes," said Rear Adm. Michael Parks, commander of the Coast Guard's Cleveland district. However, in a written statement, the Coast Guard said that it "fully intends to issue a later rule that will establish a more stringent phase-two discharge standard." 

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About this Author

Timothy J. Lundgren, Varnum, Environmental Attorney, Public Service Lawyer

Tim is a partner in the Environmental, Energy and Natural Resources team. On energy issues, Tim represents clients before the Michigan Public Service Commission, including energy suppliers, marketers, manufacturers, agricultural processors, public entities and institutions, and trade associations representing competitive power supply and business interests. He also advises clients on developments in energy law and policy in Michigan, and assists them in the development of legislative proposals.

Tim works on natural resource development and environmental permitting...