Written by MI DNR   
Friday, 23 February 2007 11:48

The Department of Environmental Quality announced today the first ten Ballast Water Control General Permits have been issued to an international shipping company in accordance with Michigan’s new ballast water control law.  The law, which went into effect January 1, is designed to prevent the introduction of invasive species into the Great Lakes

NaviBulgar-Smolyan, a Bulgarian shipping company, has received DEQ authorization to engage in port operations in Michigan when the St. Lawrence Seaway opens next month. 

“This marks a milestone in our efforts to protect the health of the Great Lakes and demonstrates the ability for all shipping companies using Michigan’s ports to obtain these important environmental permits in a timely manner,” said DEQ Director Steven E. Chester.  “Any user of the Great Lakes must share in the responsibility to ensure our waters are clear of invasive species and safe for future generations to enjoy.”

Under the new law, oceangoing ships must obtain a permit from the DEQ in order to use Michigan ports.  Permits are issued only if the applicant demonstrates that they will either not discharge ballast water or will use one of four approved environmentally sound technologies and methods to prevent the discharge of aquatic invasive species. 

NaviBulgar applied for permit coverage for its vessels to conduct port operations without discharging ballast water; however, the company is evaluating several ballast water treatment methods for future implementation.

Vessels often take in thousands of gallons of ballast water to stabilize the ship when traveling without cargo.  The ballast water is then released in port as new cargo is loaded, potentially releasing millions of live organisms into the Great Lakes.  Often these invasive species have no natural predators in their new environment and can crowd out native species, cause environmental damage, or transport foreign disease or parasites. 

“Invasive species cost literally billions of dollars to control once they are introduced to the Great Lakes ecosystem, and too often, trying to control them is a losing battle,” said Michigan Office of the Great Lakes Director Ken DeBeaussaert.  “We encourage our fellow Great Lakes states to follow Michigan’s example and put to end the introduction of invasive species from ballast water.”

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