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OH Groups: Time for EPA to Strong-arm Great Lakes Invasives

August 8, 2008

Columbus, OH – Several Ohio sporting and conservation groups want to see stronger policies from the Environmental Protection Agency for keeping invasive species of animals and plants out of the Great Lakes. They have asked for a tough rule dealing with ballast water discharged by ocean-going ships that come into the lakes.

Andy Buchsbaum, with the National Wildlife Federation, says the latest EPA proposal simply maintains current rules for discharging ballast water before ships reach the lakes, and he says they know that doesn't work because a new invasive species is discovered every 28 weeks. Ships take on ballast water when they leave port, and may travel thousands of miles to where they will discharge the water before coming into a new port. The water thus may bring with it species from far away that will find no natural enemies in the new waters.

"We are truly facing a crisis, and we can't possibly restore the Great Lakes unless we stop this onslaught of new invasive species."

Buchsbaum says Congress is considering a requirement that ships use technology that would kill invasive stowaways, and EPA should do the same.

"EPA could have, and should have, required ships to put on real technology. And, as a result of their inaction, the Great Lakes are still going to suffer from an onslaught of invasive species."

Buchsbaum’s group has joined others, including the Alliance for the Great Lakes, Great Lakes United, the League of Ohio Sportsmen and the Ohio Environmental Council in asking the EPA to require invasive-killing technologies such as microwave or ultra-violet light treatment.

The EPA has rejected those requirements in the past because, the agency says, such technology is not readily available.

Deborah Smith/Don Mathisen, Public News Service - OH