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Coal-fired ferry wants environmental exemption

S.S. Badger
S.S. Badger

MANITOWAC, Wis (WSAU) The S-S Badger car ferry wants more time to replace its coal-fired boilers. The ferry, which runs from Manitowoc to Ludington, Michigan, has asked the federal E-P-A for an individual water discharge permit instead of a general vessel's permit. That would give the company another five years to upgrade its technology.

The 58-year-old Badger has been given until the end of next year to stop dumping almost four tons of coal ash per day into Lake Michigan. It's the last remaining coal-fired steamship on the Great Lakes -- and the owners say they've been having trouble finding an appropriate new technology. The firm says natural gas boilers seem to be the best alternative for now. Meanwhile a government panel is expected to consider a proposal next spring to declare the Badger a national landmark -- which would let the boat keep dumping coal ash. A competing car ferry that runs from Milwaukee to Muskegon Michigan has fought that move.

Aaron Schultz of Milwaukee's Lake Express says all ferries should have the same environmental rules.