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GLIN==> Press Release: Groups to Sue Shipping Companies To Stop Invasive Species


Groups to Sue Shipping Companies To Stop Invasive Species

*The threat is urgent, the solution is clear, and the law is

Ann Arbor, MI (June 21)-Conservation groups led by the National
Wildlife Federation today announced their intent to file a citizen suit
against several shipping companies that operate in the Great Lakes,
demanding compliance with the Clean Water Act. The lawsuit aims to shut
the door on aquatic invasive species.

*We*re initiating legal action today because invasive species are
killing the Great Lakes,* said Andy Buchsbaum, center director for
NWF*s Great Lakes office. *The threat is urgent, the solution is
clear, and the law is straight-forward. We*re heading to court to
force ocean-going ships to comply with U.S. law to stop invasive species
introductions, because every day we wait the problem gets worse and the
solutions more costly. Enough is enough.*

The Clean Water Act prohibits vessels from discharging pollutants,
including biological materials, into U.S. waters without a permit. The
legal action charges that the shipping companies named have discharged
ballast water containing non-native species into the Great Lakes, which
threatens those waters since such species have the potential to spread
rapidly to other areas and increase vastly in number.

*These ships are discharging untreated ballast water into the Great
Lakes in violation of the Clean Water Act,* said Buchsbaum. *The law
is straightforward: discharges are prohibited unless you have a permit.
To come into compliance, these ships either need to stop discharging
ballast water or install treatment and obtain a discharge permit from
the EPA or the state in which the discharges occur.*

There currently are at least four effective, commercially-available
treatments available for ballast water, as identified by the state of
Michigan. One of the chlorine-based treatments is similar to how
municipal water supply facilities sterilize drinking water.

*We have well-known solutions to fight invasive species, protect our
fish and wildlife, and ensure that people have abundant fishing
opportunities now and for generations to come,* said Joel Brammeier,
associate director for policy for the Alliance for the Great Lakes,
which is a party to the litigation. *There is absolutely no reason why
ships cannot treat ballast water.*

NWF and its conservation partners have long advocated for comprehensive
federal legislation to stop the introduction of invasive species.
However, legislation sits dormant in Congress and has failed to pass for
four years.

*We have our champions in Congress, but the opposition has stopped
protective laws from being passed. Waiting even six months will allow
more aquatic invaders to enter our waters, so we are pursuing every
measure possible,* Buchsbaum said. *After the 60 day waiting period
expires, we expect to file complaints in federal court against the most
egregious of these illegal dischargers.*

Although the Clean Water Act itself prohibits ballast water discharges
without a permit, for years the shipping industry took advantage of an
EPA exemption to the law. But in 1999, conservation groups petitioned
the EPA to withdraw the exemption because it violated the Clean Water
Act, and in 2005 a federal court agreed.

*The shipping industry has been on notice since 1999 that it would
need Clean Water Act discharge permits, but instead of obtaining those
it fought to retain its illegal loophole,* Buchsbaum said. *The
shippers* free pass has cost the nation billions. We can*t afford to
wait any longer for this industry to clean up its act. It*s time for
these ships to comply with the law.*

Aquatic and terrestrial invasive species cost the nation more than $120
billion annually in damage and control costs. These costs are likely to
rise. Scientists believe that the Great Lakes and other freshwater
systems are increasingly vulnerable to invasive species because of
global warming.

The lawsuit names Fednav Limited, Lake Superior Inc., Lake Huron Inc.,
Anglo-Eastern Ship Management Ltd., Isadora Shipping Ltd., Isolda
Shipping Ltd., Ziemia Two Ltd., Ziemia Three Ltd., Polsteam, Pot
Scheepvaart B.V., Victoriaborg B.V., C.V. Scheepvaatondernerning
Virginiaborg, and Wagenborg Shipping B.V.

Partners with the National Wildlife Federation and Alliance for the
Great Lakes include: Indiana Wildlife Federation, League of Ohio
Sportsmen, Michigan United Conservation Clubs, Minnesota Conservation
Federation, Prairie Rivers Network and Wisconsin Wildlife Federation.

For more information: 

For Immediate Release: 
June 21, 2007

Jordan Lubetkin, National Wildlife Federation, (734) 769-3351 x 23,
Gary Botzek, Minnesota Conservation Federation, (651) 293-9295,
Joel Brammeier, Alliance for the Great Lakes, (312) 939-0838 x 224,
Glynnis Collins, Prairie Rivers Network, (217) 344-2371,
John Goss, Indiana Wildlife Federation, (317) 525-0198,
George Meyer, Wisconsin Wildlife Federation, (608) 516-5545,
Larry Mitchell, League of Ohio Sportsmen, (614) 274-8370,
Donna Stine, Michigan United Conservation Clubs, (517) 346-6487,

Quotes from Our State Partners:

*We*re taking legal action now to protect the Great Lakes, our
economy and quality of life, because all other options have been
exhausted,* said Glynnis Collins, interim executive director of
Prairie Rivers Network. *It*s time to take a stand now because the
longer we wait the problem gets worse and more costly.*

*Legal action is required now to slow the onslaught of invasive
species and stand up for the millions of people who depend on the Great
Lakes for their drinking water, jobs, and way of life,* said John
Goss, executive director of the Indiana Wildlife Federation. *Delay
will only make matters worse. It*s time the industry responsible for
the majority of invasive species introductions obey the law and become
part of the solution instead of the problem.*

*The shipping industry has run out of time and excuses,* said Donna
Stine, interim executive director for Michigan United Conservation
Clubs. *Michigan citizens are fed up! Our sportsmen are watching the
demise of our Great Lakes fishery, and now all of our inland lakes*
fisheries are at risk. In Michigan, our bait dealers are now under more
regulation than the shippers. How absurd is that? It*s time to stand
up and say, *enough.**

*We*re taking legal action today because the damage from non-native
species continues to mount and the shipping industry has failed to clean
up its act,* said Gary Botzek, executive director of the Minnesota
Conservation Federation. *For the millions of people who have seen
their beaches fouled, fish killed, and utility bills increase due to
invasive species, legal action cannot come soon enough.*

*We*re taking legal action now, because we*re losing the battle
against invasive species and it*s time to fight back,* said Larry
Mitchell, president of the League of Ohio Sportsmen and Ohio Wildlife
Federation. *We have solutions to stop invasive species from entering
our Great Lakes. It is now time to use them.*

"We're taking legal action now, because invasive species are a major
threat to Wisconsin's highly important fishery resources, both in the
Great Lakes and our thousands of inland lakes," said George Meyer,
executive director of the Wisconsin Wildlife Federation. "Ending
untreated ballast water discharges is critical to preserving fishing
opportunities for generations to come and to protect Wisconsin's
important tourist economy."

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