An emerging fish disease known as viral hemorrhagic septicemia, or VHS, has prompted a proposed ban on the use of ballast water in the Great Lakes. Chuck Quirmbach reports the proposed ban is leading to predictions of economic disruption:
An emerging fish disease known as viral hemorrhagic septicemia, or VHS, has prompted a proposed ban on the use of ballast water in the Great Lakes. The proposed ban is leading to predictions of economic disruption. Chuck Quirmbach reports:
The US Government has put temporary limits on the shipments of live fish from the great lakes states. That’s because of a virus in some great lakes waters that is fatal to fish. The state of Michigan says a better way to prevent that virus from spreading is to ban freshwater ships from taking in ballast water from the lakes that are contaminated.
Jim Weakley is president of the Lake Carriers Association. He says ships couldn’t operate if they couldn’t take on ballast.
“You’re talking about shutting down the movement of iron ore, coal, limestone, cement, salt; all the products we move that keep the manufacturing basis of this area moving.”
Environmental groups support the proposed ban on ballast water intake, saying ballast transfers move around a lot of unwanted species.
Every year freighters wash two hundred million pounds of refuse into the Great Lakes leaving the equivalent of underwater gravel roads along shipping lanes. The practice is called “cargo sweeping” and it’s allowed in spite of U.S laws and an international treaty banning dumping in the lakes. The GLRC’s Charity Nebbe has more:
Every year freighters wash two hundred million pounds of refuse into the
Great Lakes leaving the equivalent of underwater gravel roads along
shipping lanes. The practice is called “cargo sweeping” and it’s allowed
in spite of U.S. laws and an international treaty banning dumping in the
lakes. The GLRC’s Charity Nebbe has more:
The dumping occurs when cargo ships pump water over the deck and
through loading tubes to wash away any refuse that has collected from
the loading and unloading process. Industry insiders say the practice is
necessary to protect the safety of the crew and the integrity of the cargo.
James Weakley is President of the Lake Carriers’ Association.
“I’m very confident that what we’re putting over the side are naturally
occurring substances… and we’ve been doing this practice for hundreds
of years and as yet we haven’t seen an environmental harm.”
Critics are concerned about toxins that might be carried in the coal, iron
ore, and slag jettisoned by the ships, and they’re concerned about the
habitat that might be buried under the refuse.
This year the U.S. Coast Guard is reviewing the 1993 interim policy that
allows cargo sweeping, but as of yet no scientific study has been
Water levels on the Great Lakes have come up this summer… thanks to the wet conditions. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Mike Simonson has more:
Water levels on the Great Lakes have come up this summer… thanks to the wet conditions. The
Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Mike Simonson has more:
Higher water levels have been good for the shipping industry. Lake cargo is up 20 percent this
year. Glenn Neckvasil is with the Lake Carriers Association in Cleveland. He says a wet
summer has brought water levels closer to normal. Because of that, ships are able to carry a lot
“We did a little study here in July. Some of the thousand footers are carrying 2800 tons more per
trip. Some of the smaller ships are carrying as much as 1400 more tons per trip. So obviously,
this is a big boost to the efficiency of the industry.”
Neckvasil says water levels are just a fact of life… a cyclical thing.
Lakes Superior and Erie’s levels are up from last summer and close to the normal historic level.
Lake Ontario is above normal. Lakes Huron and Michigan are up a foot from last year, but still
about a foot below normal levels.
For the Great Lakes Radio Consortium, I’m Mike Simonson.
A rare extension of the shipping season through the Soo Locks at Sault Saint Marie, Michigan is encountering the challenges of nature… but ships continue to plow their way from Lake Superior ports to the lower Great Lakes. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Mike Simonson has more:
A rare extension of the shipping season through the Soo Locks at Sault Saint Marie,
Michigan is encountering the challenges of nature, but ships continue to plow their
way from Lake Superior ports to the lower Great Lakes. Mike Simonson reports for
the Great Lakes Radio Consortium:
An unusually high demand for domestic iron ore from northern Minnesota and
western coal from Montana and Wyoming caused the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers
to keep the Soo Locks open an extra ten days. Weather permitting, they’ll try to
keep the locks open until January 25th.
Glen Nekvasil is with the Lake Carrier’s Association in Cleveland. He says this
won’t become an annual extension.
“This is a one-time request. The steel industry had a late surge in 2003, especially
seeing the tariffs on imports are gone, we just could not take a chance on letting that
momentum slip away because 2004 is a whole new ballpark for them. We got to start
out with every advantage we can.”
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Michigan Department of Environmental
Quality all had to agree to the extension, since they say plowing ice flows can cause
For the Great Lakes Radio Consortium, I’m Mike Simonson.
Steel has once again become a big issue in U.S. trade policy. Many steel companies around the Midwest are worried about ‘steel dumping’ and are urging President Bush to support new tariffs and quotas on imported steel. But some steel users say the Bush Administration should back off. How the President handles the issue could affect both jobs and the environment in the region. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Chuck Quirmbach reports:
Steel has once again become a big issue in United States trade policy. Many steel companies around the Midwest are worried about steel dumping and are urging President Bush to support new tariffs and quotas on imported steel. But some steel users say the Bush administration should back off. How the president handles the issue could affect both jobs and the environment in the Great Lakes region. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Chuck Quirmbach reports.
The amount of commonly used types of foreign steel coming into the United States has risen about a third over the last five years, and a federal trade panel ruled recently that much of that imported steel is being sold here at a price lower than what it cost to make it and ship it here. That’s a practice called dumping. The trade panel found that such dumping poses a serious threat to domestic steel makers. So the panel says President Bush should slap tariffs on many product lines of foreign-made steel to raise the prices of the imports. But that’s not such a hot idea to some other industries, which use plenty of foreign steel.
(furnace/factory ambient sound)
Here at the Engel Tool and Forge Company in Milwaukee…this second-generation family business now uses about 600 tons a year of steel imported from countries like Brazil and Sweden. In the warm and grimy forging area, workers use a robot to move five foot long steel bars that have been heated to 2100 degrees Fahrenheit. Owner chuck Engel watches the orange and white-hot bars enter a machine
“That’s a preforming press …a hydraulic press that preforms the metal. It’s removed from there and moved into a finished form that we gain our finished desired shape.” (WHAM noise)
The bars are scrunched into wheel axles that’ll be shipped to heavy equipment makers in the mining or construction industries. Engel says his company is doing all right during the recession. So he’s says he strongly opposed to the president possibly tinkering with that success by slapping higher tariffs on imported steel.
“I am sure there is a certain amount of unfairness on both sides of the fence but I believe that competition should be what sorts this problem out rather than the government.”
Engel contends domestic steel makers got quote- fat and sassy — over the last twenty years…and he says mergers, downsizing and other changes now taking place among domestic manufacturers will help them compete in the world steel market. Engel says if steel tariffs do go up…he’d have to pass along the price hikes. But other players are urging President Bush to approve higher steel tariffs. The United Steelworkers of America hopes the president even goes beyond what the trade panel recommends. Some environmentalists are also quietly supporting the domestic steel industry. That’s even though green groups have a track record of battling steel manufacturers. Cameron Davis of the Chicago-based lake Michigan federation acknowledges big steel has a dirty history in the area.
“Well traditionally, the steel industry especially in northwest Indiana has been responsible for a fair amount of pollution in the Great Lakes…and that’s air-based pollution, water based pollution, land based pollution across the board.”
But lately environmentalists have been trying to forge alliances with unions like the steelworkers. And Davis notes that environmental lawsuits and other changes have gotten domestic steel makers to start cleaning up their act in recent years. He says if nothing is done to slow the rise in steel imports that could make the United States environment worse. Davis cites the aquatic nuisance species that tag along in the ballast water of foreign ships…including presumably, the ships that bring in foreign steel.
“Without some help in protecting the GL steel industry, we’ll see more and more foreign steel coming into the country. And with that foreign steel probably more aquatic nuisance species that will do more damage not only to the Great Lakes but to rest of country.”
United States flagged Great Lakes shipping companies that haul iron ore from Minnesota and northern Michigan are also siding with the domestic steel makers. George Ryan is president of the Lake Carriers Association. He says if the domestic steel industry keeps getting hurt by foreign imports…there might be some local improvements like less air pollution emitted over Gary or Cleveland, but Ryan says, what about the rest of the globe.
“For anyone who has seen photographs from outer space, we have one world that moves the air around to all parts of the world we can’t really say we condone dirty air in Brazil and in China and okay to do it there cause we’re protecting our air in the United States.”
Ryan is a member of the Great Lakes Commission…which is urging the president and congress to boost steel exports and reduce unfair competition from abroad. Commissioners do the bidding of eight Great Lakes governors…most of whom are republicans like George W. Bush. If the president does not do more to protect United States steel makers and jobs that could be an issue in the gubernatorial and congressional elections next November. Mr. Bush has to announce his plans on steel tariffs and quotas by mid-February. For the Great Lakes Radio Consortium this is Chuck Quirmbach in Milwaukee.