Dear United States Coast Guard:
Alliance for the Great Lakes, Great Lakes United, Lake Ontario Waterkeeper, and the National Wildlife Federation, in consultation with the Conservation Law Center, Inc., respectfully submit these comments in response to the Draft Environmental Impact Statement: U.S. Coast Guard Rulemaking for Dry Cargo Residue Discharges in the Great Lakes and Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, USCG-2004-19621 ("Draft EIS"). A shared priority of our four groups is to ensure that commercial navigation practices in the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River do not have a deleterious impact on the basin freshwater ecosystem and dependant communities and economies.
Over twenty years ago the United States Coast Guard ("USCG") proposed regulations to implement Annex V of the "International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships" which set international criteria for garbage dumping as being permitted only in the ocean, at least 12 nautical miles offshore. The enabling U.S. legislation, the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships, effectively prohibited dry cargo sweeping in the inland Grea Lakes. The USCG and Great Lakes carriers negotiated an Interim Enforcement Policy ("IEP") in 1993 designed to allow carriers to continue sweeping dry cargo, with restrictions, in the Great Lakes.
In "A Study of Incidental Dry Cargo Residue Discharges in the Great Lakes", the USCG estimates that approximately 653,000 lbs of iron ore, 228,000 lbs of limestone and 219,000 lbs of coal were discharged in the Great Lakes during the 2004-2005 shipping season by U.S. flag vessels alone. The study also states that the practice of dry cargo sweeping has occurred for at least 75 years.
Our groups oppose the Coast Guard's proposed rulemaking that allows the discharge of bulk dry cargo residues in the Great Lakes, St. Lawrence River basin, and all inland navigable waterways. Our position and combined comments, detailed below, are based on the principles that: 1) under international and domestic law, the dumping of garbage in any of the internal waterways of the United States is prohibited; 2) dry cargo residue is "garbage" as defined in domestic and international law and is thus prohibited in the Great Lakes; and 3) the environmental impacts in the draft Environmental Impact Study are not adequately studied. Therefore, we recommend that the Coast Guard allow the current Interim Enforcement Policy to expire and enforce against future cargo dumping to protect the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River ecosystem.
Click here to read the entire comment submitted by Alliance for the Great Lakes, Great Lakes United, Lake Ontario Waterkeeper, and the National Wildlife Federation.
Click here to read the News Release.