Great Lakes News

Great Lakes News

S.S. Badger Continues Work to Improve Ash Discharge


The beloved old-style “bell boat” and last Great Lakes coal-fueled car ferry, the S.S. Badger, is undergoing some radical improvements. The 411-foot Badger, now in its 60th year of service, travels between Ludington, Michigan and Manitowoc, Wisconsin and has proven a vital link for Great Lakes tourists and trucked freight.

The Badger was almost shut down in 2012 by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). At that time, the ferry was burning 55 tons of coal per day that dumped a whopping 4 tons of coal ash into Lake Michigan, according to a recent report by the Chicago Tribune. EPA agreed to extend the boat’s permit, but only for two years, giving the Badger time to clean up its act.

In a consent decree signed October 2013, Lake Michigan Carferry Service promised to end the ash discharge by the 2015 season and, in the interim, use stoker coal, which produces less ash and has a lower mercury content.

Improvements on the Badger are already underway, according to the ferry’s social media sites. The ship released a report, published on EPA’s website, that maintains the former boiler fronts and all eight original stokers were removed, drawings were submitted for the replacement of the boiler fronts, and the electrical distribution system was upgraded. A descriptive photo timeline of all of the ferry’s improvements will eventually be featured on the S.S. Badger’s website.

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Photo by Mark Bauhs