EPA releases plan to regulate ship ballast water

November 30, 2011 - 5:10 PM

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (AP) — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has released a proposal to strengthen regulation of ballast water discharged by commercial ships, a leading pathway for invasive species to reach U.S. waters.

The EPA said Wednesday it was releasing a draft permit with standards similar to those proposed by the International Maritime Organization in 2004. Those standards require shippers to install technology limiting the number of live organisms in ballast tanks, which store water to help keep a ship upright in rolling seas.

Shipping industry groups say those limits as achievable, while environmental groups contend they're inadequate to protect U.S. waters from exotic species such as zebra and quagga mussels, which have infested the Great Lakes and other waterways.

EPA will take public comment and issue a final plan in November 2012.