One of Lake Michigan’s oldest steamers has a little something new under the hood.
As the S.S. Badger (pictured) set sail for Manitowoc last month from its home port of Ludington, Mich., the venerable car ferry sported a sophisticated combustion control system installed this past winter to reduce the coal ash discharged into the lake. The second phase of the multi-million-dollar ash retention system – scheduled to be installed after the 2014 sailing season – will completely eliminate the discharge of coal ash into the lake in compliance with an agreement reached between Lake Michigan Carferry and the Environmental Protection Agency.
“She is the last coal-fired steamer on the Great Lakes and this will preserve her historical significance,” says Terri Brown, director of media relations for LMC.
In service since 1953, the Badger is on the National Register of Historic Places, and its propulsion system was designated a mechanical engineering landmark by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers.
Federal regulators sought to end the dumping of coal ash by the Badger, saying it contained mercury in excess of that allowed under federal regulations. While denying it ever exceeded federal pollution standards, LMC reached an agreement last spring with federal regulators requiring the ferry to end the discharge of coal ash by 2015.
The S.S. Badger is the largest car ferry ever to sail Lake Michigan. During the navigation season, the ship sails daily between Ludington and Manitowoc. A one-way cruise across the lake takes four hours. Shown is the ferry docking in Manitowoc during the 2013 sailing season before carrying cars and passengers across Lake Michigan to Ludington, Mich.