HOUGHTON - With the definition of ranger being "one who patrols and/or protects," the M/V Ranger III has gone one step further in living up to its name.
Thursday, staff of Isle Royale National Park hosted a ceremony dedicating a new ballast water treatment system on the motor vessel. Installed in May, the Hyde Guardian HG60 system utilizes a combination of mechanical filtration and UV sterilization to remove or inactivate organisms in the ballast stream.
"The installation of the ballast treatment system on the Ranger III is a milestone in Great Lakes protection history," said Isle Royale National Park Superintendent Phyllis Green. "We are pleased to dedicate the first permanent ballast treatment installation on a freshwater ship in the Great Lakes."
Kelly Fosness/Daily Mining Gazette
Isle Royale National Park Superintendent Phyllis Green, third from left, recognizes the crew of the M/V Ranger III during a dedication ceremony marking the installation of the new ballast water treatment system at park headquarters in Houghton Thursday morning. The ceremony featured a number of guest speakers, including representatives from the offices of Sen. Carl Levin, Sen. Debbie Stabenow and Congressman Dan Benishek.
Thursday's ceremony included representatives from the offices of Congressman Dan Benishek, R-Crystal Falls; Senator Carl Levin, D-Detroit and Senator Debbie Stabenow, D-Lansing, who congratulated the park on its achievement. The crew of the Ranger III and significant parties in the ballast system installation were also recognized for the parts they played in the ballast system upgrade.
Included in the ceremony was Michigan Technological University Chair of Civil and Environmental Engineering Dr. David Hand, who helped to develop a previous system to stem the rapid spread through the Great Lakes of the fish pathogen viral hemorrhagic septicemia virus. The system used a low level of sodium hypochlorite as a biocide with ascorbic acid for neutralization prior to discharge in order to kill targeted species. Hand's system was installed on the Ranger III in the fall of 2007.
The new Hyde treatment system supercedes the previously installed system as it targets all species, is automated and does not use or generate any chemicals, Green said. Ballast water is treated during both uptake and discharge. During uptake, the ballast water is pumped through a 50-micron disc filter manifold. Organisms and particulates separated by the filter are back-flushed and returned overboard at the uptake source. Following filtration, the ballast water passes through a UV treatment chamber where the water is exposed to UV radiation emitted by a series of high intensity lamps. During discharge, the ballast water bypasses the disc filter manifold and passes through the UV treatment chamber only before being discharged overboard.
The system and its installation cost is $380,000, Green said. The park received $500,000 from the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, with the remaining funds put toward an engineering study to identify potential treatment systems available for small ships with design and operating characteristics similar to those of the Ranger III.
"That report should provide useful information for other small-ballast freshwater vessels, an overlooked group in terms of the ballast treatment market," Green said of the report, which can be found online at nps.gov/isro.
The cost of invasive species is significant, Green said.
"Ballast-introduced aquatic invasive species pose a tremendous threat to aquatic resources broadly and specifically at Isle Royale (National Park) and other (National Park Service) units," she said.
In 2008, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency reported 58 new AIS had the potential to significantly disrupt the Great Lakes system. Estimates for AIS species damages in the Great Lakes alone range from $200 million to $5.7 billion. The EPA also identified shipping, including ballast water, as the source of 65 percent of invasions from 1960 to 2006.
Species invasion through ballast water is largely misconstrued as a saltwater problem, Green said. However, freshwater ballast also poses a threat.
"The Ranger III crew minimizes the amount of ballast released through careful ballast management," she said. "However, ballast water intake and discharges are required at times for safe ship operations and therefore, treatment is required. Currently, there are invasive species found at the island that are not found in Houghton and vice versa, thus choosing a system to prevent transfers was critical."
Fraser Shipyard of Superior, Wis., aided in the installation planning, while Schwartz Boiler of Cheboygan, Mich., and Northern Machining and Repair, Inc. of Escanaba completed the installation. The Grand Portage Band of Lake Superior Chippewa acted as fiscal agent for the project, and the National Parks of Lake Superior Foundation sponsored the dedication ceremony.
For more information on the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, visit greatlakesrestoration.us.