Oswego Council Supports Opposition To ‘Unachievable’ Regulations

OSWEGO, NY – At this week’s Common Council meeting, councilors expressed support of the Common Council of St. Catherines, Canada, in regard to proposed NYS ballast water regulations and the possible adverse effects on the Great Lakes.

Recently, Oswego Mayor Tom Gillen received a correspondence from Rick Dykstra, parliamentary secretary for citizenship and immigration, of St. Catharines, Canada, with regard to proposed ballast water regulations and the possible adverse effect on the Port of Oswego Authority – and elsewhere.

“While we recognize the legitimate environmental concerns, no new invasive species have come in through ballast water since 2006 when the current regime was put in place,” Dykstra said.

Furthermore, the economic impact in terms of job losses would be severe for small to medium size ports like St. Catharines and Oswego when ships are no longer allowed to pass through New York waters to satisfy a standard that cannot be met and cannot even be measured, he added.

The proposed standards are impossible to meet and there is no technology currently in place anywhere that could even attempt to comply with the requirement, Gillen pointed out.

“So it’s almost Bizarro World they’re talking about,” he said at the previous week’s committee meeting.

There are billions of dollars at stake here as this has the potential to shut down the St. Lawrence Seaway, he added.

He urged the council to approve a resolution in support of St. Catherines.

In January, the St. Catharines city council unanimously passed a resolution opposing New York’s “unachievable” incoming ballast water regulations and urged the American and Canadian governments to take all possible measures to stop them from being implemented as proposed.

New York State regulators will in one year’s time be enforcing stringent new ballast water treatment standards for ships transiting through its waters in the St. Lawrence Seaway that scientists say are currently technologically unachievable.

A recent study carried out by transportation consultants Martin Associates showed that enforcing these regulations on ships transiting the St. Lawrence Seaway could impact 72,000 jobs and $10.7 billion of economic activity in Canada and the U.S.

Canada would be the most severely affected with the potential loss of 55,000 of those jobs and $8.5 billion of those business revenues in Ontario and Quebec.

Despite the Great Lakes-Seaway having the most stringent regulations in the world to prevent introductions of invasive species and no new species having been discovered due to ballast water since 2006, New York State’s regulations will require all ships transiting its waters to install treatment equipment to sterilize its ballast water to a standard that is 100 to 1,000 times greater than international standards.

Scientists working for the U.S. government and the State of Wisconsin have both concluded that no technology currently exists to achieve this standard.

As all ships must sail through New York waters to pass though the St. Lawrence Seaway to the Great Lakes, the regulations would effectively choke off all trade through the St. Lawrence Seaway.

Jonathon Daniels, executive director of the Port of Oswego Authority, has said the regulations would pretty much shut down the port and cripple much of the economy in Central New York.

Dykstra said, “It is imperative that all of us work together to ensure the economic viability of the St. Lawrence Seaway is not compromised by these proposed regulations.”