ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency has been sued for allegedly failing to take action to protect Lake Superior and other state waters from a deadly fish virus.
The lawsuit filed in Ramsey County District Court seeks to force the state to prohibit Great Lakes freighters from dumping untreated ballast water into Duluth Harbor and other ports.
The Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy claims in the lawsuit that ballast water contains fish wastes, fish reproductive materials and infected fish that can spread the virus - viral hemorrhagic septicemia - which kills fish by severe hemorrhaging. The virus has infected fish in all of the Great Lakes except Lake Superior and has killed large numbers of more than a dozen species, including such popular game fish as walleye, muskellunge, smallmouth bass, northern pike, yellow perch and black crappies.
The lawsuit contends that in addition to the Great Lakes, many of Minnesota's interior lakes and waters are also at risk. The MPCA said national regulations rather than separate state laws would be a more effective way to regulate ships' wastes. Commissioner Brad Moore said the agency is "doing essential research and analysis" on state rules in case federal authorities don't act.
"We acknowledge that there has to be a national or international solution eventually since ships are travelling all over," said Kevin Reuther, lawyer for the Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy. "But Minnesota needs to be a leader, not a follower, especially since Lake Superior isn't infested yet."