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LUDINGTON, Mich. (Grand Rapids Business Journal) -- Lake Michigan Carferry Inc., owners of the S.S. Badger in Ludington, have announced that installation of the first phase of a new combustion control technology will be completed before the start of the 2014 sailing season May 16.

The work is part of what the company calls a new "multimillion-dollar ash retention system" being installed aboard the Badger in compliance with an EPA consent decree that prohibits the historic vessel from dumping any more of its coal ash overboard after the conclusion of the 2014 season.

The 410-foot Badger, which has been crossing Lake Michigan from Ludington to Wisconsin ports since 1953, is the last coal-fired, steam-powered commercial vessel on the Great Lakes. It is the largest carferry ever to operate on the Great Lakes, with a capacity of 600 passengers and up to 180 vehicles, including semi-trucks, automobiles, tour buses, RVs, motorcycles and commercial trucks. Originally it also carried railroad freight cars.

Since 2008, the EPA has been pressuring Lake Michigan Carferry to stop dumping the Badger coal ash overboard in Lake Michigan.

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