Threat Level: Code Red, Severe Risk of Terrorist Attack

Tomorrow the St. Lawrence Seaway will open up for the new season and with it a dangerous threat – Russian born terrorists are poised to take advantage of the event to attack the United States under the watch of President Bush. Where is homeland security when you need it?

The terrorists in question are, of course, aquatic invasive species. The opening of the seaway marks the 20th anniversary of the discovery of the non-native mussel.

The pint-sized terrorists that hale from the Caspian Sea and stow away in the stabilizing ballast water of transatlantic ships first invaded our freshwater shores in the 1988. Since then they have been sending waves of reinforcements every year spreading throughout the Great Lakes and into the Illinois and Mississippi Rivers then to lakes and tributaries in Pennsylvania, Arkansas, Missouri and Oklahoma. Everywhere it goes, the zebra mussel devastates the native biodiversity, fouls boat engines, water intakes, dams and power plants. In the most recent attacks, it has employed a biological weapon upon our bird population killing off acres of fowl with a paralyzing botulism.

Ohio Sen. George Voinovich (R) has denounced the invasive species as a “terrorist from abroad” and describes the epic fight to end their scourge as the “second battle of Lake Erie.”

Since the St. Lawrence Seaway opened almost fifty years ago, ballast water discharge from ocean-going vessels is the No. 1 way in which aquatic invasive species enter the Great Lakes. To date, 185 invasive species have made a home in the Great Lakes costing us $5 billion a year. The zebra mussel alone costs regional industry $150 million a year – they have even been blamed for shutting down the Detroit Edison Plant. They came quietly, under the cover of darkness and they multiplied to biblical proportions. But this is one terrorist that John McCain won’t have to follow to the gates of Hell – we know where it is and how it travels – we just need to stop it once and for all.

Federal legislation is pending that would create a national treatment standard for ballast water. Michigan, tired of waiting and paying big annual bills to deal with problems caused by invasive species, passed its own ballast law that went into effect last year. Wisconsin has recently taken steps to become the second Great Lakes state to regulate ballast water, and Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland supports a similar move. Absent Congressional leadership the states intend to create a rogue ballast regulation system – the only barrier to hold off the zebra mussel’s reinforcements.

Congress should move to pass strong legislation, and do it quickly – the St. Lawrence is opening up again allowing yet another attack upon our water’s sovereignty. This is a black and white issue – as black and white as totalitarianism versus freedom, communist versus democrat – the zebra mussel and its allies (invasive species) are evil and must be stopped. It is time to don our white hats and be the good guys and save our nation’s most precious resource from a real enemy combatant.

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One Response to Threat Level: Code Red, Severe Risk of Terrorist Attack

  1. Don Mitchel says:

    Dear Sirs, Until the public becomes aware of the enormous threat, that ballast systems provide for terrorist, or foreign sea captains, who do not like our country, to use ships flying under foreign flags with foreign crewmen, to contaminate and pollute our waters the federal government will not act on this problem. Unfortunately until we demand protection by exposing this threat, lobbyist will push the senate to continue to consider it a states rights issue, which, for industry will create a myriad of conflicting regulation that are impossible to enforce. The EPA is not going to be able to enforce regulations without the cooperation of the Coast Guard who are less than enthusiastic about enforcing a complicated collection of conflicting state laws. This approach has served industry well for decades. Unfortunately virus and invasive s in water do not recognize the lines man has drawn on maps. Anyone who has worked in industry knows that log books and record keeping, constitute only paperwork, which will not prove procedures have been followed. Without the Coast Guard willing to take this on as a national security issue, with monitoring and, one national policy, the lobbyist for industry know the cost to follow procedures correctly will in reality, never have to be incurred. The mentality that international sea captains can be trusted is reflective of the 1800’s when seafaring nations were the strongest force in the world, not the venerable reality of 2001. All one has to do is look who the partners in the IMO to understand the need for military involvement.(China, Iran) If foreign companies do not care what is in children’s food or toys, we can not trust foreign companies to follow procedures or even make sure the equipment is working properly, when trying to protect our waters. In the airline industry terrorist are called hijackers. We need to realize in the shipping industry terrorist can be called pirates. It is time for those who care, to tell our law makers to do the right thing for the national security of our country as a whole. I believe Senator Boxer from California held it up this time. In NY State the transportation of water from thousands of miles away used in transporting bait fish is not regulated or monitored regardless of chemicals used in transport or water changes made in transport outside state jurisdiction. These waters with fish are often dumped right into NY waters without regulation. It is no wonder when inquiring to the NY states governor about federal legislation H.R.2830, I was sent a letter about the state wanting their own ballast regulations.
    Don Mitchel

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