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Top U.S. Seaway officials to discuss ballast treatment at environmental conference in Clayton


Top officials with the U.S. St. Lawrence Seaway Development Corp. will shed light on one of biggest threats the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River’s ecosystem faces — the spread of invasive species via ballast water — at the 2014 Winter Environmental Conference in Clayton on Saturday.

As opening speakers, U.S. Seaway Administrator Betty S. Sutton and her deputy, Craig H. Middlebrook, plan to discuss the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s latest regulations covering the treatment of ballast discharges during their presentation about the shipping channel’s economic impact and its ongoing effort to be more “environmentally friendly.”

The annual event hosted by Save the River will be held from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Clayton Opera House, 405 Riverside Drive. Registration costs $40 per person and includes coffee, lunch and a cocktail reception with light hor d’oeuvres by Bella’s, Clayton.

To maintain stability during transit, ocean vessels store water in their ballast tanks, sometimes bringing with it unwanted “hitchhikers” such as zebra mussels and round gobies.

Often, the introduction of such invasive species leads to a decline in biodiversity by choking out the native wildlife, negatively affecting an ecosystem’s biological health.

Under the EPA’s latest Vessel General Permit rules, commercial vessels greater than 79 feet in length are required to install water purification systems to kill harmful organisms before releasing ballast water into U.S. waterways.

Also at Saturday’s conference, Maude Barlow, national chairwoman of the Council of Canadians and founder of the Blue Planet Project, will give the keynote presentation, “The Great River Needs Great Friends; Protecting the St. Lawrence Forever.”

She will also sign copies of her latest book, Blue Future.

Every year, the Clayton-based nonprofit has invited environmental experts, activists, lawmakers and educators to its winter conference to discuss issues and policies affecting the Lake Ontario-St. Lawrence River ecosystem.

For more information or to register for the event, call Save the River at 686-2010. For the full conference agenda, visit

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