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New ballast treatment could protect Great Lakes fish
Date:6/4/2008

A Michigan Technological University professor has developed a new water treatment that could help keep a deadly fish disease out of Lake Superior.

David Hand, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at Michigan Tech, has devised a simple way to treat ballast water in vessels ranging from pleasure craft to ore boats. His method is designed to kill the virus that causes viral hemorrhagic septicemia (VHS), an often-fatal disease that has been attacking fish populations in the lower Great Lakes.

Hand's treatment is simple.

The ballast water is disinfected with sodium hypochloriteordinary household bleach. Then it is treated with ascorbic acid, or vitamin C, which neutralizes the bleach before the water is released into the lake.

With good initial results, Hand has tested his method on the Ranger III, a National Park Service vessel that shuttles visitors and staff between the mainland and Isle Royale National Park.

In the next few weeks, the Great Ships Initiative will conduct independent lab tests on his system at the University of WisconsinSuperior to help determine if it is safe, effective and inexpensive. Other partners in the effort are the National Park Service and the US Fish and Wildlife Service.

"VHS has had a devastating effect on the musky population in Lake St. Clair and affects 23 species of game fish," said Phyllis Green, superintendent of Isle Royale National Park and the midwest coordinator of the park service's VHS Prevention Team. "It's important that we keep it out of the Lake Superior basin or at least slow its spread. Our aim is to find a low-tech, low-cost, interim solution that can stop the spread of VHS."

Since 2003, VHS it has caused massive dieoffs of fish species ranging from walleyes to salmon in all of the Great Lakes except Superior. Infected fish die from bleeding of their internal organs and often have open sores and bruised-looking, reddish tints on their skin.


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Contact: Jennifer Donovan
jdonovan@mtu.edu
906-487-4521
Michigan Technological University
Source:Eurekalert

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