Zebra Mussel Infestation Spreads Beyond Great Lakes

the spread of a mussel infestation that had wreaked havoc in the Great Lakes.

The zebra mussel is spreading faster than had been anticipated. Once they have established colonies, it is virtually impossible to eliminate them, Carlos M. Fetterolf Jr., executive secretary of the Great Lakes Fishery Commission, said. Mr. Donahue said the zebra mussel infestation could result in control costs approaching $4 billion for the Great Lakes alone during the 1990s.

The mollusks, which attach themselves to underwater structures, pose a particular threat to water intake pipes for electric power plants, factories and municipal wat e r and wastewater t r e a t m e n t plants.

Also at risk are ships. Two Coast Guard vessels had to have emergency repair work this year after zebra mussels were found covering key parts of their cooling systems. The zebra mussel's ability to filter out microscopic plankton and algae endangers the food chain for the Great Lakes' $44 billion fishing industries, and it may now threaten fish habitat throughout the nation's river system.

The inch-long mussel, which was brought to the Great Lakes in the ballast water of oceangoing ships from Soviet ports in the mid-1980s, is transported to the inland river system of the Midwest and East Coast by barges and recreational boats.

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