BALLAST WATER TREATMENT
MES supports shipowners and operators in selecting the best ballast water treatment system technology for a specific vessel. Based on our 3D high-Resolution laserscan of the engine-room, we will propose the most suitable location and produce all required engineering drawings including plan approval and electrical & automation. Additionally, we offer the complete turnkey installation of the selected treatment System –independent of any brand or maker.
Ballast water is absolutely essential to the safe and efficient operation of modern shipping, providing balance and stability to unladen ships. However, it may also pose a serious ecological, economic and health threat due to the transfer of harmful organisms and pathogens in ships’ ballast water tanks. When all factors are favourable, the transferred species may survive to establish a reproductive population in the host environment and may even become invasive out-competing native species and multiplying into pest proportions. The development of larger and faster ships completing their voyages in ever shorter times, combined with rapidly increasing international trade, meant that the natural barriers to the dispersal of species across the oceans were being reduced. The global economic impacts of invasive aquatic species have not been thoroughly quantified but are likely to be in the region of tens of billions of US dollars per year or more. Human health impacts can also be caused by the transfer and spread of pathogens and toxic organisms such as harmful algae in ships’ ballast water.
During the last two decades, IMO has been working constantly to address, meet and respond to the challenges associated with ballast water management culminating in 2004 with the adoption of the International Convention for the Control and Management of Ships’ Ballast Water and Sediments. This far-reaching international treaty aims to prevent, minimize and ultimately eliminate the risks to the environment, human health, property and resources arising from the transfer of harmful aquatic organisms in ships’ ballast water and is centred on the precautionary approach principle, giving due consideration to the environmental benefits, technological achievability and, most importantly, to global standardization. As of July 2011, the BWM Convention has been ratified by only 28 countries representing nearly 27% of the world’s merchant shipping capacity. Finally, on 8 September 2016, the convention was ratified.
Implementation of the IMO BWM convention
The BWM Convention entered into force on 8 September 2017 – one year after ratification. The convention stipulates two standards for discharged ballast water. The D-1 standard covers ballast water exchange while the D-2 standard covers ballast water treatment. The convention requires either D-1 or D-2 standard after entry into force. However, on July 7, 2017, the MEPC at its 71st meeting, reached a compromise on compliance dates for ballast water discharge. Ships constructed after 8th September 2017 must comply on delivery, while existing ships in general must comply by the first IOPP renewal after 8th September 2019. The long-awaited agreement will have global impact. It provides certainty to the maritime community regarding the mandatory compliance dates for treatment of ballast water discharge.
For ship owners and operators, ratification of the convention means that they must have an International BWM Certificate upon entry into force, at the latest. To obtain the certificate, a vessel must have a BWM Plan addressing procedures for BW exchange, BW treatment or both. If a BWM System is installed, then approved technical documentation for the BW treatment system installation must be available on board. Lastly, a Ballast Water record book is required, and the vessel must employ the chosen ballast water management method from the date that the convention enters into force.
All ships calling at US ports and intending to discharge ballast water must either carry out ballast water exchange or treatment, in addition to fouling and sediment management. US legislation requires the ballast water treatment system (BWTS) to be type- approved by the USCG. The USCG Standards for Living Organisms in Ships’ Ballast Water Discharged in U.S. Waters (June 2012) identifies the following BWM options:
- No ballast water discharge
- Use a USCG type approved BWMS
- Discharge to a facility onshore or another vessel for purposes of treatment
- Use only water from a U.S. public water system
Temporary compliance options include:
- Perform a complete ballast water exchange (BWE) up to the date required to be in compliance with ballast water discharge standards
- Use an alternate management system (AMS) for no longer than 5 years from the date required to be in compliance with BWDS
The USCG will inspect BWMS as part its normal port state control (PSC) inspections and domestic vessel inspections. The revised US Coast Guard (USCG) regulations on ballast water management entered into force 21 June 2012. The regulations require compliance with the treatment standard at the first scheduled dry-docking after 1st January 2016 for sailing ships, and at delivery for new buildings. However, since there are currently no BWTS available holding a USCG Type Approval Certificate, ship owners can apply for an extension. Vessels can receive an extension of 5 years by employing an Alternative Management System (AMS), normally an IMO-type approved system which has received an AMS approval from USCG. Another option to comply with the regulations is to use potable water (from the US public water system). In such cases the ballast tanks need to be cleaned and sediments removed beforehand.