What is Ballast water :-
Ballast water carried in ships, ballast tanks to improve stability, balance and trim. It is taken up or discharged when cargo is unloaded or loaded, or when a ship needs extra stability in foul weather. When ships take on ballast water, plants and animals that live in the ocean are also picked up. Discharging this ballast water releases these organisms into new areas where they can become marine pests.
What is IMO (International Maritime Organisation)?
The International maritime organisation is playing a very crucial role in the modern society’s progress towards a better and healthy commercial and transportation environment. The IMO was established in 1948 in Geneva, it was not enforced until 1959 at a meeting held at London, its headquarters. The main mission and responsibility of the International maritime organisation,is to develop and preserve a comprehensive framework of regulations and policies for the shipping industry and its activities like maritime security, safety, technical co-operation, environmental concerns and legal matters.IMO has been successfully disposing this task since its inception with the specialised committees and sub committees at the headquarters. The sessions of these committees are attended by numerous delegates and experts from the member countries and also by non-governmental and intergovernmental organisations.
Why the regulation need for Ballast Water Management :-
The problem arises when a vessel’s ballast water contains marine life. The transfer of invasive marine species into new environments via ships’ ballast water has been identified as a significant environmental threat.
The spread of marine life is normally controlled by natural barriers such as temperature and land masses but widespread use of water as ballast, development of larger and faster ships and rapidly increasing world trade means these natural barriers are increasingly being by-passed.
Examples of invasive species that have caused ecological damage and disruption include European Zebra Mussels, Red Tides (Algal Bloom), Asian Kelp and the North American Jellyfish.
Technologies used in Ballast Water Management
The technologies used for treating ballast water are generally derived from municipal and other industrial applications. However, their use is constrained by key factors such as space, cost and efficacy. There are two generic types of process technology used in ballast water treatment.
• Solid – liquid separation
Solid-liquid separation is simply the separation of suspended solid material, including the larger suspended micro-organisms, from the ballast water, either by sedimentation (allowing the solids to settle out by virtue of their own weight) or by surface filtration (removal by straining; i.e. by virtue of the pores in the filtering material being smaller than the size of the particle or organism). All solid-liquid separation processes produce a waste stream containing the suspended solids. This waste stream comprises the backwash water from filtering operations or the underflow from hydro cyclone separation. These waste streams require appropriate management and during ballasting they can be safely discharged at the point where they were taken up. On ballasting, the solid-liquid separation operation is generally bypassed. Disinfection removes and/or inactivates microorganisms using one or more of the following methods:
Chemical inactivation of the micro-organisms through either:
Oxidising biocides – general disinfectants which act by destroying organic structures, such as cell membranes or nucleic acids; or
Non – oxidising biocides – these interfere with reproductive, neural, or metabolic functions of the organisms. Physic chemical inactivation of the micro-organisms through processes such as UV light, heat or cavitation Asphyxiation of the micro-organisms through the oxygenation. All of these disinfection methods have been applied to ballast water treatment, with different products employing different unit processes. Most commercial systems comprise two or more stages of treatment with a solid-liquid separation stage being followed by disinfection.
Chemical inactivation of the micro-organisms through either: oxidising biocides – general disinfectants which act by destroying organic structures, such as cell membranes or nucleic acids; or Non-oxidising biocides – these interfere with reproductive, neural, or metabolic functions of the organisms. Physic chemical inactivation of the micro-organisms through processes such as UV light, heat or cavitation Asphyxiation of the micro-organisms through the oxygenation. All of these disinfection methods have been applied to ballast water treatment, with different products employing different unit processes. Most commercial systems comprise two or more stages of treatment with a solid-liquid separation stage being followed by disinfection.
While disinfection by-products are an issue, and central to the approval of ballast water management systems that make use of active substances, suppliers are confident that the levels generated are unlikely to be problematic. There is a large amount of scientific and technical information on the formation of disinfection by-products that is likely to support this. Where chemicals are used as part of the treatment process, they are typically provided as concentrated solids or liquids, so that they may be easily stored on board a ship.
Which rules apply?
A ship may be subject to a number of different legislation relating to ballast water management depending on location. They can be broadly categorised as follows:
– International: The International Convention for the Control and Management of Ships’ Ballast Water and Sediments – more commonly known as the Ballast Water Management (BWM) Convention – was adopted by IMO in 2004. It requires all ships of 400 GT and above trading internationally to manage their ballast water and sediments to certain standards and maintain a ship-specific ballast water management plan. It will enter into force on 8 September 2017, with a delayed implementation of the requirement to fit treatment systems to existing vessels until 2019.
– United States: Two separate laws passed by Congress give authority to regulate ballast water management to two separate federal government agencies. These are the Coast Guard (USCG) and the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The regulations have been in effect for several years, but bear in mind that individual US states may adopt more stringent legislation that is above and beyond federal regulations.
– National/Domestic: Different countries or geographical regions may have adopted particular requirements or restrictions on ballast water discharge.
How does this affect the shipowner?
1. Choosing and installing the right ballast water treatment plant.
2. Ensuring the crew are trained and familiar in the operation and maintenance of the ballast water treatment plant.
3. Establishing, implementing and maintaining a ballast water management plan.
4. Making sure the crew understand the relevant legislation’s and how to comply with them.
5. Having a contingency plan in the event of equipment failure.
6. Potential penalties following a violation or non-compliance.
What does a shipowner need to do and when?
To comply with the convention when it enters force in September 2017, a vessel will require an International Ballast Water Management Certificate. In order to obtain this, a vessel must have:
– An approved ballast water management plan that provides details on how compliance will be achieved with the necessary procedures.
– Technical documentation on the ballast water treatment system.
– A ballast water record book. This must remain on board the ship for at least of two years after the last entry has been made and following that held by the shipowner for at least three years.
A vessel will undergo an initial survey and the certificate should be valid for five years subject to annual surveys and an intermediate survey in the second or third year.
There are two performance standards: D-1 which is based on ballast water exchange, and D-2 which addresses ballast water treatment systems. The D2 standard specifies the levels of viable organisms that are allowed to remain in the water after treatment.
Following the entry into force in 2017, vessels whose keels are laid on or after the 18 September 2017 must comply with the D-2 standard. However, a period of transition will exist which allows existing vessels using the D-1 method ballast water exchange as the method of compliance to continue this way. At time of ratification, existing vessels had up until the next IOPP (International Oil Pollution Prevention Certificate) renewal survey to comply. After this IOPP renewal survey, the vessel must meet the discharge standard D-2 by using a type approved treatment plant. But a proposal to delay the requirements for fitting these treatment systems on existing vessels until 2019 was accepted at MEPC 71.
What are the penalties for non-compliance?
The IMO BWM Convention states in Article 8 that a vessel violating the convention could be subject to action by both the Flag State and the country in which it took place. Penalties and sanctions will therefore be determined by the relevant jurisdiction. In the United States, federal penalties are addressed in 33 CFR Part 151 (Sub part D) and states that a person who violates is liable for a civil penalty not to exceed $35,000. Each day of a continuing violation constitutes a separate violation. Also, any persons who knowingly violate the regulations are guilty of a class C felony. A vessel could very well be subject to additional penalties imposed by the US State in which the violation occurred.
What are the challenges ?
With the IMO BWM Convention entering force in 2017 and the limited number of currently available treatment systems to achieve USCG type approval, shipowners have a very difficult decision to make. There is a serious risk that when selecting and installing an IMO compliant system it might not gain type approval by the USCG.
Furthermore, it was decided at MEPC 70 that the IMO G8 guidelines on the design, construction, and evaluation process for type approval of ballast water management systems would be revised. The rationale behind this revision is that there are concerns the existing guidelines are not robust enough to ensure performance standards are met when the systems are in on board service. The benefit of this is that the revised G8 guidelines will be more aligned with the USCG process. But the downside is that the new guidelines are not expected until October 2018. As such, vessels subject to IMO compliance before this date might be forced to fit systems that only satisfy the original G8 criteria.
There is a significant difference in discharge standards between the IMO and US. Despite the numerical values of the organisms in the IMO and USCG discharge standards being the same, the USCG regulation states that the organisms must be dead. But IMO refers to “viable” organisms which relates to their ability to reproduce. Until recently, there had been concerns that the USCG would not approve UV treatment systems, even those with existing IMO D-2 approval. However the recent USCG type approval of the Optimarin system which uses UV technology might ease these concerns. It appears that UV systems will be considered by the USCG but the treatment must ‘kill’ the organisms. But this does require significantly more power than what is needed to render the organism unable to reproduce.
In the United States, there is also some confusion on the different approaches of the USCG and the EPA. Under the VGP regulations, EPA does not require vessels to have a USCG approved ballast water management system. Instead, they require a system “which has been shown to be effective by testing conducted by an independent third party laboratory, test facility or test organisation.” The result of this is that when the USCG issued provisions on extension for compliance, a similar extension was not provided by EPA. It is understood that EPA regards this as a low priority with regard to enforcement as long as all the other applicable regulations have been met.
What is the industry saying?
INTERTANKO have been proactive, particularly with regard to the US regulations and engaging with the USCG. They have produced a “decision tree”, a simple schematic which clarifies what a shipowner must do to comply with the rules. They have also produced a model extension request letter which can be submitted to the US authorities.
They have provided useful advice on the selection criteria for systems. They strongly recommend that a shipowner checks the USCG website for the list of systems which have been submitted for USCG approval. If a shipowner is considering installing a system that is not on the list they may experience problems in the future if calling to the US. INTERTANKO has also expressed concerns relating to the technology. Their members have reported that the systems installed did not work in practice. There is a reported lack of confidence by some parties in the IMO G8 type-approval guidelines, which were issued in 2008. Following a submission to IMO from ICS, BIMCO, INTERCARGO, INTERTANKO and WSC, a ‘gentlemen’s agreement’ between IMO Member States was made in 2014. This included a revision of the G8 type-approval guidelines and an agreement that vessels with already installed type-approved equipment in accordance with the original IMO Guidelines will not be penalised (excluding United States).
BIMCO have pushed for the strengthening of the G8 guidelines to ensure systems are fit for purpose under real operating conditions. They are also concerned that BWM Convention requires sampling of ships’ ballast water during port state control (PSC) inspections. They are of the opinion that PSC should accept a ship’s International BWM Certificate as evidence of compliance.