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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Tide turns for enforcing ballast water convention
14 July 2009
Lloyd's List

AMONG the 191 papers the marine environment protection committee will study this week are 11 requesting that various ballast water systems be subject to either basic or final approval, writes Craig Eason.

Basic and final approval are required by the International Maritime Organization for any system that uses a chemical or other active substance to destroy organisms in a ship’s ballast water.

While these systems will not be given the ultimate type approval from a flag administration until at least six months after final approval, it is an indication that the number of systems becoming available is set to multiply in 2010.

To date there are only four systems that have been type approved by a flag state.

In a strange turn of events, the first of the IMO ballast water convention’s deadlines was reached two years ago without the convention having been brought into force and without enough systems approved for installation.

The International Chamber of Shipping was in favour at the time of an IMO assembly resolution that allowed newbuilding vessels with keels laid in 2009 not to have a ballast water systems onboard.

The result was a period of limbo with member states that have signed the convention being asked to turn a blind eye to enforcement until it was decided that there were enough systems available.

The 11 products on offer represent the largest number of ballast water systems that have ever gone to the IMO for approval.

While not all are being type approved, it gives a sense of the maturity of the market, according to ICS marine director Peter Hinchliffe.

“While we fought very strongly for an assembly resolution for states not to apply the requirements for new ships built in 2009, we think there are now enough systems becoming available, and therefore will not be supporting further delays to the enforcement of the convention,” he said.

There may be some objection from shipyards that could now find themselves redesigning vessels that are scheduled to be built next year and beyond.

“We know the shipyards may not agree with us, but the only way to fit the equipment properly is to do it in the build,” said Mr Hinchliffe.

“We want to get into a situation that newbuilding ships in 2010 are built with a ballast water system.”

The recognition that there are now enough systems available could also provide the impetus to get the weight of IMO members to ratify the convention and bring it into force.

According to the IMO rules the ballast water convention will come into force when 30 states, representing 35% of the world’s fleet, have ratified the convention. To date there are 18, representing only 15.4% of the global fleet.
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
HHI debuts home-grown ballast water system
30 June 2009
Lloyd's List

HYUNDAI Heavy Industries, the world’s largest shipbuilder, has delivered its first vessel equipped with a self-developed ballast water treatment system, writes Mike Grinter.

The 7,000 teu Astrid Schulte, delivered to the Schulte Group, has been fitted with HHI’s EcoBallast.

Hyundai Heavy said it was the first of its kind to be developed at a commercial yard.

“Amid the industry’s downturn, the eco-friendly ballast water management systems have emerged as a lucrative area of business. HHI hopes to strengthen its competitiveness in this market,” said HHI spokesman Cho Seung-woo.

Mr Cho said the EcoBallast was an example of the industry showing that it was prepared to meet its environmental responsibilities. “We plan to get the final approval of the IMO [International Maritime Organization] early next year after onboard approval tests during the voyage of the containership,” he said.

HHI said the market for ballast water treatment systems would be worth up to $20bn by 2017, when all ships will be required to be equipped with such systems under the requirements of the IMO convention on ballast water.

However, the convention is yet to be ratified as concerns on standardisation of the systems drag on. According to HHI, 5bn tonnes of seawater is transferred by ballast tanks every year.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
EPA agrees to tougher rules on ballast water
Agency settles lawsuit to regulate source of many invasive species
9 March 2011
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

The federal government has agreed to step up its efforts to force freighters sailing on the Great Lakes to begin treating their biologically contaminated ballast water discharges like any other industrial pollutant.

Unwanted stowaways in ship-steadying ballast tanks have been blamed for some of the Great Lakes' most troublesome invaders since the St. Lawrence Seaway created an artificial shipping link to the Atlantic Ocean a half century ago. The list includes the quagga mussels that now smother the bottom of Lake Michigan, choking out native fish species and spawning noxious algae outbreaks that routinely pile up in stinking mounds on some of Wisconsin's most prized beaches.

On Tuesday, conservation groups announced that the Environmental Protection Agency had agreed in an out-ofcourt settlement to draft new pollution standards for ballast discharges under the landmark 1972 Clean Water Act.

The settlement, prompted by a 2009 lawsuit, calls for the EPA to develop ballast pollution standards for the shipping industry by the end of 2012. The EPA would then begin enforcing those standards by the end of the following year.

The ruling affects all ships visiting U.S. ports, and it is expected to have a particularly dramatic effect on the Great Lakes, a cluster of freshwater seas that evolved essentially isolated from the rest of the aquatic world until it was linked to coastal ports with a system of locks, dams, channels and canals.

"This settlement should prompt EPA to treat 'living pollution' as aggressively as it would an oil spill or toxic release," said Thom Cmar, an attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Two lawsuits The settlement can be traced back to a legal ruling in 2005 to end the EPA's longstanding policy to exempt ships from normal requirements of the Clean Water Act. The EPA appealed that ruling and lost, and in 2008 announced it would begin enforcing the Clean Water Act by requiring ships to flush their ballast tanks in midocean.

Flushing tanks with saltwater to expel or kill organisms picked up at foreign ports is a practice scientists say goes a long way, but not all the way, in protecting the lakes from the next zebra mussel, invasive fish, or fishkilling virus. But it was also something that the shipping industry was already doing when the EPA began requiring it, so environmentalists sued again in 2009 to force the agency to require more of the industry.

The result of that second lawsuit was Tuesday's settlement.

"The EPA permit we challenged in this lawsuit did nothing more than allow shippers to continue business as usual - passing on the economic and environmental costs of invasive species to taxpayers," said Nina Bell, executive director of the Northwest Environmental Advocates, a West Coast group that brought the initial Clean Water Act lawsuit a decade ago.

The announcement was just the latest indication that a new era of environmental protection is on the not-toodistant horizon for the Great Lakes.

The EPA was already on track to update its permits for ballast discharges and had convened two panels to help it do the job. One is looking at how rigid the pollution standards should be to protect U.S. waters - in other words, how "sterile" a discharge must be to be declared safe. The other is looking at technologies available to kill ballast dwellers. Those reports are expected this spring, as is a separate ballast regulation from the U.S. Coast Guard.

Individual Great Lakes states, including Wisconsin, have been pressing ahead with rules that will be phased in during the next few years.

Seeking single standard The shipping industry has acknowledged the ballast problem and supports the concept of a single federal ballast discharge standard. Its fear is that the emerging patchwork of varying state regulations will result in confusing - if not crippling - laws for ship operators to follow.

The settlement Tuesday also requires the EPA to encourage "regionally consistent approaches to settling ballast water standards" among Great Lakes states.

Efforts to reach the American Great Lakes Port Association for comment Tuesday were unsuccessful, as were efforts to reach the EPA, though an employee familiar with the negotiations confirmed the settlement. A spokeswoman for the St. Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation declined to comment.

The settlement also apparently affects the Great Lakes "laker" fleet - ships that sail solely within the Great Lakes. These vessels aren't responsible for bringing in unwanted species, but conservationists have targeted them as well because they can move species within lakes, speeding up the whole invasion process.

A spokesman for the Lake Carriers Association, which represents U.S. lakers, declined to comment, citing the fact that his group is engaged in a separate ballast lawsuit. That lawsuit is tied to the state of New York's pending ballast rules.

The Great Lakes are now home to at least 185 non-native species, and the ruling could affect inland waters across the continent, because some of the most notorious invaders have used the lakes as a beachhead.

Zebra and quagga mussels, for example, have spilled down the Chicago River and into the heart of the continent.

The pipe-clogging mollusks have also likely hitched rides on trailered boats across the continental divide because they are invading some of the West's most important reservoirs. "The Great Lakes have been global ground zero for freshwater invasions for decades," said Joel Brammeier, president of the Chicagobased Alliance for the Great Lakes.

"U.S. EPA's first cut at a (ballast) permit didn't even come close to stemming the onslaught," he said. "We're heartened the agency appears to be getting serious about preventing new invasions before they happen."

For the Journal Sentinel's ongoing coverage of Great Lakes issues, go to www.jsonline.com/greatlakes.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
New York drops ballast standards shippers fought
Fri, Feb 24, 2012

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (AP) — New York state officials have backed away from tough regulations for ridding ballast water of invasive species that the maritime industry says would bring international shipping in the Great Lakes to a halt.

The rules, which had been scheduled to take effect in August 2013, would order cargo vessels to cleanse ballast water to a level at least 100 times stricter than international standards before releasing it. The shipping industry contends no technology exists to meet the New York requirement, although environmentalists disagree.

Shippers say the policy would prohibit any cargo ship without the required technology from traveling through New York territory on the St. Lawrence River, the gateway to the Great Lakes — effectively shutting down commercial traffic between the lakes and the Atlantic. Traffic at the busy Port of New York and New Jersey also would be disrupted, they say. An industry report said 72,000 jobs and at least $11.5 billion in annual business and tax revenue were at stake.

New York's Department of Environmental Conservation said this week it was postponing the effective date of its rules until December 2013. Because they are tied to a federal permit that expires then, the state rules essentially are being canceled.

"New York remains concerned about the introduction and spread of invasive species in the state's waterways, and we hope that a strong national solution can be achieved," said Joe Martens, the department's commissioner. "At the same time, shipping and maritime activity is critical to New York state and international commerce."

Maritime industry groups expressed relief.

"They've made a decision that is responsive to the economic climate and to protecting jobs," Steve Fisher, executive director of the American Great Lakes Ports Association, said Friday.

Canada's transport ministry also praised New York's announcement, which came as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency wrapped up a public comment period for ballast regulations it has proposed. They would require ships to meet the international standards, which the industry says are achievable.

The standards limit the number of live organisms in certain volumes of water.

Ships carry ballast water for stability in rough seas and dump it after arriving in port to take on cargo. Invasive species including the zebra and quagga mussel, the spiny water flea and the round goby have hitched rides from European waters to the Great Lakes in ballast tanks. Prevention and damage control from aquatic invasive species in the region costs more than $200 million a year.

The U.S. and Canada require vessels to exchange their ballast water at sea or rinse empty tanks with salt water, which is believed to kill most freshwater organisms. But some could survive inside residual puddles of water or muck, so regulators want ships to take the extra step of treating ballast water before releasing it.

The EPA is expected to decide in November whether it will adopt the clean-water limits set by the International Maritime Organization, an arm of the United Nations. It released a statement saying those standards are based on "the best available science" and would "substantially reduce the risk of invasive species entering U.S. waters and reduce water pollution from vessels."

But environmental groups say the international standards are too weak. They want clean-water requirements 100 to 1,000 times stronger to kill all organisms in ballast water.

Martens said New York also wants EPA to strengthen its standards. If the federal agency refuses, New York has legal authority to reinstate its requirements.

"They're still arguing for more stringent technology and that's a positive signal," said Thom Cmar, attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council.
 
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