As a supplier of testing equipment, Canada-based biotechnology specialist LuminUltra, sees the decision taken at MEPC 73 that testing methods should be used to show a new vessel’s ballast water treatment system is working properly as a positive step.
LuminUltra recently acquired aqua-tools in a deal that included the award-winning B-QUA ballast water test kit and aqua-tools’ European customer base for its second-generation Adenosine Triphosphate measurement products.
Thus, the decision taken at MEPC 73 expands the potential market for LuminUltra and aqua-tools goods and services.
Until now, only a ballast water treatment plant’s electrical and automation systems and physical parameters were checked during the commissioning process and biological testing of treated water was not a requirement.
However, MEPC 73 agreed that all the three size classes of organisms need to be measured and assessed. This is because zooplankton – one of the most difficult organisms to treat during the type-approval process – can remain viable in sediments where there is little light, while phytoplankton is more easily treated.
LuminUltra chief executive Pat Whalen said “We fully support this decision by the committee. This new guidance means that a ballast water treatment system can no longer be certified for operation unless compliance has been validated as part of the commissioning process, which is good news for shipowners and the environment. Problems can occur during the BWTS commissioning phase, including damage to important components or incorrect installation of the system. This can result in the system not working as it should, resulting in a lack of confidence that it will be compliant with the regulations. Testing during commissioning validates the installation to deliver confidence to shipowners and operators that their type-approved ballast water treatment systems are working properly.”
The guidance is currently specific only to newbuild ships, but a proposal is expected to be submitted to MEPC 74 requesting the regulation be extended to cover existing ships with ballast water treatment systems validated during an additional survey.
LuminUltra Ballast Water Monitoring Solutions business development manager Carine Magdo said “We are delighted that MEPC has heard our calls for the provision of a protocol to verify system efficiency, especially given recent reports that a significant number of installed BWTS are not working as they should. Testing system efficiency as part of the commissioning/certification process means that ships will no longer be able to put to sea with an incompliant system.”
While the new requirement is not intended to validate the design of a type-approved BWMS, classification societies are now implementing the new requirement into their BWTS commissioning certification processes.
Ballast water management system choice will be discussed at the Asian Tanker Conference in Singapore in February.