The delayed MEPC 75 has taken place and the amendments to ballast water testing were approved
The 75th session of the Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) was originally scheduled to be a live meeting at the London headquarters to take place between 30 March to 3 April 2020. The Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic forced the cancellation of that meeting, which was commuted to an 11.00 am to 2.00 pm virtual meeting each day between 16 to 20 November 2020.
Not every item on the agenda was covered, and there was no doubt that MEPC 75’s main concern was reinforcing the message that greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions was a top priority for IMO and shipping, and to head off unilateral action from the EU and other regional authorities.
However, there were some ballast water items on the MEPC 75 agenda, and in his virtual address to the November meeting, IMO secretary-general Kitack Lim said “The draft amendments to the Ballast Water Management Convention include requirements to commission test ballast water management systems. Both draft amendments were approved at MEPC 74, for adoption at this session,” he said.
The approval of commission testing will give operators some confidence that the installed system works as advertised. The approval of indicative testing is to provide ongoing assurance. Both types of testing have plus and minus points, as discussed by experts at Riviera’s Ballast water testing and compliance: match fit and fit-for-purpose? webinar.
The MEPC adopted amendments to the International Convention for the Control and Management of Ships’ Ballast Water and Sediments, 2004 (BWM Convention), concerning commissioning testing of ballast water management systems and the form of the International Ballast Water Management Certificate. The amendments are expected to enter into force on 1 June 2022.
MEPC 75 approved revised Guidance for the commissioning testing of ballast water management systems (BWM.2/Circ.70/Rev.1); and revised Guidance on ballast water sampling and analysis for trial use in accordance with the BWM Convention and Guidelines (G2) (BWM.2/Circ.42/Rev.2).
BWM.2/Circ.70/Rev.1’s approval has been widely anticipated and class and flag states have rules and procedures in place. Lloyd’s Register, for instance, added a new category in its Approval of Service Suppliers for Commissioning Testing of Ballast Water Management Systems procedures.
The adoption of these amendments was expected and cannot be read as closure for ballast water at IMO or US Coast Guard level.
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