South Korean ballast water treatment system manufacturer Panasia could face type-approval cancellation in South Korea and is awaiting a court ruling
Updated: 5 March, 2020
In early February 2020, South Korea’s Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries (MOF) announced the cancellation of type approvals for 48 models of Panasia’s ballast water management systems in its Notice No. 2020-17, "In accordance with Article 18 of the Ballast Water Management Act".
Two weeks later, MOF issued Notice No. 2020-23, suspending the type-approval cancellations announced in the previous notice for 30 days by order of the Seoul Administrative Court.
Article 18 of South Korea’s Ballast Water Management Act covers grounds for cancellation of type-approvals, saying "...the Minister of Oceans and Fisheries may cancel such type-approval or suspend its validity for a prescribed period not exceeding six months".
Article 17 lays out requirements for approval, testing and certification in eight points. Subparagraph 5 covers changes to BWTSs, noting "Any person who receives type-approval and intends to change any matter for which type-approval was granted shall obtain approval from the Minister of Oceans and Fisheries for such change".
"In such cases, if the intended change affects the performance thereof and falls under changes publicly notified by the Minister of Oceans and Fisheries, the person shall undergo all or part of the type-approval test under paragraph (2) separately for the changed part," it continues.
A report in the South Korean press alleged discrepancies were found between the Panasia Glo-En Patrol type-approval and models delivered to customers. It was reported that the South Korean MOF had investigated a complaint lodged in 2019 and conducted a field investigation.
Panasia is one of South Korea’s largest manufacturers of marine equipment, and the cancellation and suspension of cancellation notices from MOF specifically involve 48 models of Panasia’s Glo-En Patrol, a filtration and UV irradiation ballast water treatment system. The system is available in flow rates from 50 m3 per hour to 6,000 m3 per hour. The Glo-En Patrol model has been awarded South Korea, IMO and USCG type-approvals. It is only the South Korean type-approval that is potentially in jeopardy.
South Korean media reports also reported that the MOF had ordered Panasia to replace the parts in ballast water treatment systems with those of the original type-approved specification.
A full cancellation order of the type-approval would likely involve significant additional costs for Panasia. According to reports from South Korea, Panasia has said the discrepancies are an administrative oversight and do not affect the performance of the BWMS or cause any damage to vessels with the systems installed.
Via business social media platform LinkedIn, a member whose profile is listed as a Panasia sales representative commented that Panasia and the MOF discovered the discrepancies in the initial documentation of the South Korean type-approval, and that Panasia had been asked to provide supplementary materials.
"Panasia will have sufficient time to supplement the discrepancies on the approval before the expired date. And systems can still be usable," the post said.
Ballast Water Treatment Technology has reached out to Panasia in South Korea, Europe and the UK for comment on the situation and will continue to seek clarification and to update this article as events unfold.
-additional reporting by Jamey Bergman