Port state control inspections of ballast water in seven countries will be carried out using a new portable test kit that is said to be more effective than existing alternatives.
French company aqua-tools, which specialises in microbiology analytical tools, has delivered the first in series of 30 of its Rapid ATP Ballast Water Monitoring Systems to the Swiss testing and certification organisation, SGS Group, which has agreements to inspect and monitor treated ballast waters of vessels arriving in those countries.
A statement released on Monday (21 August) on behalf of aqua-tools said that the latest to contract SGS is the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, which has required ships to provide water samples since last week.
SGS Group vice-president, global business development manager, Vladimiro Bonamin, explained to BWTT that the company had worked with several PSC authorities on a project basis but the locations of the other six states are covered by confidentiality agreements.
As for Saudi Arabia, however, he said that SGS was one of four inspection companies to have been selected by Saudi Aramco as approved ballast water test providers to the shipping community. “Ships are now obligated, by local regulations, to sample and perform the indicative test while de-ballasting in Saudi Aramco controlled ports, using one of the four approved companies,” he said.
SGS provides ballast water sampling and testing in several countries, Mr Bonamin said. In its statement, aqua-tools listed 16 such states: USA, Canada, South Africa, Germany, Italy, Spain, Belgium, the Netherlands, Finland, UAE, India, China, South Korea, Australia, Thailand and Taiwan.
“To date, our scope for US VGP and IMO D1 and D2 [testing] is primarily performed on behalf of the shipping companies and it is our intention to promote and develop our service offering to the PSCs,” Mr Bonamin said.
SGS and LuminUltra of Canada have been involved in developing the test equipment alongside aqua-tools, which has been designed to be “the most reliable and effective ballast water monitoring solution on the market,” Mr Bonamin had said in aqua-tools’ statement.
It uses bioluminescence techniques to monitor adenosine tri-phosphates (ATP), a molecular structure that is found in all living organisms. Other kits “are ineffective in high salinity waters,” Dr Bonamin said, and “do not provide a reliable tool with which to test the efficacy of ballast water treatment systems.” He told BWTT that SGS uses several technologies but gives priority to the ATP method, “which is able, through preparation steps, to give indicative values for >50 µm, 10-50 µm and total bacteria.”
Mr Raymond said that this test protocol ensures that the proportion of light correlates exactly with the number of ATPs found in ballast water. Other luminometers “use a very rudimentary measurement ‘pen’ to take a small sample of the water” which he said is ineffective “since the reagent required to extract the ATP from the organism is heavily diluted and does not provide an accurate measurement from which to assess efficacy across the entire spectrum specified in the IMO D2 parameters list.”
This system, uses “a unique method for extracting the ATP from the cell walls of all marine organisms, including those with hard shells, in a process that takes just five minutes,” he added. Test results themselves are available after 40 minutes, the statement said.
This means that technology is now available “to provide 100% indicative but accurate readings more or less immediately, without having to send samples off to laboratories.” It can also be used onboard ship.
• Last week, Chelsea Technologies also announced that it was supplying ballast testing equipment to Saudi Aramco.