By Steve Candito, CEO Ecochlor, Inc.
Time is running out for manufacturers who have not yet received IMO BWMS Code (otherwise known as revised G8) Type Approval and it may have an impact on shipowners who plan to install these systems on their vessels. Any shipowner who has trade routes outside of the United States will be affected when the requirements come into effect on 28 October 2020. According to MEPC.300(72) paragraph 1.5, “Approval of a system is intended to screen out BWMS that would fail to meet the standards prescribed in regulation D-2 of the Convention. Approval of a system, however, does not ensure that a given system will work on all ships or in all situations.” The testing required to receive BWMS Code approval is similar to U.S. Coast Guard Type Approval testing and offers far greater transparency with respect to any limitations of the type approved ballast water management system (BWMS).
Updates in BWMS Code vs. G8
In addition to an updated testing protocol, the BWMS Code Type Approval process has a number of changes, which must be noted on the Type Approval certificate. There are four issues that vessel owners should keep a particular eye on. These are:
Analyzing each of the above factors more closely, the changes in System Operating Parameters related to water quality typically focuses on the salinity and temperature of the water. Prior to the BWMS Code, manufacturers could test their BWMS in only two different salinities, but received an approval for all three water types – fresh, salt and brackish water. Under the new requirements, manufacturers must test in all three salinities to receive approval for all three. Further, at least five land-based test cycles in each salinity must be conducted in order to evaluate compliance with the D-2 standard at the minimum holding time specified by the BWMS manufacturer. A BWMS that has not been tested in all salinities will have their limitations included within the Type Approval Certificate.
The BWMS Code specifically states “[a] Type Approval Certificate of a BWMS shall be issued for the specific application for which the BWMS is approved, e.g. for specific ballast water capacities, flow rates, salinity or temperature regimes, or other limiting operating conditions or circumstances as appropriate.” [MEPC.300(72)]
The second change focuses on System Design Limitations (SLDs) and again the Type Approval Certificate must identify each relevant operational parameter together with the validated low and/or high parameter values. The system’s design capacity is obviously a critical parameter since it must match the vessel’s ballast flow rate. For example, the Ecochlor system is approved for 50 – 16,200 m3/hr., which is the highest approved flow rate in the industry. This flow rate capacity must be noted on the BWMS Code Type Approval certificate and the vessel may not exceed the flow rate listed in the SDL.
Another SDL example, which is particularly important for UV system approval, are limitations related to turbid or “dirty water”. This factor will be crucial for vessels on trade routes that include muddy rivers like the Mississippi, Amazon and Yangtze. Thus, vessel owner must ensure that any UV BWMSs SDL encompasses the dirtiest water the vessel is likely to encounter or the BWMS will not be approved to operate in certain locations based on the SDL listed on the Type Approval Certificate.
The third factor relates to bypass requirements in the BWMS Code that now requires makers to have “…bypasses or overrides to protect the safety of the ship and personnel…” that are connected to the vessel’s ballast system. These bypass systems must activate an alarm and be recorded by the BWMSs control and monitoring equipment. The crew is also required to record this information within the ballast water record book every time the system is bypassed or an alarm activates.
Lastly, with regard to general monitoring, the system must monitor, record and store sufficient data on the various operating parameters to verify correct operation for the past two years. Alerts must automatically occur when the system is shutdown or when an operational parameter exceeds the approved parameter.
Ecochlor BWMS Code Type Approval
Ecochlor’s BWMS Code Type Approval provides a good summary and example of what is required in moving from G8 to BWMS Code Type Approval. Ecochlor received its original IMO G8 Type Approval in 2011 from the German Federal Maritime Agency (BSH), which was subsequently re-issued by the Norwegian Maritime Authority (NMA). Ecochlor conducted additional Type Approval testing to meet both the BWMS Code and USCG requirements, which demonstrated the requirements were met to the satisfaction of the Administration. The Type Approval testing required performing biological efficacy testing in fresh, brackish, and marine salinities, as well as shipboard testing to demonstrate the biological efficacy and suitability of the BWMS in a shipboard environment. This Type Approval testing confirmed that no changes in equipment or in the operation of the previously Type Approved Ecochlor BWMS were required and BWMS Code Type Approval was granted in August 2020 with the following minimal limitations noted on the certificate:
Temperature & Salinity: Temperature and salinity of the ballast water are not a limiting condition for the Ecochlor BWMS
Holding Time: The Ecochlor BWMS has a case-by-case holding time with a minimum 24-hour hold time and a ClO2 concentration that is equal or below the MADC of 0.2 mg/L
Dosing: ClO2 dosing is set at 4.25 mg/L at ballasting [no need to treat again or neutralize at discharge]
Treatment Rated Capacity: The minimum flow rate for the Ecochlor System is 50 m3/hr. The Treatment Rated Capacities of the Ecochlor system ranges from 500 m3/hr to 16,200 m3/hr depending on the system model.
Shipowner Extensions for Noncompliant BWMS
With the imminent deadline, many vessel owners continue to seek extensions. In the past, regulators have been quite lenient by offering vessel compliance date extensions for ballast water management system installs, particularly now due to the Covid-19 pandemic. However, BWMS Code requirements were widely publicized prior to the pandemic and shipowners were aware of this requirement. Thus, I think the October 28, 2020 date for compliance is pretty solid.
While the BWMS Code does not distinguish between retrofits and new builds there are some varying differences in the definition of “installed” that are important to note and may provide owners with a basis to still utilize a BWMS that is not BWMS Code Type Approved
For reference, BWMS Code/Resolution MEPC.300(72) defines the retrofit “’installed’ deadline as the contractual date of delivery of the BWMS to the ship. In absence of this date, the word “installed” means the actual date of delivery of the [BWMS] to the ship.” For newbuilds, “installed” usually means the ship’s delivery date.
Therefore, if it is a new build and the BWMS does not have its type approval by October 28, 2020, then there is not much the vessel owner can do other than install a type approved system. There is a slight chance that some flag administrations might grant very short-term extensions if the owner and BWMS manufacturer can prove that their BWMS Code approval is “imminent” and that the system fitted will automatically become compliant at that point, but this is not a plan that an owner should depend on.
If it is a retrofit, the vessel owner can conceivably accelerate the date the BWMS is “delivered” to the ship to a date prior to October 28, 2020, even though the ship and system may not be ready to be placed in service until after the deadline. In this scenario, the BWMS does not have the BWMS Code Type Approval but has approval under the old regulations, which can still be used.
BWMS Code Compliance Impact on Suppliers
After the BWM Convention ratification there were approximately 83 BWMSs that received approval under the original IMO regulations. When the USCG released their type approval requirements, that were more stringent than the IMO regulations, many manufacturers decided not to continue testing for compliance in U.S. waters. To date, only 34 BWMS have been USCG type approved, with several additional systems pending approval.
Under the BWMS Code, there are only 19 BWMS that have been approved as of August 2020. The systems approved at that time to the BWMS Code were: Wärtsilä Aquarius® EC BWMS; Wärtsilä Aquarius® UV BWMS; BalClor BWMS; BAWAT BWMS Mk2; CompactClean; Ecochlor® BWTS; ECS-Hychlor; Evoluation; HiBallast BWMS; Hyde Guardian-US; OceanGuard BWMS; OceanSaver MKII; oneTank; PureBallast 3.2; Seascape; COSCO Blue Ocean Shield (BOS); ERMA FIRST FIT; GloEn-Patrol 2.0 BWMS; Panasia Co.; and, Envirocleanse inTank™
Ultimately, it is not likely that there will be more than ten or so BWMS suppliers that will be in the industry in the future. That is why the changes to these regulations have such far-reaching impacts on the market. Owners are often required to select a BWMS before they have sufficient information on the long-term viability of the manufacturer to make a well-educated choice. This situation creates uncertainty, slows the roll-out of technology, and often forces owners into the arms of suppliers that have deep pockets to obtain early approvals rather than suppliers that have more suitable systems for their vessel type or trade route.
Next BWMS Regulatory Hurdle
The last few years have put considerable pressure on shipowners to prepare their vessels to meet increasingly rigorous environmental regulations. The next IMO requirement in the BWMS queue is biological efficacy testing during BWMS commissioning (BWM.2/Circ.70) with an expected start date for all Member States to begin in October 2021. However, some Member States including Singapore, Australia and Cyprus have already adopted this commissioning testing requirement.
The biological efficacy test procedure is not dissimilar to the shipboard testing that all BWMS have undertaken during their IMO/USCG Type Approval processes. However, the purpose of the IMO commissioning testing is to ensure the proper installation and operation of the BWMS, not to re-confirm type approval testing. The owner must select an independent testing organization to carry out IMO commissioning testing. In most cases, according to the guidelines set in place by IMO and/or the vessel Flag Administration, the manufacturer may be allowed to be present, but is not permitted to either operate the system or to assist the crew. The crew is required to run the system from uptake to discharge. This requirement further emphasizes the importance of crew training. If crews are not fully familiar with the system and fail to run the system properly, it could result in a very expensive failure of IMO commissioning testing.
It is also important for the shipowner to be aware that IMO commissioning testing will add time to the installation schedule. Shipowners should allow sufficient time during the dry-docking period for the crew to receive proper BWMS operation training and perhaps to perform some trial operations, as well as allow the testing organization time to set up prior to conducting the IMO commissioning testing.
Click here to learn more.