SHIPOWNERS and shipmanagers are increasingly concerned and annoyed about ballast water treament rules, already compulsory in the US and expected to become general if enough member states decide to ensure invasive species do not enter in water ways
A Lloyd's List survey revealed much unhappiness as US technical requirements look as if they will be world standards, eventually required by the UN's International Maritime Organisation (IMO).
The horrendous expense is another big concern. The survey found that 61 per cent of owners expected to pay US$50,000 to $1 million for a small ballast water treatment system and 50 per cent expected to pay up to $5 million for a larger system.
"The owner must make sure that the maker's list includes suppliers that are acceptable to him, otherwise the shipyards will select the cheapest with a certificate. The cheapest systems do not work in real life," said one survey respondent.
Costs of putting older vessels through the process, and cost of buying, planning and installing treatment systems, just as other regulations force the installation of other new and costly technology, were said to be just too high.
"Many older chemical tankers will not have sufficient auxiliary engine capacity to run a BWT [ballast water treatment], while on the same type of vessels, there is simply no space to locate it, unless a cargo tank is being de-commissioned," a shipowner said.
Said one shipmanager: "Can the massive killing of micro-organisms at sea, through the ballast-treatment systems, create a greater problem in a few generations on the food chain? Has anyone given a thought on that?"
The IMO awaits additional member states, with a collective 2.5 per cent of the global fleet to bring the ballast water convention to the next stage, and then into force a year later.
The US Coast Guard has now temporarily approved more than 40 ballast water treatment systems for ships operating in its national waters.
The US has always said it would adopt its own rules, and concern was expressed that the disparity between the American rules and the international ones would cause trouble when ships entered American ports.
More than 60 per cent said their BWT purchase decision would depend on whether it had US approval. In the end, said one shipowner, the US Coast Guard approval will become a de facto IMO approval, but not the other way around.
One concern was how port state control would conduct compliance checks and what was the risk of fines, detentions and outright bans would be.
Asked if port state control inspectors will take a uniform and consistent approach to testing, 71 per cent said no.
This threw open the question of guarantees from equipment makers and legal liabilities when running afoul of the new inspectorates.
More than 65 per cent said there were in discussions about performance guarantees and more than the 48 per cent said they were in talks about guaranteeing operability, said the Lloyd's List synopsis.
Many of the approved ballast water treatment systems kill all animal life in the tanks. The efficacy of the poison used was a great concern to 36 per cent, with the ability of filter it out being another concern.
Source : HKSG.