Emergency ballast treatment system demonstrated on Great Lakes

Emergency ballast treatment system demonstrated on Great Lakes

Paul Gunton

Paul Gunton · 31 October 2018


A mobile emergency ballast treatment system has been successfully demonstrated in the Great Lakes by two Seattle-based organisations – Global Diving & Salvage and marine engineering specialist Glostens.

Known as Ballast Responder, the mobile ballast water treatment system was developed by Glosten in cooperation with Global, the US Geological Survey and the US National Park Service. The small mobile system is designed to be easily transported to any location to treat vessels that have unmanaged or untreated ballast water in port, grounding, or other emergency situations.

Testing Kit

The Ballast Responder uses an injection unit and pumps for treating the ballast with a chemical dosing agent. In operation the system delivers a sufficient dose of biocide such as sodium hypochlorite – and uniformly mixes the dose throughout the tank using submersible pumps and spray nozzles. After a carefully monitored dosage and residence time, followed by sample testing and redosing with additional biocide if needed to ensure efficacy, the successfully treated tank is then neutralised with sodium thiosulphate. After treatment with the neutralising agent, crews again conduct tests to ensure the ballast water is within the proper parameters.

The Great Lakes demonstration was supported by the National Park Service and the Chamber of Marine Commerce, and was conducted on Algoma Central Corporation’s 28,471dwt Great Lakes bulk carrier Tim S. Dool. “Equipment was operational within eight hours of arrival and the first set of tanks were fully treated, neutralised, and ready to discharge only 20 hours later,” said Glosten Principal and ballast water treatment expert Kevin Reynolds, PE.

The first test treated three ballast water tanks totalling 2,400m3 that was taken up in Lake Ontario. The ballast water was treated and neutralised in-tank during the transit through the Welland Canal and then discharged in Lake Erie. The second test was also performed in-voyage, this time treating another 2,400m3 of ballast water taken up outside of the Detroit River and discharged in Lake Superior. “This deployment provided the opportunity to evaluate the performance and practicality of Ballast Responder on a working Great Lakes bulk carrier to treat challenging fresh water and challenging tank configurations,” said Reynolds.

“Having the ability to perform contingency treatment of ballast water on ships that are working the Great Lakes is very important to us,” said Phyllis Green, Superintendent of Isle Royale National Park in Lake Superior. Moss Landing Marine Laboratories was on board the ship during the voyage to perform an independent assessments of system biological efficacy. Biological efficacy, deployment practicality, and lessons learned will be reported following assessment and review by stakeholders.

The Great Lakes deployment marks the second recent deployment of the Ballast Responder. In May 2018, Global and Glosten employed it on board a cargo vessel in a live deployment. That deployment treated 3,990 tonnes of ballast water from the vessel’s six tanks. “Global is looking forward to the results of the Great Lakes demonstration. We are excited to now offer this service to the Great Lakes,” David DeVilbiss, VP of Casualty & Emergency Response for Global Diving & Salvage.

“Our shipowner members face ongoing challenges to find ballast water treatment systems suitable for Great Lakes operations,” said Bruce Burrows, President of the Chamber of Marine Commerce. “This demonstration plays one part of our members’ broader research efforts. The Ballast Responder is not suitable as a permanent on-board treatment system, but it certainly can fulfil an important need for water treatment in specific circumstances.”

The Ballast Responder unit is presently located in Seattle, WA, with a second kit to be positioned in the Great Lakes for availability to the industry on alien invasive species containment and contingency projects. This Great Lakes demonstration was funded by National Park Service, Chamber of Marine Commerce, the St. Louis County, MN AIS Prevention Program, and Izaac Walton League of America. Logistics and support were performed by Algoma Central Corporation, Global, and Glosten.

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