More type-approval in the pipe as US ramps up ballast water enforcement

Malcolm Latarche
Malcolm Latarche

04 April 2017


In addition to the three systems already US Type-approved at least two more are in the pipeline, with Ecochlor this week joining SunRui in having submitted their final applications. If accepted the Ecochlor and SunRui systems along with the three already approved (Optimarin, Ocean Saver and Alfa Laval) may gain an advantage as the USCG begins to ratchet up enforcement of the ballast regulations in the US. Gaining approval under the US system is a slow process made slower for some that have been obliged to repeat IMO tests because the chosen method of testing did not have USCG approval. The SunRui application was submitted in January and in accordance with the US type-approval process, the application then undergoes USCG evaluation before it is approved, rejected or requests made for further information. Last month Jeffrey Lantz, Director of Commercial Regulations and Standard USCG, speaking at CMA referred indirectly to the SunRui application saying, “a fourth system is in the final stages of review and should be completed shortly”. So far 45 systems including the five mentioned have issued Letters of Intent (LOIs) to undergo testing and several of those are reportedly well along the way to completing test programmes. Two of the 45 – Aquametro and Kuraray submitted their LOIs in March this year with the other LOIs spanning from 2013 to 2016. The number of LOIs submitted is well below the number of systems with IMO type-approval which may indicate that some makers are not planning to apply for US-type approval or may even be contemplating a withdrawal from the market. One reason why some of the testing programmes can take longer under the US process was explained to ShipInsight yesterday by Evoqua Water Technologies’ Business Manager, Ballast Water (USA), Matt Granitto who said that Evoqua, along with other system makers had chosen NSF International as the Independent Laboratory to undertake the tests on their system. Apparently, when conducting tests, NSF insists on using natural populations of organisms rather than an artificial mix as some other ILs do. This can be slower because, the density of natural populations can be seasonal meaning tests are not possible to a fixed timetable. Granitto does expect that the tests on the Evoqua system will be completed and US type-approval south this year. In his CMA speech, Lantz also referred to the US extension programme highlighting that the number of extensions being permitted to ships is reducing now that type-approved systems are available. “Now that we have type approved systems, it is no longer automatically considered that a ship cannot comply with the discharge standard. Additional justification and reasons need to be provided, which we need to consider before granting an extension”, he said. Lantz also said, “In addition to revising our extension policy, we are also ramping up our enforcement posture to ensure compliance with the regulations. We have been working with our field offices to better educate and inform them of the BWMS regulatory requirements and we are in the process of developing formal enforcement guidance. To date, most of the compliance issues that we have identified include expired extension letters, inoperable AMS, operating past compliance date with no extension or AMS and discharging untreated ballast water in US waters. Recently, we have taken action to require ships to use their installed AMS, or in some cases, leave port in order to conduct deep ocean exchange. We’ve also taken penalty action against at least two ships that pumped out untreated, un-exchanged BW with no extension or AMS. In one case we are pursuing a civil penalty”.