Ballast Water Management

Q. Trace the history of various instruments dealing with Ballast Management.
Ans. One of the first of the international instruments in this field was 1989 Voluntary Ballast Exchange Guidelines Canada. The others to follow were: 

  • 1991 preliminary guidelines. (IMO).
  • 1993 mandatory regulations for ballast exchange for ships entering the Great Lakes US.
  • 1997 IMO adopts Resolution A.868 (20). Guidelines for the Control and Management of Ships Ballast Water to Minimize the Transfer of Harmful Aquatic Organisms and Pathogens.
  • 2004 IMO finalizes the International Convention for the Control and Management of Ship’s Ballast Water and Sediment which contains both ES and PS
  • Adoption: 13 February 2004, Entry into force: 12 months after ratification by 30 States, representing 35 per cent of world merchant shipping tonnage.

Q When did the Convention come in force?
Ans. The International Convention for the Control and Management of Ships’ Ballast Water and Sediments, 2004, entered into force globally on 8 September 2017.

Q. What is the Ballast Water Management Convention?
Ans. The Ballast Water Management Convention or BWM Convention (full name International Convention for the Control and Management of Ships’ Ballast Water and Sediments, 2004) is a treaty adopted by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) in order to help prevent the spread of potentially harmful aquatic organisms and pathogens in ships’ ballast water.

From 8 September 2017, ships must manage their ballast water so that aquatic organisms and pathogens are removed or rendered harmless before the ballast water is released into a new location. This will help prevent the spread of invasive species as well as potentially harmful pathogens.

Ballast Water Convention has 22 articles. There are section (A, B, C,….) further to the main articles dealing with various aspects.
Section A: General Provisions
Section B: Management and Control Requirements for Ships
Section C: Special Requirements in certain Areas
Section D: Standards of Ballast Water Management
Section E: Survey and Certification requirement.

Q. To which ships, this Convention apply? What is expected of a ship in respect of the Convention?
Ans. The BWM Convention applies to all ships including submersibles, floating craft, floating platforms, FSUs and FPSOs.
It does not apply to:

  • Ships not designed to carry ballast water
  • Ships not operating in International waters
  • Warships, naval auxiliary ships or other ships owned or operated by a state
  • Ships only on non-commercial service, or
  • Ships with permanent ballast water in sealed tanks.

All ships of 400 gross and above will be required to have on board and approved Ballast Water Management Plan and a Ballast Water Record Book, and to be surveyed and issued with an international Ballast Water Management Certificate.

Q. What documents the ships carry in respect of BWM?
Ans. Ships have to carry:

  • A ballast water management plan – specific to each ship, the ballast water management plan includes a detailed description of the actions to be taken to implement the ballast water management requirements and supplemental ballast water management practices;
  • A ballast water record book – to record when ballast water is taken on board; circulated or treated for ballast water management purposes; and discharged into the sea. It should also record when ballast water is discharged to a reception facility and accidental or other exceptional discharges of ballast water; and
  • An International Ballast Water Management Certificate (ships of 400 gt and above) – this is issued by or on behalf of the Administration (flag State) and certifies that the ship carries out ballast water management in accordance with the BWM Convention and specifies which standard the ship is complying with, as well as the date of expiry of the Certificate.
  • Ballast Water Treatment Plant Type Approval Certificate.
  • BWTS USCG approval certificate.
  • Calibration of various sensors on BWTS (VGP).
  • Records of analysis of discharge samples with the details of time and location of intakes.
  • Shore Lab analysis reports (VGP).

Q. What about ships registered under a flag which hasn’t ratified the BWM Convention?
Ans. Such ships may not be issued with the relevant certificates. However, port States which are Parties will expect the ships to comply with the requirements of the Convention, so as to ensure no more favourable treatment is given to such ships.

Q. Describe Ballast Water Management Plan.
Ans. The Ballast Water Management Plan is required to:

  • assist the ship in complying with BWM regulations;
  • identify the ship’s Ballast Water Management Officer;
  • consider ship safety element, provide information to PSC officers on the ship’s ballast handling system and confirm that ballast water management can be effectively planned;
  • include training on BWM operational practices;
  • be written in the working language of the ship;

Q. What authority does a Port State Control Officer have in respect of Ballast Water Inspection on a ship?
Ans. Ships are required to be surveyed and certified and may be inspected by Port State Control officers who can verify that the ship has a valid certificate; inspect the Ballast Water Record Book; and / or sample the ballast water. If there are concerns, then a detailed inspection may be carried out and “the Party carrying out the inspection shall take such steps as will ensure that the ship shall not discharge Ballast Water until it can do so without presenting a threat of harm to the environment, human health, property.

Q. What are the ballast water management standards?
Ans. There are two ballast water management standards (D-1 and D-2). The D-1 standard requires ships to exchange their ballast water in open seas, away from coastal areas. Ideally, this means at least 200 nautical miles from land and in water at least 200 metres deep. By doing this, fewer organisms will survive and so ships will be less likely to introduce potentially harmful species when they release the ballast water.

The D-2 standard specifies the maximum amount of viable organisms allowed to be discharged, including specified indicator microbes harmful to human health. From the date of entry into force of the BWM Convention, all ships must conform to at least the D-1 standard; and all new ships, to the D-2 standard. Eventually, all ships will have to conform to the D-2 standard. For most ships, this involves installing special equipment to treat the ballast water. IMO Member Governments, meeting in the Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC), have agreed an implementation timetable for existing ships, linked to the ship’s International Oil Pollution Prevention Certificate (IOPPC) renewal survey.

Q. What is D-2 standard?
Ans. While the D-1 standard requires ships to conduct an exchange of ballast water such that at least 95% of water by volume is exchanged far away from the coast, the D-2 specifies the maximum amount of viable organisms allowed to be discharged, including specified indicator microbes harmful to human health.

The D-2 standard specifies that ships can only discharge ballast water that meets the following criteria:

  • less than 10 viable organisms per cubic metre which are greater than or equal to 50 micrometres in minimum dimension;
  • less than 10 viable organisms per millilitre which are between 10 micrometres and 50 micrometres in minimum dimension;
  • less than 1 colony-forming unit (cfu) per 100 mililitres of Toxicogenic Vibrio cholerae;
  • less than 250 cfu per 100 millilitres of Escherichia coli; and
  • less than 100 cfu per 100 milliliters of Intestinal Enterococci.

Q. What is viable, Cfu, Vibrio cholera & Intestinal Enterococci?
Ans. Viable is defined as the ability to multiply via binary fission under the controlled conditions. A colony-forming unit (CFU, cfu, Cfu) is a unit used in microbiology to estimate the number of viable bacteria or fungal cells in a sample. Vibrio cholera, are the serogroups that can cause a diarrheal disease which is less severe than cholera and does not have epidemic potential. Coli (Escherichia coli), is a type of bacteria that normally lives in the intestines. It’s also found in the gut of some animals. Most types of E. coli are harmless and even help keep digestive tract healthy. But some strains can cause diarrhea if contaminated food or fouled water is taken.

Q. What must be the compliance standard from Sept 2017?
Ans. The compliance with the D-2 standard will be phased in over time for individual ships, up to 8 September 2024. From 8 September 2017, New ships: must meet the D-2 standard. All ships must have:

  • A ballast water management plan;
  • A ballast water record book; and
  • An International Ballast Water Management Certificate.

Q. By which dates must the existing ships comply?
Ans. The Existing ships must meet at least the D-1 (ballast water exchange) standard; they may also choose to install a ballast water management system or otherwise meet the D-2 (discharge) standard but this is not mandatory until the corresponding compliance date.

If such ship has IOPPC Renewal survey after 8 September 2019, the ship when undergoing a renewal survey linked to the ship’s International Oil Pollution Prevention Certificate after 8 September 2019 will need to meet the D-2 standard by the date of this renewal survey.

Q. What is the implementation schedule of other ships?
Ans. Following table explains this:

Q. During the ballasting operation, what precautions must be observed?
Ans. Appropriate precautions must be observed, when carrying out ballast exchange in following situations:

  • Areas identified with toxic algal blooms.
  • Darkness during ballasting.
  • Very shallow water.
  • Where propeller may stir up sediment.
  • Areas with naturally high levels of suspended sediments.
  • Areas where harmful aquatic organisms or pathogens are known to occur.
  • Situation, when stability of vessel may be crucial.

Q. What practical difficulties are generally faced by ships during ballast exchange?
Ans. Accumulation of Sediments on any horizontal surface in area of drainage is a common problem. In forepeak and hopper sides where the water column is deepest, accumulation is greatest. Sediment also collects on the bottom and bilge shell if drainage is poor, once allowed to accumulate it congeals and stratifies.

Stability related problems are common on chemical tankers due a requirement of maintaining parcel separation. Generally excessive bending moments must be avoided. In the open ocean waves & swell causes impaired stability and sloshing in dynamic conditions.

Q. How is the sampling of ballast water done?
Ans. Ships may be subject to Port State Control in any port or offshore terminal of a Party to the BWM Convention. This inspection may include sampling of the ship’s ballast water, carried out in accordance with the Guidelines for ballast water sampling (G2). However, the time required to analyse the samples shall not be used as a basis for unduly delaying the operation, movement or departure of the ship.

Q. How are ballast water management systems approved?
Ans. D-3 of the Convention covers approval requirements for ballast water management systems. Ballast water management systems must be approved by the Administration taking into account IMO Guidelines. Revised Guidelines for approval of ballast water management systems (G8) were adopted in 2016 and have now been reworked as a draft mandatory Code for approval of ballast water management systems (BWMS Code). The BWMS Code includes robust test and performance specifications as well as detailed requirements for type approval reporting and control and monitoring equipment. Ballast water management systems which make use of Active Substances or preparations containing one or more Active Substances must in addition be approved by IMO, in accordance with the Procedure for approval of ballast water management systems that make use of Active Substances (G9).

Q. Which organizations supported IMO in expediting the research and preparing the guidelines in respect of new technologies for BWPS?
Ans. For the research and innovation, IMO coordinated with organizations like Global Environment Facility (GEF), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) – IMO, GloBallast Partnerships Programme (2000-2017).

Q. What are the popular technologies available?
Ans. Most popular disinfection technologies are:

  • Filtration and UV.
  • Chlorination or Electro chlorination.

Q. What principles are used for physical separation?
Ans. The different principles used are:Surface Filtration; Hydrocyclone; and Centrifugal seperation.

Q. What are the benefits of using filtration process?
Ans. It reduces Organic Load and hence helps saving on power and energy. It allows good sediment control. It brings clarity and reduces opacity. Applying filtration in first stage, it protects the equipment downstream. There is easy availability with many manufacturers. 40 or 50 micron filter, auto back flushing type, including differential pressure sensing afford compatibility.

Q. What is the UV Disinfection? How is the efficiency improved?
Ans. The Ultraviolet system depends upon the UV irradiance to manipulate the generic DNA structure. At very high intensity, it can even kill the organisms. At lower intensity level, it can render the organism nonviable, which means it is not able to reproduce, which is acceptable for IMO but not for USCG. If the water is clear the UV irradiance is high and is more effective. Smaller the organism lesser would be the intensity and power requirement. However, for larger organism, the UV intensity may be ineffective in dealing with it satisfactorily and thus, may result in non-compliance.

For better results, the first step is to introduce a filtration plant to increase the plant efficiency. Additional benefits are in reduction of sediment build up inside the Ballast tanks. It is therefore advisable to use a fine filter mesh to reduce the size of organisms and sediments and increase the BWTS effectiveness.

Q. What are the drawbacks of UV Disinfection?
Ans. Finer Filter creates more back pressure which results in more Power required to pump. Filter Back Flushing will create problems in highly contaminated waters. UV effectiveness is reduced in opaque conditions. UV plants do not have residual effect and have to run during Ballasting and Deballasting mode. Power consumption of UV Technology is greater than the other technologies in competing world. Maintenance issues for both, filters as well as UV Quartz sleeve are common, especially when water is turbid. There can be health issues to with UV lamps.

Q. How does the Chlorination method work?
Ans. It uses a very simple and well known technology. Chlorine Tablets or Sodium Hypo Chlorite, etc have been used in domestic waters.  The dosage rate depends upon the Total Residual Oxidant (TRO) value to be maintained. Since the residual effect remains in the treated water, prior deballasting the water is already dechlorinated. Due residual effect any organisms due to eggs hatching in the tanks are killed / sterilized.

Q. What is electro chlorination method?
Ans. The Electro Cleen System of 3WAVES Energy treats all incoming water and sediment passing through the electrolysis chamber unit with ‘Techcross’ innovative technology. Also, it is eco-friendly with low power consumption requirements because a fine mesh filter is not required. All the ballast water is treated directly as it passes through the Electro Chamber Unit then this fully treated water flows into the ballast tanks. After treatment, the treated sea water containing residual hypochlorous acid flows into the ballast water tanks. The residual hypochlorous acid in the water maintains disinfection efficacy in the ballast tank and prohibits re-growth of microorganisms. Any remaining TRO will undergo a natural degradation process or will need to go through a neutralization process before being discharged. This neutralization process minimizes any negative impact to the marine environment.

ECS (Electro Cleen System) is a Ballast Water Management System (BWMS) using the principle of electrolysis to effectively disinfect ballast water. With the application of electric currents to the titanium electrodes, the electric potential produced increases disinfection efficacy by destroying cell membranes of microorganisms as a result of generating voltage. In addition, OH- radicals generated during the electrolysis procedure by the electrodes also disinfect microorganisms. Through electrolysis, sufficient amount of TRO is generated, preventing the re-growth of micro-organisms and maintaining disinfection efficacy.

Q. What are the drawbacks of different methods used?
Ans. In the method using Filtration and UV, turbidity lowers plant efficiency. During Deballasting plant needs to run at appreciable load. Hazard may be caused due Mercury vapour and Ozonization. In the method using Chemical Chlorination with 50 µ filter, use of active substance is there for both Chlorination and Neutralizing. This method has hazard of handling chemicals. In electro chlorination method active substances are used only as neutralizing agent. Hazard of handling chemicals is there in this method too.

Q. What is AMS, BWTS?
Ans. There are currently 65 types of BWTS models that are accepted as an AMS (Alternate Management System) by the USCG. An AMS is basically a temporary acknowledgement of a flag (IMO) type approval by the USCG. An installed BWTS (AMS) can be used in US waters (without a USCG type approval) for a limited period of time. When a manufacturer of a BWTS applies for the system to be an AMS, they also commit to proceed with the type approval testing per the USCG requirements. Currently, there are 17 USCG type approved BWTS.

Q. What are the different guidelines pertaining the BWM Convention?
Ans. The following is the up-to-date list of Guidelines relating to the uniform implementation of the BWM Convention that have been developed, adopted and, in some cases, revised:

  1. Guidelines for Sediment Reception Facilities (G1)
  2. Guidelines for Ballast Water Sampling (G2)
  3. Guidelines for Ballast Water Management Equivalent Compliance (G3)
  4. Guidelines for Ballast Water Management and Development of Ballast Water Management Plans (G4)
  5. Guidelines for Ballast Water Reception Facilities (G5)
  6. 2017 Guidelines for Ballast Water Exchange (G6)
  7. 2017 Guidelines for Risk Assessment Under Regulation A-4 of The BWM Convention (G7)
  8. 2016 Guidelines for Approval of Ballast Water Management Systems (G8)
  9. Procedure For Approval Of Ballast Water Management Systems That Make Use Of Active Substances (G9)
  10. Guidelines for Approval And Oversight Of Prototype Ballast Water Treatment Technology Programmes (G10)
  11. Guidelines for Ballast Water Exchange Design and Construction Standards (G11)
  12. 2012 Guidelines on Design and Construction to Facilitate Sediment Control on Ships (G12)
  13. Guidelines for Additional Measures Regarding Ballast Water Management Including Emergency Situations (G13)
  14. Guidelines on Designation of Areas for Ballast Water Exchge (G14)
  15. Guidelines for Ballast Water Exchange in the Antarctic Treaty Area
  16. Guidelines for Port State Control Under The BWM Convention (Resolution MEPC.252(67)).

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