To become binding on the world’s merchant fleet, the IMO standards for ballast water management must be ratified by countries that constitute 35% of the world’s shipping tonnage. This has been on the verge of occurring for some time. When last updated by the IMO, the percentage was over 34%. IMO usually updates the tonnage percentage yearly, but has switched to updating its flag state fleets database monthly. An article in Ballast Water Treatment Technology posits that as a result, it is possible that normal daily variations in flag state tonnages could mean that the 35 per cent threshold has been transcended. See, http://www.ballastwatermanagement.co.uk/news/view,ballast-water-convention-may-not-need-more-ratifications_42188.htm.
On Friday, March 4, 2016 Katie Weaver, Ecochlor Technical Sales Manager, presented an “all hands” training session on the Ecochlor BWTS (ballast Water Treatment System) USCG Type Approval process for USCG Sector Boston active duty, civilian and auxiliary personnel from the Prevention Division. A second session that day included a 20-minute presentation covering a case study about the recent retrofit installation of the Ecochlor BWTS on a U.S. flagged merchant vessel.
Verrill Dana mourns the passing and celebrates the life of Peter Bollier, who passed on Friday, February 5. His many accomplishments include his leadership role at Ecochlor, where his vision, management and leadership skills were a main driver in the growing use of ballast water treatment technology, which will result in his legacy including enhanced protection for Earth’s oceans from the scourge of invasive marine species. Our condolences to Peter’s family and his colleagues at Ecochlor. The obituary published in today’s Boston Globe is at: http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/bostonglobe/obituary.aspx?n=peter-j-bollier&pid=177662617&fhid=6737.
Congratulations to Verrill Dana client Ecochlor, Inc. The Ecochlor® Ballast Water Treatment System (BWTS) has been selected for installation onboard the fleet of vessels managed by Liberty Maritime Corporation (Liberty), a New York-based commercial shipping company which operates 9 U.S. and foreign flag vessels. The Ecochlor® BWTS uses a two-step process to treat ballast water – filtration followed by disinfection with the well-known biocide, chlorine dioxide. The system’s effectiveness is not impaired by variations in salinity, temperature, turbidity, organics, and vibration, which can impact other treatment options. Liberty’s vessels provide efficient and dependable international ocean transportation services for humanitarian cargo; U.S. government and military cargo; as well as commercial cargo. Ecochlor’s selection reflects Liberty’s cornerstone management philosophy of protecting the environment, its mariners and clients. See, The Ecochlor® Ballast Water Treatment System (BWTS) has been selected for installation onboard the fleet of vessels managed by Liberty Maritime Corporation (Liberty).
On October 5, in the case of Natural Resources Defense Council v. U.S. EPA, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit invalidated the process USEPA used in promulgating its 2013 Vessel General Permit that sets that agency’s standards for discharges from merchant vessels under the federal Clean Water Act, also setting aside the VGP. Pursuant to the Court’s decision, EPA must completely re-do the regulatory process from the beginning, this time formulating a new VGP taking into account factors including: (1) EPA's previous decision to set the TBELs (Technology-based Effluent limitations) at the IMO (International Maritime Organization) Standard; (2) EPA's failure to consider onshore treatment for ballast water discharges; (3) EPA's decision to exempt pre–2009 Lakers from the TBELS in the 2013 VGP permit; (4) EPA's narrative standard for WQBELs (Water Quality-based Effluent Limitations) and (5) The monitoring and reporting requirements established by EPA for WQBELs.
It is critical to note that the Court also ruled that the 2013 VGP remains in effect until EPA issues a new VGP. As for the Coast Guard’s ballast water regulations, those were primarily promulgated under authority from Non-indigenous Aquatic Nuisance Prevention and Control Act of 1990 and the 1996 National Invasive Species Act (NISA), statutes separate in many respects from the Clean Water Act, and more closely focused on preventing the transport into the U.S. of harmful organisms such as zebra mussels, green crab and certain micro-organisms. That authority and the Coast Guard’s ballast water regulations were not ruled upon in this case.
EPA must choose between re-doing the VGP regulatory process or seeking Supreme Court review of the Second Circuit’s decision. Either way, long-standing issues will likely continue to be unresolved, or at the least unclear. These include the ambiguities between USEPA and USCG responsibilities regarding vessel discharges, the balancing process between TBELs and WQBELs, the problematic aspects of potentially requiring shore-based treatment of ballast water and – most of all – how U.S. environmental regulation can be effectively yet pragmatically be applied to the essentially global shipping industry.