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Keep up with the trend from our most read stories on Ballast water treatment technology in 2022, in 2023, as the looming compliance deadlines receded and the industry moved on, some of the daunting logistics that still had to be overcome to meet compliance remained. US ships fall short of Clean Water Act, EPA disputes implications of its Vessel Accidental Discharge Act (VIDA), IMO makes slow, if incomplete, progress on MEPC80 water quality issues, while a group of scientists outlines “last ballast water compliance steps.

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1. Vessels fined for violations of the US Clean Water Act

Two shipping companies, Swire Shipping and MMS, have agreed with the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to settle claims for violating the agency’s general vessel permit, which falls under the EPA’s Clean Water Act.

The agreements include heavy penalties imposed on companies for failure to comply with specific regulations related to ballast water discharge, inspection procedures, monitoring protocols and timely reporting.

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2. BWMS: what seafarers want

In a study conducted by Mevlüt Yılmaz as part of a master’s thesis supervised by Ceren Bilgin Güney at Istanbul Technical University in Turkey, clear parameters for an ideal ballast water management system (BWMS) were determined based on seafarers’ experiences. Mr. Yilmaz’s study evaluated the experience of 50 experienced seafarers (24 deck personnel and 26 engine personnel) working in a Turkish shipping company on tankers equipped with UV and electrochemical BWMS.

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3. MEPC 80: ballast water results

While there were hopes left unresolved for solid progress on the challenging water quality issue, there was agreement and acceptance of other ballast water issues at the 80th meeting of the IMO Marine Environment Protection Committee in London in July 2023. According to the review of the Ballast Water Management Convention process, various elements have been added or improved to make the convention more manageable.

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4. EPA Proposes Continuation of Existing Digital Discharge Standards

The training vessel Golden Bear is part of Cal Maritime's BWMS test facility (source: Cal Maritime)

The US Environmental Protection Agency has issued a notice on the Vessel Accidental Discharge Act (VIDA) that explains the thinking behind rulemaking for national performance standards for marine pollution control devices.

The Supplemental Notice of Proposed Rulemaking explains the processes and analysis undertaken by EPA prior to rulemaking to implement VIDA obligations. It was the subject of some controversy, being two years late and the subject of threatened legal action from the US Center for Biological Diversity and Friends of the Earth.

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5. Ballast water compliance possible: final steps

At MEPC 80, the lack of “approved methods of sampling and analysis that can be used in a PSC context” was noted and SGS Marine Field Services & Monitoring believes that clarification would be useful as this idea could be misunderstood if taken out of context.

Detailed sampling and analysis procedures for the sole purpose of compliance testing during Port State Control inspections have not been developed at this time. Furthermore, existing IMO references to ‘trial use’ are limited (eg Guidelines G2 and BWM.2/Circ.42/Rev.2) and may need to be revised in the light of lessons learned so far.

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