Ballast Water Management & Treatment Take Center Stage

Thursday, September 21, 2000
While ballast water environmental issues have been news for decades, a renewed focus on the marine industry, specifically the effects ships and boats have on the aquatic environment, is picking up steam and not looking to slowdown. Per an executive order from President Clinton, the U.S. Invasive Species Council is finally getting off the ground, a council which will study the problem and make recommendations regarding treatment. A recent report from the General Accounting Office (GAO-RCED-00-219) found that the U.S. federal goverment spent $513 million in FY ‘99 and will spend $631 million in FY ‘00 for activities related to invasive species. Tack on an additional $232 million spent by seven individual states in FY ‘00 combatting the problem, and it is easy to surmise that the Invasive Species issues are barrelling towards $1 billion+ per year. Table 1, excerpted from a paper presented by Michael T. Bohlman, director of marine services, CSX Lines, details some of the more notable invasive species problems.

According to the International Maritime Organization (IMO), there is an estimated annual transfer of nearly 10 billion tons of ballast water, carrying an estimated 3,000 species daily. In the Great Lakes alone, it is estimated that zebra mussel has already caused more than $5 billion in damage to water pipes, boat hulls and other surfaces. While there is no concrete answer to the problem, a number of solutions have been considered and proposed, including the exchange of ballast water in the Ocean, as well as the us of filtration methods, including thermal, chemical and radiation treatments.

This past August, funding from grants made by the State of Maryland Port Administration and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) will support the rigorous testing of the patent pending Ballast Water Treatment System from Maritime Solutions Inc. The funding exceeds $650,000 and will support a larger public/private sector initiative to test the Maritime Solutions' treatment system.

Maritime Solutions, working in cooperation with the University of Maryland, has additionally won the support of the U.S. Maritime Administration (MarAd), which will allow the testing program to take place aboard the 39,000-dwt Cape May, a U.S. Ready Reserve fleet ship. The ship will provide for realistic shipboard testing of the Maritime Solutions' treatment system utilizing its ballast system while taking water from the Chesapeake Bay. The Maritime Solutions' Ballast Water Treatment System consists of two stages: a first stage patented "voraxial" separator manufactured by Enviro Voraxial Technology, Inc. of Deerfield Beach, Fla., and a second stage treatment of ultraviolet irradiation (UV) manufactured by Aquionics, Inc. located in Erlanger, Ky. or, alternatively, the chemical biocide 'SEAKLEEN,' developed by Garnett, Inc. of Watkinsville, Ga.

Maritime Solutions believes that UV irradiation is the secondary treatment of choice for container vessels, passenger ships, and certain other merchant and combatant vessels with ballast flow rate requirements up to 2,000 tons-per-hour. For larger merchant vessels including tankers, bulk carriers, and OBOs with ballast flow rate requirements between 2,000 and 20,000 tons-per-hour, Maritime Solutions believes that the biocide 'SEAKLEEN' would offer a more economical and effective treatment. The biocide will be introduced into the ballast water flow utilizing a chemical dosing unit provided by one of the world's leading marine chemical distributors.

The uniqueness of the Maritime Solutions' ballast water system centers on the inclusion of the EVTN separator as the first stage where more than 95 percent of the silt, sediment and larger marine organisms are removed and returned to the source water. The 'clean' water is then treated in the secondary stage, where 'residence time' is significantly reduced due to the pre-cleaning of the water, with UV or SEAKLEEN. UV technology for eradicating unwanted organisms and viruses has been well established, however, in order to ensure an even higher 'kill' rate, Maritime Solutions, working with the University of Maryland and Aquionics, has specified a UV system specifically designed for ballast water treatment. Combining the advantages of the EVTN separator and the specified UV system, a 'kill' rate approaching 99 percent is envisioned. The biocide 'SEAKLEEN,' patent pending, is a proprietary, natural product specifically formulated for ballast water use and has a half-life of 14 - 17 hours. As a result of the pre-cleaning provided by the EVTN separator, dosage approaching 1 PPM will be sufficient to produce an effective 'kill' rate approaching 99 percent. Once tested and accepted for use by the U.S. Coast Guard as an approved alternative to ballast exchange, Maritime Solutions will begin offering its system to the shipping industry. Application will also be made to the International Maritime Organization (IMO) for approval as an accepted alternative to ballast exchange.

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