Updated news on the Ballast Water Management Convention

Classification Societies, Environment, Regulatory — By on March 6, 2012 at 7:23 PM

Updated news on the Ballast Water Management Convention

MEPC 63, new USCG standards, Unitor BWMS recall from the market and the new California sewage water standard.

MEPC 63
The IMO Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) held its 63rd session from 27 February to 2 March 2012.

  1. There was general agreement that treated sewage in ballast tanks is a MARPOL Annex IV issue; grey water was not discussed in detail. The issue is expected to be addressed at the next MEPC in October. In the meanwhile, DNV recommends not fitting any connections from sewage or grey water to the ballast tanks onboard ships.
  2. The IACS proposal to issue certificates prior to the entry into force of the Ballast Water Management Convention (to save time) with a stamp stating that the certificate is only valid once the Convention enters into force received general support. DNV recommends that shipowners request these pre-certificates (together with approved BWM Plans and initial surveys for exchange) at their earliest convenience to avoid queuing up when the BWM Convention is fully ratified.
  3. A proposal for test facilities to have a shorter retention time when testing for type approval under the G8 Guidelines of the BWM Convention due to high water temperature was discussed and acknowledged. However it was decided that the guidelines need no amendments in this matter. DNV advises manufacturers and administrations to thoroughly document the reason for using shorter or longer holding times during land-based tests, and to submit these reasons to the IMO for transparency.
  4. The GESAMP-BWWG (an IMO expert group) submitted new methodology for applying for Basic and Final Approval that was accepted. DNV advises manufacturers and administrations to start using the new methodology at their earliest convenience.
  5. BWM Plans approved according to the old Resolution A.868 will still be valid until a new approval is required due to treatment systems installation or for any other reasons that may necessitate a reapproval of the BWM Plans.

New USCG standards
The USCG has announced that its new regulations will be published within one month from 24 February 2012. These regulations will be different from the USCG’s initial proposals.

DNV expects the deadline for the installation of a USCG type-approved system for ships built in 2012 to be extended from immediately to a year or two into the future. The implementation dates for phase 1 may also be postponed for a couple of years.

DNV will pursue equivalency of its type approvals with the USCG type-approval programme once the standards for such equivalency are known.

DNV reiterates its recommendation to shipowners to install type-approved treatment systems at their earliest convenience.

Unitor BWMS recall from the market
Unitor BWMS has been recalled from the market. The press release by Wilhelmsen Technical Solutions can be found here.

New California sewage water standard
The state of California has announced a no-discharge zone in its waters for sewage (irrespective of whether or not the sewage has been treated according to MARPOL Annex IV). However, the new regulations allow the discharge of excess sewage if the sewage tanks are full while the ship sails in Californian waters.

To ensure compliance with the new rules, shipowners are advised to do the following:

Before entering California waters

  • The ship’s blackwater holding tank must be fully discharged prior to entering California waters. A log to that regard must be kept.

While sailing in California waters

  • Never discharge blackwater as long as there is still available capacity in the blackwater holding tank
  • If the blackwater holding tank capacity is reached, only excess blackwater treated using a type-approved sewage treatment system may be discharged
  • The contents of the blackwater holding tank CANNOT be discharged while the ship is in California waters.
    More information can be found on the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) website.

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