Full Compliance for Ballast Water: InTank is a Robust Solution


Published May 7, 2024 6:18 PM by Scienco/FAST

The world of ballast water management is about to enter a new phase. The days of proactive owners installing BWMS ahead of schedule ended in 2019, now the much-delayed five-year installation schedule is about to finish. The fleet is almost fully installed with BWTS; focus will shift towards compliance. The question is, will compliance simply mean paperwork when a certified BWMS is installed? Or will regulators occasionally assess the discharge against the standards listed by the IMO and US? Both are required.

IMO has issued verification criteria for handheld indicative analyzers which port state control inspectors can use. USCG noted in their 2023 Annual Report that their Enhanced Examination Program will include ballast water “in the coming year” and the Paris MOU is expecting to focus on ballast compliance in 2025. While the vast majority of discharges will not be assessed for compliance, it is likely today’s carte blanche will be getting decidedly more gray.

Discharge compliance brings, oddly, a new variable to the decision of which BWMS to install. Not only should the certification, price and installation practicalities be accounted for but also the likelihood of the BWMS providing discharge compliance in the waters the vessel is trading in. These waters could be very different to the waters the vessel traded in when the system was installed or that the system was tested in when it was certified. Testing criteria provide a moderate challenge to a BWMS but natural environments often provide more challenge than tested (check the testing parameters for your BWMS).

With little information available on the ability of systems to provide reliable discharge compliance (the recent Outenin et al study listed discharge/tank compliance at only 40% from 172 samples), how should an owner assess a BWMS? This comes down to the fundamentals: is the equipment robust, is the type of water treatment robust, can the system adapt to a wide variety of conditions, and can it give control over compliance to the ship and not to the environment the ship is in?

Fundamentally, the InTank BWMS manufactured by Scienco/FAST is very strong both operationally and from a treatment/compliance point of view. Filterless (a major BWMS weak point removed. and treating at sea, InTank allows the vessel to complete all of its in-port operations as normal, no matter the water quality and without crew, power or other resources being diverted to BWM. Treatment is completed using a small circulation from each ballast tank to dose ballast using sodium hypochlorite which is either generated on board or from bulk storage. Using the Concentration Time treatment metric, ballast can be automatically re-dosed to ensure complete treatment is always achieved, however difficult the ballast may be.

The system records full treatment and, crucially, full neutralization in the tank before discharge. This pre-discharge record of compliance is very important, SGS, a noted testing company, has published results where over 80% of TRO discharges are much too high and vessels are chlorinating the bay as they discharge ballast. Again, discharge quality has been carte blanche for many years, but the objectives of the ballast rules are to achieve environmental protection through application of the discharge standards, not to have a certificate on file.

The coming compliance assessments will put a spotlight on the fundamental ability of a BWMS to achieve discharge compliance. It is a task that InTank / InTank FITT excels at. Already installed on vessels from PSVs to VLCCs, with a unique “superpower” for semi-submersible vessels and barges, InTank provides the most confidence for compliance with the least impact on operations.

For more information, visit https://www.intankballast.com or contact Giles Candy, Executive Business Development – Ballast Water Division at Scienco/FAST, at [email protected].

The opinions expressed herein are the author's and not necessarily those of The Maritime Executive.