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USCG’s firm stance on ballast water puts Optimarin at industry forefront

17 Dicember 2015 - The United States Coast Guard (USCG) is standing firm over its requirement that it will not approve ballast water treatment (BWT) systems if they fail to kill the potentially invasive marine organisms transported in ballast water. While this is bad news for most manufacturers of systems utilising ultraviolet (UV) irradiation – an environmentally friendly solution that uses no chemicals – it is good news for Norway’s Optimarin, which is now on the brink of full USCG approval.

In a statement released on 14 December, USCG said that it had informed a group of UV system manufacturers that it would not accept the Most Probable Number (MPN) testing method in its approval process. The MPN methodology evaluates organisms on the basis of ‘viable/unviable’, with most UV systems depositing ‘unviable’ organisms back into the water – meaning they are still alive but cannot reproduce. However, USCG is insisting that its FDA/CMFDA test, which judges life forms as ‘living/dead’, must be the standard for approval.

This approval is imperative for any shipowner that wants to discharge ballast in US waters after 1 January 2016. “This is a clear indication to the industry that USCG wants absolute certainty with regard to standards – they do not want living organisms deposited in their territory,” comments Tore Andersen, Optimarin’s CEO. “MPN is acceptable for IMO, but that won’t be any consolation to shipowners with global fleets that want the flexibility of sailing in and out of US waters.”

He continues: “USCG is currently accepting Alternate Management Systems (AMS), whereby vessels with systems already approved by another flag state can discharge ballast in US waters, but these will only be accepted for a period of five years after the vessel’s compliance date. At that point, if they haven’t met the USCG’s own ‘instant kill’ standard, they will have to be changed.

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