Aquacide (USA),a marine ballast technology company, has developed a ballast water treatment system to combat Invasive Species. The company is closely following the relevant U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) regulations and advises that USCG has published a Final Rule, effective 27 September 2004, titled Mandatory Ballast Water Management Program for U.S. Waters. This major step forward in the Invasive Species program will result in mandatory ballast water treatment that leads to the stated goal of Zero Discharge. It will ultimately be a violation of U.S. law to discharge ballast that contains living organisms defined as invasive into U.S. waters.
While this Rule is just the first step and merely addresses ballast water exchange at sea, the regulatory process is detailed and requires extensive record keeping. Failure to comply with the provisions of the Regulations will result in penalties. Shippers will be well advised to ensure that their crews are informed of the details of the Regulations and are in compliance. At the same time, since mandatory treatment leading to Zero Discharge is inevitable, it is not too soon for a shipper to think about which ballast water treatment system is best for his fleet.
A further indicator is the activity of the U.S. Congress conducting hearings were Aquacide, among other interested parties, testified on the Reauthorization Bill for the National Invasive Species Act. Members indicated that early action will be the order of the day when the new Congress convenes. Interim Standards were brought up by Members during the hearings and are included in the draft legislation. The Coast Guard is also addressing them as part of the regulatory process. Interims are necessary because lessons will be learned at each step, even, for example, from the modest initial mandatory Ballast Water Exchange standard. Further, new threats will be discovered and treatment technology will have to cope with these new invaders, perhaps at an accelerated pace. Regardless of how one looks at it, ever tightening treatment standards are inevitable.
Aquacide can provide information on treatment technology as well as documentation, details, and background of the Coast Guard action, the IMO proceedings, and Congressional activity.