Bulk carrier operators face challenges in meeting IMO’s Ballast Water Management Convention (BWMC), their industry organisation Intercargo has warned.
In a statement released yesterday (16 May), it said that these challenges “concern retrofitting [ballast water management systems (BWMSs)] on those vessels that use gravity discharged top side tanks.”
Among its concerns are worries about the availability of systems approved by the United States Coast Guard (USCG) and its statement called for “a more flexible and pragmatic transition from the first USCG-approved BWMS being disclosed in December 2016 until more proficient technologies and approved systems are made available.”
It also wants action by IMO and has submitted a paper to IMO’s Marine Environment Protection Committee meeting in July (MEPC 71) calling for an amendment to Regulation B-3 of the BWMC. Its submission has been prepared jointly with the ship management organisation InterManager.
BWTT has seen that paper, which is not yet publicly available from IMO. Its proposed amendment would allow bulk carriers constructed before 8 September 2017 to meet Regulation B-3’s requirements by conducting “two sequential Regulation D-1 ballast water exchanges” for its top side tanks, rather than treating the water as set out in Regulation D-2. The remaining ballast water would be treated by a BWMS, the paper proposes.
Intercargo has also submitted a supporting paper of its own, outlining other challenges – such as additional electrical powering requirements and availability of space – that it says are faced by the bulk carrier industry.
BWTT has also seen that submission, which mirrors closely an article that Intercargo published on its website on 25 April titled BWM legislation implementation: Possibilities and impossibilities. That article does not mention its views on USCG system availability, focusing instead on the technical difficulties of installing BWMSs on existing bulk carriers.
Top side tanks are typically filled from the fire main, not from the ballast line and are discharged directly overboard, the paper points out, “which is incompatible with the requirements for the obligatory discharge monitoring and secondary discharge treatment.”
Powering requirements are also addressed in the article. Since many bulk carriers are geared, they use electrical power at the same time that ballast treatment would be taking place. “It is important to appreciate that for the existing fleet there is little or no spare available power to run a BWMS,” the article reports. “For these vessels, cargo operations will need to cease during ballasting or de-ballasting, or a major upgrade of the onboard power generation would be required.”
But any reduction in cargo discharging speed “could lead to failure to meet contractual requirements,” Intercargo’s article says.