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Industry associations concerned over lack of clarity on BWTS approvals

Industry associations concerned over lack of clarity on BWTS approvals
With the Ballast Water Management (BWM) Convention set to come into force on 8 September 2017 industry associations have expressed deep concerns that owners will fit expenive equipment which may not meet more stringent US standards.

While the fact there is now a set date for implementation that shipowners can now plan for the question as to which Ballast Water Treatment Systems (BWTS) will allow global trading in the long remains up in the air with the US not a party to the convention.

“Bimco is deeply concerned about the prospect of our members having to install treatment systems now which later may not be approved for use in US waters. This is because the US has not yet approved treatment systems that comply to its own, more stringent, national standards,” said Lars Robert Pederson, deputy secretary general of Bimco.

“Shipping will have to invest significantly in the installation of ballast water treatment systems by next September – only to find the investment is wasted if their system does not meet US standards.”

These concerns were echoed by Esben Poulsson chairman of ICS. “The fixing of a definite implementation date, after so many years of delay, will at least gives shipowners some of the certainty needed to make important decisions about whether to refit the new mandatory treatment equipment or otherwise to start sending ships for early recycling,” he said.

“Unfortunately, the entry into force of the new IMO regime will not resolve the extreme difficulties that still exist in the United States.” 

At present the US Coast Guard (USCG) has not approved any systems, however, ships are allowed to install systems with Alternate Management System (AMS). The AMS is only valid for five years and there is guarantee that systems with AMS will be granted full approval the by the USCG. This puts shipowners in the position of having to invest $1 - 5m in system that they may have to replace in five years time.

Joe Angelo, deputy managing director of Intertanko stated: “If the chosen system does not obtain USCG approval, it will have to be replaced within five years in order to continue to trade to the US.

“A shipowner, who in good faith wants to comply with international and national ballast water management requirements, therefore faces an unacceptable position of having to possibly invest twice in a BWTS through no fault of his or her own.”