USCG rejects appeals against BWTS test ruling

Jul 15 2016

The US Coast Guard (USCG) has firmly rejected appeals from four ballast water treatment systems (BWTS) manufacturers to use alternative test methods.

The case goes back to 14th December last year when the USCG Marine Safety Center (MSC) denied requests from the four companies to use an alternative testing method for type approval of their ultra-violet (UV) based BWMS.

All four appealed the MSC’s decision and requested that the USCG consider an ‘most probable number’ (MPN)-based method as equivalent to the required testing procedure. On Tuesday of this week, the USCG issued final agency action denying these appeals.

The four UV manufacturers used the MPN test approach method, an alternative method that evaluates the likelihood of reproduction among organisms. The initial MSC review concluded that the requested MPN test method did not meet the requirements for an alternative method stipulated in the regulation.

In making its decision, the USCG said that it reviewed over 20,000 pages of material submitted in the appeals. It also reviewed an independent analysis of the proposed MPN-based method, prepared by the Naval Research Laboratory, which concluded that the proposed alternative is not equivalent to the requirements.

The use of an MPN-based method to evaluate mixed assemblages of organisms in ballast water is being considered by the US Environmental Protection Agency’s Environmental Technology Verification (ETV) technical panel. They have not yet reached a decision, the USCG said.

If the panel finds an MPN method to be acceptable, the new version of the ETV protocol will need to be incorporated by reference into the USCG’s regulations with a new rule making, via the public notice and comment process.

The USCG claimed that this decision was not a denial of UV systems or of MPN; it is a denial of the proposed alternative testing method by four UV system manufacturers. There are several UV-based BWMS currently going through US type approval testing under the required procedures.

This denial has no immediate impact on shipping. UV systems are still accepted for use by the USCG as Alternate Management Systems (AMS). US regulations allow ships to use AMS for five years from their compliance date. Shipowners and operators can also still continue to apply for, and receive, extensions to their compliance dates.

DESMI Ocean Guard, one of the BWTS manufactures involved in the appeal, said a test programme for its RayClean system has already been launched in order to demonstrate compliance with the FDA test method accepted by the USCG.

DESMI has decided to undertake the testing again with the FDA method accepted by the USCG. The ongoing test programme is taking place at DHI in Denmark and should be finalised later this year.

“Although we do not agree with the decision of the USCG, we of course respect the authority of the USCG. We will continue to work on having the MPN method accepted, also in the US as it is everywhere else in the world, but in the meantime we must, for the sake of our customers, ensure USCG type approval of the RayClean system,” said Rasmus Folsø, DESMI Ocean Guard CEO.

“We will therefore perform the required additional testing with the FDA method to demonstrate compliance with the USCG rules. These tests have been planned and prepared during the spring and are now ongoing at DHI test facility in Denmark. We expect to finalise the land-based testing this Autumn aiming for USCG type approval of the RayClean system late 2016,” he said.

Meanwhile the USCG has also announced that it has revised the AMS programme by further extending the current five year ‘extended compliance date’ for ships fitted with an AMS.

An installed AMS can be used for additional five years from the ‘extended compliance date’ provided it is  installed prior to the expiration of the vessel’s extended compliance date. 

Previous: 2020 sulphur cap report gives clear signal

Next: Unipec continues to top the fixing charts

Aug-Sept 2022

MEPC78 and tankers - AET - ESG reporting - Tanker Operator Athens report: SIRE 2.0 and seafarer shortage - electric propulsion on tankers