IMO BLG 16 - ballast water sampling update

As advised in last week’s Weekly News, the IMO’s BLG sub-Committee considered the important aspect of sampling and testing ballast water for port state control compliance purposes. The intent was to finalise guidelines on how and when to undertake such sampling and issue these as a circular. However, after extensive debate it was agreed that the sampling matter needed further consideration.

The aspect of sampling for compliance is a critical parameter of the IMO Ballast Water Convention with many states considering this aspect as the last hurdle before committing to ratification. This is particularly relevant to those countries with large tonnage as it is the tonnage factor that holds the Convention back from entering into force. Presently 33 countries have ratified representing 26.46% of the world’s tonnage. The Convention requires 30 states representing 35% of the world’s tonnage.

There are practical difficulties associated with the accurate sampling of ballast water to assess the functioning of the ballast water treatment system. These difficulties include ensuring the sample is representative of the ballast water in its entirety as well as dealing with the volumes of ballast water required. At the BLG meeting it was argued that the compliance sampling and testing had become detached from the initial type approval of the system. The concern is that a type approved system may not pass the sampling compliance test leaving the owner in a situation of uncertainty after investing in a new ballast water treatment system.

Moving forward, the sub-Committee has now requested further input on the sampling aspect from industry and governments to assist in overcoming the practical difficulties. INTERTANKO will work with its industry partners to make a submission to the next BLG meeting.

Contact: Tim Wilkins