Industry seeks practical implementation of ballast water rule at IMO

In an effort to ensure the smooth implementation of the International Ballast Water Convention, adopted in February this year, the IMO has tasked its long-established working group on ballast water to complete key guidelines in the next two weeks.

With the Convention’s first deadline in 2009, the IMO’s Working Group on Ballast Water (BWWG) began work this week and will continue through next week’s MEPC 52 meeting. INTERTANKO has already submitted comments on the draft guidelines during the inter-sessional stage and was active during this week’s deliberations.

The significance of the guidelines is emphasised by the time-line in which many of them need to be completed. Under the requirements of the Convention, the IMO must evaluate whether or not the technology exists to allow the industry to comply with the requirements. If the technology does not exist to allow operators to meet the 2009 deadline, then a re-evaluation of the time-line will be made. However, even before the technology can be considered, clear guidance must be given to the IMO on how to evaluate the current state of art in treatment technology.

Further sets of guidelines which need to be completed include those required for a risk assessment in cases where a ship requires exemption from the ballast water management requirements; guidelines for the approval of the use of chemicals (active substances) in treatment systems; guidelines for the approval of prototype ballast treatment equipment. In the latter case, owners wishing to install test prototype systems must evaluate their equipment against these guidelines and ensure that the exemption clause within the Convention applies.

The Working group will continue next week during MEPC and maintain a Correspondence Group status in order to complete the remaining guidelines for further deliberation at MEPC 53 in July 2005.

Contact: Tim Wilkins