MARTOB ballast team meets in Stockholm

The Europe-funded MARTOB ballast treatment project met last week in Sweden to review the initial results of the on-board trials which had taken place in the course of the summer. The meeting was divided between the offices of Alfa Laval in Tumba and Wallenius Marine in Stockholm.

Of particular significance were some of the results from tests which had taken place on board the Wallenius Marine vessels utilising heat and de-oxygenation as the primary treatment method.

There is still a great amount of analysis to be undertaken by the biologists, so no conclusive data has yet been produced. However, from the initial assessments, it was apparent that the concern lies more with the sampling and testing methodology than with the assessment of the effectiveness of the technology itself. For instance, the sampling pipes used required extensive flushing before control testing could begin. In some cases this flushing meant the flow through of over 16 tonnes of water before a neutral sample could be taken.

This raises some interesting questions with regard to the final implementation of the IMO Convention, which up until now has placed more emphasis on the standard for treatment than on the practical aspect of how the requirements (treatment standards) will be checked by the flag administration, port state and operator. On-board testing and sampling is a crucial part of the Convention and this project has raised some interesting problems in terms of practicality and the time required to fully assess the effectiveness of the treatment system.

As this is an EU-funded project it is vital that the Commission is aware of the work and its final results. A recent communication from the Commission, outlining its ‘Marine Strategy’ (see Weekly NEWS No. 42, 18 October 2002) refers to the possibility of regulating ballast water to reduce invasive species on a European scale. The MARTOB work will be vital in providing the Commission with independent and factual information on the current state of technology and the various other factors associated with the development of legislation to control the problem.

The MARTOB project is due to be completed at the end of this year. However, an extension is being sought to ensure that all the work can be completed and that the final reports are produced in a less technical form more akin to an executive briefing.

Contact: Tim Wilkins