The Ritz Herald
Sunil Sarangi, the founder of ECO MARINE, a Ballast Water Treatment Systems Design and Consultants’ Firm

The Necessity of Ballast Water and Its Treatment for Marine Ecology as Per BWM Convention

Ballast Water Management: Issues and Solutions

Published on October 14, 2019

Globalization and technological advances have been a major driving force for goods and people to move at a much faster pace and to reach far more distances locations as soon as possible. These days, about 90% of world trade is made by means of ships. As a result of human activities, plants, animals and other organisms are transported to new habitats with speed and efficiency. Therefore, ship-based marine pollution reached serious levels for the marine environment.

Actually, the movement of vessels around the world requires the intake of ballast water to give them a safe degree of stability when light. This disposal of water, when it takes place within ports and harbors is classed as a waste product. The ballast water that is disposed of may contain a variety of harmful substances, including in certain cases oil contaminants, non-native marine animals and plants, and disease-causing organisms in sewage-contaminated water. But the transfer of aquatic organisms through ships’ ballast water is one of the most important issues around the world. Aquatic organisms that are transported ships’ ballast water creating a negative effect on marine and coastal ecology has become a growing concern worldwide.

To work on this, the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) adopted the Ballast Water Management (BWM) Convention in 2004 in order to curb the number of invasive species spread by ships’ ballast water. Since that time, numerous sets of guidelines and major mandatory codes have been developed to address the complicated issue of validation and compliance testing for ballast water treatment.

Today, more than 70 ballast water management systems have received type approval from their respective administrations following the IMO guidance. Currently, nine BWMS have been approved by the United States following U.S. regulations, which were effective for new vessels on December 1, 2013. The BWM Convention entered into force on September 8, 2017, and the shipping industry continues its efforts to prepare marine vessels for adherence to it. The adoption of all the required Guidelines for the uniform implementation of the BWM Convention and the approval and certification of modern ballast water treatment technologies have removed the major barriers to the ratification of the instrument and a number of additional countries have indicated their intention to accede to this Convention in the near future. According to this Convention, ships are required to go along a timetable of implementation, to comply with the D1 or D2 standards.

Basically, the BWM Convention includes two performance standards for the discharge of ballast water: D1 and D2. The D1 standard concerns ballast water exchange, which must be undertaken within open ocean areas, >200nm from land and in seas >200m deep. Whereas, the D2 standard covers approved ballast water treatment systems. However, all new-build ships must meet the D2 (treatment) standard after 8 September 2017 as ballast water exchange (D1) is not considered an ideal method of ballast water management. Also, the Convention allows for certain vessels meeting specific conditions to be exempt from the BWM standards. However, gaining such an exemption is expected to be a high-risk process.

Today, as we know, there are several methods that have been developed over the period to treat Ballast water. The proper treatment of ballast water, as required by the IMO and the relevant authorities in the USA, actively removes kills or neutralizes organisms prior to discharge. Ballast water treatment differs from the older conventional process of ballast water exchange, which involves completely flushing the ballast water tanks while underway. The technologies used for treating ballast water are generally derived from municipal and other industrial applications, however, their use is constrained by key factors such as space, cost, and efficacy with respect to the IMO discharged ballast water standards. The main types of ballast water treatment technologies available in the market are:

  • Filtration Systems (physical)
  • Chemical Disinfection (oxidizing and non-oxidizing biocides)
  • Ultra-violet treatment
  • Deoxygenation treatment
  • Heat (thermal treatment)
  • Acoustic (cavitation treatment)
  • Electric pulse/pulse plasma systems
  • Magnetic Field Treatment

Though a typical ballast water treatment system onboard ships use two or more technologies together to ensure that the treated ballast water is of IMO standards.

There are currently 23 treatment systems homologated by the IMO to meet IMO-D2 standards. However, these systems cannot be applied to all ships due to the great limitations of space onboard and power and retrofitting capacities. In addition, the installation costs of these systems may reach $2-3 million. According to the IMO briefing, some delegations expressed concerns regarding the implementation of the BWM Convention due to lack of approved technologies, limited shipyard capacity, time availability and the costs involved.

While the litigation binding the use of ballast water treatment globally is under development by IMO and it is soon to be expected that every transport ship would be bound to have Ballast Water treatment installed to continue operation, Sunil Sarangi is a man who is committed to making oceans safe and ecologically protected since years. The founder of Eco Marine, a Ballast Water Treatment Systems Design and consultants’ firm, Mr. Sarangi is working to protect and control aquatic invasive species. Graduated in Marine Engineering from Birla Institute of Technology, India in 2004 followed by Master’s of Science in Ocean Engineering from Florida Institute of Technology at Florida in 2008, Mr. Sarangi has dedicated himself solely to minimize the negative effects of ships’ ballast water on marine and coastal ecology since 2005.

His expertise in Ballast Water treatment is very effective in providing the right solution has given him the opportunity to work with companies such as Echochlor and Nei-marine. Mr. Sunil Sarangi, as a project manager has been successful in delivering the world’s first cargo inerting and Ballast water treatment system. He, through his work experience, has shown the capacity of effectively handling the full project cycle, sales, manufacturing and project management in both the companies he has previously worked with as he delivered project worth $40 million dollars.

Several new technologies to ballast water on board ships are entering the market every month. But Mr. Sarangi’s experience with both Echochlor and Nei-marine has enabled him to focus upon developing cost-effective methods for reducing the spread of aquatic invasive species. It is the result of his hard work and concern that now the protection of the marine and coastal environment has become one of the most important ecological issues of modern times.

While ballast water is essential for safe and efficient modern shipping operations, it may pose serious ecological, economic and health problems due to the multitude of marine species carried in ships’ ballast water. Understanding the gravity, Mr. Sarangi’s efforts are parallel to the BWM Convention which came into force on 8 September 2017.

As we know, Oceans has kept people apart and brought them together as well. Life itself arose from the oceans. Not only has the oceans always been a prime source of nourishment for the life it helped generate, but from earliest recorded history it has served for trade and commerce, adventure and discovery. Since, prehistoric times, water transport has been used for carrying both men and goods. Waterway formed an easy means of travel in places where dense forests on land hindered movement. Today, the coasts of the world are vastly interconnected by extensive use of shipping routes. People like Sunil Sarangi are few in the world who on one hand, understands the necessity of ballast water for safe and efficient modern shipping operations and on the other hand, he is doing his bit to heel the serious ecological, economic and health problems due to the multitude of marine species carried in ships’ ballast water. Mr. Sarangi’s efforts, parallel to the BWM Convention are simply commendable and blessing for marine life.

Environmental Reporter