ICS airs concerns over ballast water management convention
(Aug 3 2012)
The International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) has called on the IMO to address critical issues concerning the imminent implementation of the Ballast Water Management (BWM) Convention.
Despite delays by governments with respect to ratification, the 2004 BWM Convention is expected to enter into force within the next two years.
ICS director of regulatory affairs, David Tongue, explained: “Shipping companies represented by our member national associations have serious concerns about the availability of suitable ballast water treatment equipment, the robustness of the type approval process and, above all, the difficulties of retrofitting tens of thousands of existing ships within the time frame established by the BWM Convention.”
In a submission to the IMO’s Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC), which meets in October, ICS has requested that the issue of fixed dates for the retrofitting of expensive new equipment by large numbers of ships, perhaps as many as 60,000, needs to be addressed urgently. ICS said that a serious discussion is needed at IMO before the Convention enters into force.
In particular, in view of the bottlenecks that will be created when the Convention enters in force, with many ships having to be retrofitted either before their next special survey, or their next intermediate survey, ICS has proposed that the IMO should modify the BWM Convention’s requirements so that existing ships should not be required to be retrofitted with treatment equipment until their next full special survey.
In view of the pressures on shipyards that will need to fit the equipment, this would smooth out implementation over a five-year timeline around the date of entry into force of the Convention, rather than two, or three years, as at present.
Moreover, in order to make it possible for other ships to be retrofitted within the required time frame, ICS has proposed that ships approaching their fourth special survey should be exempted from the equipment requirements.
Tongue added: “Given that the costs of fitting the treatment equipment may be in the order of $1 to $5 mill a ship, it does not make economic sense for older ships approaching the end of their lives to incur this huge expenditure. However, the impact on the environment of exempting them would be negligible since these ships will still be required to perform deep water ballast exchange at sea for the two, or three remaining years that most of them will continue to operate.”
In the event that IMO does not accept the suggestion that ships should not be required to retrofit until their next five-year renewal survey, ICS suggested that ships over 18 years old should be exempted from the equipment requirements.
In practice, changes to the BWM Convention cannot be adopted until after it enters into force, but given the importance of ensuring smooth implementation ICS saw no reason why IMO cannot agree provisional changes with respect to detailed implementation in advance.
In a separate submission, ICS has requested that IMO considers modifying its current draft guidelines for type approval of equipment and for ballast water sampling and analysis that will be used by port state control, so that as far as possible they are comparable with those recently adopted by the US.
Tongue said: “A large proportion of the fleet will have to comply with the US requirements, which cannot be changed. For the sake of global uniformity we think it would be helpful if the relevant IMO Guidelines can be modified.”
A most important consideration, according to ICS, is that the US standards for type approval of equipment, under its Environmental Verification Program, are far more robust than the IMO equivalent.
Some of the equipment, already approved in line with original IMO standards, has already had to be withdrawn because it has been demonstrated not to deliver the agreed IMO ‘kill standard’ for removing unwanted marine micro-organisms.
The International Chamber of Shipping,
Drought fears for Midlands and south-west England
The Midlands and south-west England are at risk of slipping into drought status, the Environment Agency warns.The government agency expects drought to spread west across the country following the recent dry weather.
It comes amid reports that rivers are at their lowest levels since 1976, with a severe lack of rainfall not seen since the drought of 1921.
From Thursday, hosepipe bans are due to come into force in parts of south-east England and East Anglia.
Those areas are already officially in drought, while that status was declared in South and East Yorkshire earlier this week.
Two years of lower-than-average winter rainfall has meant rivers across the country have not been replenished.
The past week's hot weather saw 1mm or less fall across the whole country, the Environment Agency said in its latest Drought Management Briefing on Friday.
"Without substantial rainfall, the risk of drought could spread to parts of the West Midlands and south-west England," a spokesman said.
Streams 'drying' "It's important that we all use water wisely and use less of it. The amount we use at home and in our businesses has a direct affect on the amount of water available in rivers and for wildlife."
East Anglia saw two-thirds of the normal rainfall for March, with most falling in the first week. Wales had just 27% of its average monthly rainfall.
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Water saving tips
- Turn off taps while brushing teeth, shaving or washing
- Reuse bath water for house plants or the garden
- Collect water for plants while waiting for water to run hot
- Store water in a fridge to avoid running taps for cool water
- Wash fruit and vegetables in a bowl instead of under a tap
- Wash cars using a bucket, or just keep headlights, mirrors and windows clean
Most areas received less than half the long-term projections for average rain.Two-thirds of rivers are at an "exceptionally" low level, while all rivers are experiencing below-normal flows.
The agency said small streams and ponds were drying up in Yorkshire, Oxfordshire and Herefordshire, affecting wildlife and fish.
Farmers in East Anglia are unlikely to be allowed to draw water from the ground or rivers to irrigate crops. Some are reporting crop reductions of between 20-50%, in vegetables like onions and carrots.
Extra capacity is being found in other areas of the country.
Environment Agency water resources head Trevor Bishop told BBC Radio 4's Today programme the situation was becoming more serious.
"If we see a continuation of dry weather, which is now very likely, these conditions will probably extend further westward over the next couple of months.
Infrastructure investment "Our rivers are really important, but also the water is needed for our businesses, people, the economy and for farmers. It's all very reliant on the winter rainfalls, to replenish the natural resources.
"For two years in a row, that simply hasn't happened at sufficient levels."
In recent months, the agency has had to move fish from where river levels are lowest.
Despite the drought, Mr Bishop said water companies were investing in reservoirs, desalination plants and schemes to move water around the country.
Water companies in England and Wales leaked more than 3.3bn litres a day in 2010/11, according to the regulator Ofwat.
Demand for water stands at around 17bn litres a day, according to industry body Water UK.