Undercurrents: beneath the obvious

April 24, 2007

‘Clean Up the Ballast’ Campaign underway

From News 10 Now (Central New York):

… Save the River is kicking off its “Clean Up Ballast” Campaign.  Save the River and Great Lakes United are calling for an immediate moratorium on ocean-going ships entering the Seaway. The environmental groups say the goal of the campaign is to stop invasive species from entering the waterways.

Administrator of the St. Lawrence Development Corp says, “The proposal to close the Seaway to ocean going vessels would be impossible to implement under existing international law, devastating to the economy of the Great Lakes region, and ineffective in solving the problem of invasive species. The Seaway is working actively with Great Lakes United, The Save the River, and the maritime industry to achieve a real solution – passage of federal ballast water legislation this year.”

Federal ballast water legislation would not be enough considering that Canada also borders the lakes. It’s hard to understand where this initiative is going considering the quote from the St. Lawrence Development Corp — any change to existing behavior would appear to be devastating to the economy of the Great Lakes region.

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March 12, 2007

Michigan issues first ballast water permits

Filed under: Ballast,Great Lakes News,Great Lakes Threats,Michigan — nemo @ 12:05 pm

The Times Herald (Port Huron, MI) carries this report on the first issuance of permits to international shipping compaines for ballast water handling per the Michigan law that went into affect January 1:

The state Department of Environmental Quality has issued its first permits to international shipping companies that have agreed to meet new ballast-water requirements.

By buying the permit, owners of the ships agree not to dump ballast water in the Great Lakes or use a state-approved method to clean the water before flushing it into the lakes.

One of the first of two companies to apply for the state permit was NaviBulgar-Smolyan, a Bulgarian shipping company. The company’s ships will be able to move through Michigan ports with ease when the St. Lawrence Seaway opens sometime this month.

The Michigan bill mandates that all ships with ballast tanks that have floated on salt water and then expect to use Michigan ports must either keep their ballast onboard or use a state-approved method to treat the aquatic life in outgoing water.

See also this prior post: Michigan ballast water law takes maiden voyage

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February 20, 2007

Agencies unite to end discharge of ballast

Filed under: Ballast,Great Lakes Issues,Great Lakes News — nemo @ 1:44 pm

The Cheboygan Tribune carries this news item regarding ongoing review of ballast regulations:

Several federal agencies will combine to help clean up Great Lakes waterways through new laws against ships discharging ballast water.

The Coast Guard will work with the Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, or APHIS, in the continued development of new federal regulations on ballast water discharge standards.

APHIS joins a federal partnership that also includes the Environmental Protection Agency, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, all of which are contributing technical expertise to the Coast Guard-led federal rule-making.

The rule-making is intended to spur vessels to use a variety of ballast water treatment technologies to prevent the introduction and spread of aquatic non-indigenous species, such as viral hemorrhagic septicemia.

As part of the rule-making process, the Coast Guard is evaluating the environmental impacts of setting a ballast water discharge standard.

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December 28, 2006

Michigan ballast water law takes maiden voyage — update

Filed under: Ballast,Great Lakes News,Michigan — nemo @ 9:23 am

Business North (upper Minnesota and Wisconsin) Online reports:

On January 1, Michigan Senate Bill 332 goes into effect.

The Michigan bill mandates that all ships with ballast tanks that have floated on salt water and then expect to use Michigan ports must either keep their ballast onboard or use a state-approved method to treat the aquatic life in outgoing water.

The Detroit News provides this update:

But as of Wednesday [12/27], not a single ship owner or operator has applied for a permit, and shipping officials said it’s possible none will. Rather than spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on ballast treatment technology they say hasn’t yet been approved by the U.S. Coast Guard or International Maritime Organization, ships will just go to other nearby ports in Windsor or Toledo and avoid Michigan ports altogether.

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December 22, 2006

European invader (shrimp) found in the Muskegon Lake Channel

Filed under: Ballast,Great Lakes News,Invasive Species,Michigan — nemo @ 2:37 pm

The Muskegon Chronicle reports on the latest invasive species to be spotted:

A species of shrimp previously found only in the seas of eastern Europe has now been discovered half a world away — in the Muskegon Lake Channel.

Thousands of bloody red mysid, Hemimysis anomala, were discovered in the channel in November. It is the most recent addition to a list of Great Lakes invader species that now numbers more than 180.

Researchers at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Lake Michigan Field Station who found swarms of bloody red mysid said the half-inch-long shrimp were likely imported to the Great Lakes in the ballast water of an oceangoing freighter.

Scientists said the discovery was unsettling for two reasons: It again demonstrated that exotic species are still entering the Great Lakes; and the imported shrimp may compete with fish for zooplankton, a microscopic source of food.

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December 21, 2006

Michigan ballast water law takes maiden voyage; has legal implications for other states

Filed under: Ballast,Great Lakes News,Michigan — nemo @ 1:09 pm

Business North (upper Minnesota and Wisconsin) Online reports:

On January 1, Michigan Senate Bill 332 goes into effect.

The Michigan bill mandates that all ships with ballast tanks that have floated on salt water and then expect to use Michigan ports must either keep their ballast onboard or use a state-approved method to treat the aquatic life in outgoing water.

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December 11, 2006

“No Ballast on Board” does not mean “No Organisms on Board”

Filed under: Ballast,Invasive Species — nemo @ 4:59 pm

A NOAA / University of Michigan study released in May 2005 found that:

While carrying goods and raw materials to the Great Lakes, international ships, even though fully loaded with cargo and not carrying pumpable ballast water (no ballast on board or “NOBOB”), still carry aquatic species that can be released into the lakes, … .

NOBOB ships are loaded to capacity with cargo and carry no declarable ballast water on board. However, once they unload their cargo, they take on Great Lakes water for stability. If they then load cargo at another Great Lakes port, they must discharge the ballast water, which now is a mix of Great Lakes water and residual foreign water and sediment and the organisms therein.

About 90 percent of the saltwater ships entering the Great Lakes are NOBOB vessels and are not covered by the ballast water exchange regulations implemented in 1993 by the U.S. Coast Guard. The exchange system requires ships to replace pumpable ballast water at sea with open-ocean water.

It seems from this study that requiring ballast exchanges before international ships can enter the Great Lakes basin can have little to no affect preventing the introduction into the basin of invasive species.

Source: NO Ballast ON Board Final Report(pdf)

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November 30, 2006

Upgraded aircraft capable of tracking night time tanker spills to be unveiled

Filed under: Ballast,Canada — nemo @ 9:06 pm

Oil Week Magazine (Canada) carries this story on the deployment of a surveillance aircraft capable of tracking tankers that dump their waste into the ocean in the dead of night.

A Dash 8 was retrofitted with several sensors, including a side-looking airborne radar and an ultraviolet infrared line scanner, designed to analyze various spills and identify ships in dim light.

“The biggest benefit for us is that it can see at night and it can see under low cloud cover, and those are very important because we suspect, of course, that a lot of it happens in the cover of night,‘‘ the source said.

“It‘s like anything. If you know the cops are on the road on the long weekend, you‘re not going to speed.‘‘

The upgraded plane will patrol the Atlantic region as well as the Great Lakes, the source said.

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