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Rasmus Folsø: Choice of Ballast Water Treatment Systems remain a minefield for shipowners

Significant uncertainties are still unresolved, but important clarifications await in the coming months.

In a recent interview with Danish media Shippingwatch the CEO of DESMI Ocean Guard A/S, Rasmus Folsø, comments on the uncertainties which makes choice of ballast water treatment system such a risky business - “Possible acceptance of the MPN method by the US authorities in the near future combined with possible postponement of IMO compliance dates makes it hard for shipowners to make good decisions about when and what to retrofit”.  
US Coast Guard type approvals
The US Coast Guard rejection of the MPN-Method was a considerable setback for UV based ballast water treatment, as well as the world’s marine eco-systems, but as new US legislation is closing in on its final adoption, the situation is set for a remarkable change.
In a near future, and maybe already in the spring of 2017, the US congress may be adopting a legislative package called VIDA (Vessel Incidental Discharge Act), which, amongst other things, instructs the USCG to accept the MPN-method - ultimately paving the way for DESMI Ocean Guard’s RayClean™ system and other Eco-friendly UV-based systems.
The earlier rejection of the MPN-method by the US Coast Guard have stirred up confusion and uncertainty with the ship-owners. This due to the fact that the method so far accepted by the USCG, the FDA method, lead to some significant limitations on the operation of UV systems. The two systems approved so far by the USCG are only approved for operation in clear and transparent water, and a minimum of 3 days have to pass between ballast water uptake and discharge. These are for many shipowners unacceptable operational limitations.
“Instead of giving in to the current US Coast Guard regulations and work on retesting our system according to the FDA-method, we have decided to stand our ground instead of compromising our eco-effective UV solution. Especially as we now see movement towards accepting the MPN-method in the US Congress.” Says Rasmus Folsø, CEO of DESMI Ocean Guard.
Postponement of IMO compliance dates
In addition to the uncertainty regarding USCG acceptance of the MPN-method, Rasmus Folsø thinks, that the compliance dates in the IMO Ballast Water Convention may be facing a postponement.
The IMO Convention will enter into force in September 2017, but several flag states and NGO’s have proposed postponements of the convention’s compliance dates – giving another reason for ship-owners to act cautiously. The vessels that are up for retrofit in 2017 or 2018 may very well receive up to 5 years postponement of their compliance dates. This will be clarified at MEPC71 meeting in IMO in July 2017.
How to navigate in a minefield
Making decisions about time of retrofit and equipment to install for a given vessel at this point in time involves the risk that you invest earlier than actually required, and that you end up with a system with problematic operational limitations. Therefore, it might be prudent and wise to await the outcome of the next IMO meeting in July and the outcome of the US Congress voting on VIDA.

DESMI Ocean Guard to deliver its first portbased treatment system
DESMI Ocean Guard has won a contract to deliver a containerized version of its RayClean-300 system to a new port development project in Turkmenistan. The containerized unit will be used as a portable treatment facility and comes complete with easy connections for pipes, hoses and power supply, and is equipped with lighting and heating. The complete system comprising both filter, UV unit, electrical panels and filter backflush pump is fitted inside a 20” insulated container.
“This is the first contract for a portbased ballast water treatment system for DESMI Ocean Guard, and we are very excited about entering this new niche market. We see some potential in portable portbased treatment systems, where they mainly fulfil a purpose as a contingency measure in case a vessel needs to discharge ballast water that for some reason has not been managed according to IMO requirements. This could e.g. be due to failure of the treatment system installed on the vessel” – says Rasmus Folsø, CEO of DESMI Ocean Guard. The portbased RayClean system will be delivered and commissioned during the summer of 2017.

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