Ship Compliance Testing of Ballast Water Treatment Systems (BWTS)

Many years of Ballast Water Type Approval (TA) Testing are behind us, and are on-going. The global challenge is to install Type Approved ballast water treatment systems (BWTS) on-board of the approximately 50,000 merchant ships sailing world-wide. An even greater challenge is to ensure that these systems perform adequately in real life.  This is the area of Ship Compliance testing.

Biological Efficacy (BE) – installation and survey

A TA certificate is not a guarantee for succes of your BWTS on-board under all conditions. To fully ensure operational performance and compliance, samples can be taken on-board and further analysed ashore.  This can be done during regulatory surveys or any other moment in port.  When performing a BE test on-board of a vessel, the following services can be provided:

  • Sampling (in accordance with IMO and US Coast Guard requirements);
  • Analysis on biological parameters and micro-organisms (bacteria) as listed in the VGP and IMO Ballast Water Management (BWM) Code, Res.MEPC.300(72);
  • Additional parameters that provide an indication of the efficacy of the BWTS (for example filtering equipment, specifics of UV, dosage of active substances); and
  • Root cause analysis of problems that have occurred.

Disputes and claims

Based on our comprehensive experience with BE tests and statistical and scientific knowledge, we can offer our services In case of any dispute.

Vessel General Permit (VGP) testing

The US regulations on ballast water require frequent testing of installed BWTS. This is done in accordance with the Vessel General Permit (VGP 2013). The VGP, established by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will be converted within the framework of the Vessel Incidental Discharge Act (“VIDA”). This will happen in the forthcoming 2 years. Consequently, the VGP 2013 will remain into force until 2020.

Generally, there are four levels of VGP Tests. These include Ballast Water Management (BWM) Compliance tests and other water tests:

1. General VGP BWM Compliance Test (Biological Monitoring): for the entire US vessels that use a BWTS must sample and analyze ballast water discharges for the biological parameters Total heterotrophic bacteria, E. coli and Enterococci.

2. All Inclusive VGP BWM Compliance Test (all US regions): The ETV (EPA 2010) implies that in the States of New York, Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin further analyses is required on:

a. The group of organisms in the size class ≥ 50 micron per m3;
b. The group of organisms in the size class 10-50 micron per m3; and
c. V.Cholerae, discharge limitation 1 cfu/100mL. Analysis of micro-organisms (indicator microbes/ bacteria);

3. VGP BWM Compliance Biocidal Residues Test If a BWT makes use of chemicals (active substances): analysis of residual biocides and biocide derivatives must be monitored and reported.

4. VGP Other Water Tests.  VGP 2013 also includes monitoring of other water parameters, such as bilgewater and oil water separator effluent and grey water.

For level 3, VGP BWM Compliance Biocidal Residues Test, we are currently developing a full service programme. 

‘One stop shop’ water analysis

MEA-nl can offer you all kinds of water analysis. With the many environmental regulations that have arisen the last decades, ballast water represents another administrative burden ‘on top of the pile’. Therefore, MEA-nl provides a ‘one stop shop’ service for your demands. We can provide our service thanks to our own laboratories and our wide-spread network.  Our service also includes water analysis such as on-board drinking water, legionella and E. coli.




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