Closing In on Ballast Water Treatment


The Great Ships Initiative is showing off one of the world’s first freshwater ballast water treatment systems.

The Great Ships Initiative Laboratory is working on testing ballast water treatments for ships in the Great Lakes so exotic species do not hitchhike in the ballast water of ocean-going vessels.

American Steamship Company Assistant Vice President Tom Anderson says his company is lending their ship Indiana Harbor to help with the water testing. “We’re pretty much committed to these folks for as long as they need the boat.”

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Great Ships Initiative Director Allegra Cangelosi will not comment on any specific breakthroughs but is expecting good things soon. “Each time we test a treatment process that goes on to get type approval and gets installed on ships, that’s a real breakthrough.”

Cangelosi says there are a few different types of water treatment. “So the kinds of things that we have tested so far included ozone and filtration, UV light radiation and filtration, electrolytic chlorination, where they make chlorine out of salt and water, lye, which is changing the pH in the water, and I think that sums up most of what we have looked at.”

Right now the requirements for ballast water being returned to the lakes allows only a few living organisms and no signs of diseases. Cangelosi says the federal government is also reserving the right to change those requirements as time goes on. “Well they have set a standard that is pretty much consistent with international standard at this stage, which allows 10 live organisms per cubic meter of water on discharge in the zooplankton size class and 10 per milliliter in the protist size class.”

The deadline for EPA-ordered ballast water treatments is 2016.