August 8, 2007
American Club warns on Ukraine ballasting fines
The American P&I Club has issued a warning to its members not to leave themselves open to massive fines over ballasting activities in the Ukraine.
The club's managers report that some port authorities, particularly in the Crimea, are increasingly penalizing owners involved in de-ballasting of vessels in those ports.
The Ukrainian State Inspection for Protection of the Black Sea (SIPBS) has adopted an aggressive policy over ballasting activities, imposing fines ranging from US.$40,000 to $60,000 in individual cases.
Shipowners are recommended to ensure that masters of vessels entering Ukrainian ports pay particular attention to obtaining cleaner ballast samples to reduce exposure to fines.
There are a number of important procedures to minimize the risk of penalties.
A vessel's representative should be on board ship during sampling to ensure that SIPBS does not take samples from the ballast pipe flange in the engineroom. Samples drawn from these flanges may be rusty or soiled, and could potentially create results indicating an excessive oil product content.
Samples should be drawn directly from the open deck manhole of the ballast tank and should not be taken from the surface of the liquid present there--since it may bear patches of oily film--nor from the bottom of the tank where there might be an accumulation of contaminating materials.
Samples should ideally be taken from the mid-levels of the tank where the ballast water is likely to be cleanest. Also, ballast tanks should in all cases be well maintained.
SIPBS has made it compulsory that vessels change their ballast in the Black Sea, so ballast water should preferably be taken in places where the water is visually clean.
It is also recommended that ballast be exchanged several times and that, generally, no more ballast should at any time be maintained on board than that necessary to fulfill vessel stability requirements.