From the July 2000 issue of MARINE LOG

Ballast water treatment breakthrough

Environmental protection groups around the world are alarmed by the damage to local ecosystems that can be done by invasive species imported in ships' ballast water-and they are being listened to by regulators. Ballast water management has become one of the most contentious issues to confront the maritime industry. Indeed, there will be two presentations on the subject at our upcoming Maritime Legislation, Regulation and Policy Conference in Washington, D.C. on September 19-20, 2000. One will deal with regulatory requirements, while the other will focus on alternatives to ballast water exchange.

Open ocean exchange of ballast water is not a solution many mariners, or shipowners, view with much favor. At best, it's time consuming. At worst, it could be a threat to the safety of life and property. It's a particularly impractical solution for cruise ships in regular coastwise service.

Hyde Marine, Inc., and OptiMarin Marketing A/S have just announced what could be a significant breakthrough: delivery of the first Optimar ballast water treatment system to be installed aboard an operating vessel. The system, installed aboard Princess Cruises' Regal Princess, is designed to remove and destroy/inactivate biological organisms including zooplankton, algae, and bacteria from ballast water without affecting the normal operation of the ship.
Princess chose the Optimar system to address the problem of non-indigenous species in ballast water at a realistic total installed cost.

The Regal Princess takes on and discharges ballast water at a rate of 200 t/hr (880 gal/min) as fuel and other consumables are used. Ballast water is pumped through the Optimar system, which separates solids and irradiates the water with UV light in two stages.

The patented MicroKill Cyclonic Separator removes heavier particles larger than approximately 40 microns and the MicroKill Ultraviolet light treatment system kills or inactivates biological organisms with UV radiation. The UV system can also be used during deballasting to ensure that all organisms have been killed or inactivated when they are discharged from the ship. All system components, says Hyde, are reliable, safe and easy to maintain.

The system was installed aboard the Regal Princess during a regular scheduled two-week cruise from Southern California along the Mexican West Coast in late March 2000. There were no interruptions to the ship's normal operations. The system is compact enough to be located in the pump room and the existing ballast piping system, ballast pump(s), and control valves are used as much as possible to minimize the total installation cost.

Testing of a scaled version of the Optimar system was conducted during 1998 and 1999 at the Norwegian Institute of Marine Research, which confirmed its suitability for ballast water treatment to remove and kill/inactivate marine organisms and bacteria.Efficacy testing on the Regal Princess began when the ship first visited Vancouver, B.C., on May 17th during a four-day cruise to Alaska. It will continue throughout the summer Alaska cruise season with U.S. Coast Guard involvement. Initial sample results reportedly confirmed that the system's performance is at least equivalent to mid ocean exchange.

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