Belgium to spot check ships for BWMC compliance

Written by Nick Blenkey
Image of ballast water being discharged from ship's bow

Belgium is to begin testing vessels calling at its ports and terminals to ensure they can demonstrate compliance with the IMO Ballast Water Management Convention (BWMC), becoming one of the first European nations to enforce the mandate.

The Federal Public Service (FPS) Mobility and Transport, the arm of the Belgian government responsible for shipping, has selected Chelsea Technologies, a Sonardyne company, to provide benchmark portable testing for compliance with the ballast water standards.

Chelsea Technologies’ FastBallast portable ballast water analyzer has been chosen by the FPS following a thorough evaluation of portable ballast water tools available on the market.

FastBallast will be deployed to conduct spot checks on an indicative sampling of vessels arriving in Belgian ports.

Following a detailed technical review, FastBallast was identified as the most accurate solution for portable sampling of ballast water, allowing Port State Control (PSC) to target vessels for laboratory compliance testing.

The technology can also be used by shipowners to confirm that their ballast water treatment system is operating effectively, mitigating the risk of potentially significant fines and costly delays.

Chelsea Technologies’ FastBallast uses a statistical method to generate an estimate of cell density that is independent of an assumed level of fluorescence per cell, in order to achieve the most accurate reading. FastBallast conducts sampling based on the Poisson distribution theory which ensures a true analysis of the ballast water sample, providing a pass/fail response in under 10 minutes.

Chelsea Technologies says that benchmark laboratory testing conducted by independent authorities has identified the Single Turnover One Pulse (STOP) statistical methodology used by FastBallast as an accurate method for shipboard ballast water testing. FastBallast is currently being used to conduct compliance tests on board vessels in Saudi Arabian, Belgian and Chinese ports.

Dr. Brian Phillips, Executive Chairman of Chelsea Technologies, commented:

“It is testament to the confidence of the FPS in the unrivaled accuracy and reliability of FastBallast that it has been selected as the gold standard for ballast water sampling in ensuring compliance with the IMO Ballast Water Management Convention. Accurate testing eliminates the risk of any ambiguity over results, potential fines, delays and reputational damage as well as protecting the environment by preventing the spread of invasive aquatic species.

“Allied to this, confidence in the accuracy of ballast water treatment systems is essential to ensure compliance with environmental regulations, as inaccurate testing and false readings could lead to delays with port state control and potentially significant fines, risking reputational damage, as well as the impact of non-compliant discharges on the environment.”

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