The Coast Guard on Friday announced final ballast water rules that make mid-ocean ballast water exchange insufficient. Instead, ships will be required to have onboard ballast water management systems that sharply reduce the number of living organism per cubic meter of water.
Officials said the rule is consistent with an International Maritime Organization standard set down in 2004, based on the abilities of available technology. Seven states have adopted IMO’s standard. California and New York set standards that are 100 times more stringent, but New York earlier this year agreed to suspend the effective date of its rule.
The Coast Guard said it would establish a process for approving different types of treatment technologies to meet the IMO standard. Some foreign governments have already approved technology, which the Coast Guard will accept for vessels that install systems before the compliance deadline.
Separate from the ballast water standard is the Coast Guard and Environmental Protection Agency effort to revise the Vessel General Permit, which covers all incidental water discharges from ships. A proposed rule is out for comment, and the agencies intend to put the rule into effect in 2013.
The rule should be published in Federal Register early next week, and take effect 90 days later.