Washington State Updates Ballast Water Law

Please be advised that the following Washington Advisory Codes (WAC) have been revised by Emergency Rule and are effective as of August 14, 2007. Key emergency rule elements include:

WAC 220-77-090 Ballast water management and control:
  • Section (1) Meet RCW 77.120.020(1)(b) that now requires all vessels to report.
  • Section (4) Vessels no longer need to file an Interim Ballast Water Management Report Form. Delete entire section as expired on July 1, 2006.
  • NEW SECTION (4) Define safety exemption filing conditions and requirements.
  • NEW SECTION (5) Define safety exemption review protocols to determine if warranted and if compliance plans or alternative strategies are necessary. Define safety exemption fee and guidance for assessment up to $5,000.
  • NEW SECTION (6) Define civil penalty assessment criteria up to $27,500/day (old penalty: $5000/day).
WAC 220-77-095 Interim ballast water discharge standard approval process:
  • Sections (2) & (3) Change interim ballast water treatment system application and approval process for use in waters of the state. Department has determined that current process is not within fiscal year 2007-09 funding and management capacity.
If you have any questions, please contact Allen Pleus, ANS Coordinator, (360)902-2724 or pleusaep@dfw.wa.gov

Debate surrounding ballast water bill (S 1578) in Senate

When Congress returns after Labor Day, the Senate Commerce Committee hopes to move the Ballast Water Management Act (S. 1578) through Committee. The bill would amend and strengthen existing federal law regulating invasive species from ships - the Non-indigenous Aquatic Nuisance Prevention and Control Act of 1990.

The bill was removed from the agenda prior to the August recess due to ongoing questions related to whether the bill should preserve the possible application of the Clean Water Act to discharges of invasive species from ships. In September 2006, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California vacated a long-standing EPA regulation that exempted discharges incidental to the normal operation of vessels from NPDES permitting requirement. This ruling, which EPA is appealing, applies to vessel discharges that are currently exempted, such as ballast water, sewage, gray water, and bilge water. This court ruling could mean that the states would be required to regulate such discharges from all ships operating in U.S. waters, which EPA estimates as 13 million recreational boats, 81,000 commercial fishing vessels, and 53,000 freight and tank barges.

The Senate bill (S. 1578) intends to uniformly manage ballast water to minimize the discharge of invasive species. Shipping interests have expressed concern that regulating such discharges through the NPDES permit program would be problematic, and that vessel discharges would be subject to numerous and potentially conflicting state and federal regulatory approaches. Some environmental groups and States have opposed the bill because they want ballast water to be regulated under the Clean Water Act. To receive a copy of a memo from the Congressional Research Service regarding potential impacts to states, please contact Kate Zultner (kzultner@coastalstates.org).


New Treatment Technology Report Out

Lloyd’s Register has released a new Guide to Ballast Water Treatment Technology that provides an independent and impartial description and appraisal of commercially available and developing technologies for ballast water treatment. The treatment of ballast water is one of the most significant environmental and operational challenges facing the marine industry today. In the face of new legislation, ship operators will need to choose a ballast water management solution that will work for them. The new Guide is intended to provide an overview of the current status of ballast water treatment technologies. A global requirement for ballast water treatment arises from the International Convention for The Control of Ships’ Ballast Water and Sediments, which will require certain ship types to use treatment systems from January 1, 2009. It is envisaged that the Guide will be updated in 2008.

Please contact either Gill Reynolds or Nicholas Brown for a copy of the Guide:

Nicholas A K Brown
Marine Communications Manager
Lloyd's Register Marine Business
+44 (0)20 7423 1706

Dr. Gillian Reynolds
Environmental Manager
Research & Development
+44 (0) 7423 1854

Ohio introduces ballast bill similar to Michigan's

Ohio would be empowered to regulate the discharge of ballast water from oceangoing ships into portions of Lake Erie under state control under a bill to be introduced August 15 in the Ohio House. Ohio's bill, to be introduced by Rep. Mike Skindell (D., Lakewood) would require Ohio to act on its own while simultaneously working with other Great Lakes states and Canadian provinces to develop a uniform standard for the entire lake.The move follows the lead of Michigan, which enacted similar legislation that took effect Jan. 1. For the full story, visit http://toledoblade.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070815/NEWS24/708150401

Granholm Calls on Great Lakes Governors, Canadian Premiers for Regional Action on Ballast Water

LANSING - Governor Jennifer M. Granholm today sent a letter to the governors of the Great Lakes states as well as to the premiers of Ontario and Quebec, urging them to follow Michigan's lead in protecting the Great Lakes from aquatic invasive species by enacting legislation that regulates ballast water discharge from ocean-going ships. Granholm's letter follows a recent federal court decision that upheld legislation she signed into law that regulates ballast water discharges in Michigan.
For more questions, contact Liz Boyd, 517-335-6397

Suit against Michigan dismissed, opening door for states aiming to protect Great Lakes

A federal court judge dismissed a lawsuit by nine shipping companies and associations that had hoped to overturn a Michigan law requiring oceangoing ships to sanitize their ballast water to prevent the introduction of invasive species. U.S. District Judge John Feikens ruled Wednesday, August 15,207 that Michigan's law is constitutional. For the complete story, visit: http://www.jsonline.com/story/index.aspx?id=648445

Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy sues state over ballast regulations

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency has been sued for allegedly failing to take action to protect Lake Superior and other state waters from a deadly fish virus.
The lawsuit filed in Ramsey County District Court seeks to force the state to prohibit Great Lakes freighters from dumping untreated ballast water into Duluth Harbor and other ports.

The Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy claims in the lawsuit that ballast water contains fish wastes, fish reproductive materials and infected fish that can spread the virus - viral hemorrhagic septicemia - which kills fish by severe hemorrhaging. The virus has infected fish in all of the Great Lakes except Lake Superior and has killed large numbers of more than a dozen species, including such popular game fish as walleye, muskellunge, smallmouth bass, northern pike, yellow perch and black crappies.

The lawsuit contends that in addition to the Great Lakes, many of Minnesota's interior lakes and waters are also at risk. The MPCA said national regulations rather than separate state laws would be a more effective way to regulate ships' wastes. Commissioner Brad Moore said the agency is "doing essential research and analysis" on state rules in case federal authorities don't act.

"We acknowledge that there has to be a national or international solution eventually since ships are travelling all over," said Kevin Reuther, lawyer for the Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy. "But Minnesota needs to be a leader, not a follower, especially since Lake Superior isn't infested yet."


Congressional Summary on Ballast Water Management released

The Congressional Research Service (CRS) issued a report on ballast water management to combat invasive species. It provides background on various approaches to ballast water management and reviews current ballast water management laws and programs. Click here for the report.

IMO adopts new ballast guidelines

Ballast Water Management

A primary task before this session was to complete Ballast Water Management Convention assessment. The committee agreed ships built on or after Jan. 1, 2009, must comply with the Convention when traveling to, or within the jurisdictional waters of, states that have ratified it.

The extent of retroactivity of the compliance date for ships flying the flag of non-signatory states remains unknown. Several states (including Norway, Japan, and the United States) disagreed with the above view.

With no agreed position on the extent of retroactivity and without any approved technologies available, the proper course of action for the industry to take is not clear at all. It is important to note that this Convention does not alleviate a yacht from complying with the existing ballast water regulations already in place and heavily enforced in the United States and Brazil.

Antarctic ballast waters exchange

The Committee adopted guidelines providing common guidance for vessels undertaking ballast water exchange in Antarctic waters. They call for ballast that will be discharged in Antarctic waters to first be exchanged before arrival in Antarctic waters (preferably north of the Antarctic Polar Frontal Zone or 60 degrees S, whichever is the farthest north) and at least 200 nm from the nearest land in water at least 200 m deep. If this is not operationally possible, such exchange should be undertaken in waters at least 50 nm from land in water at least 200 m deep.

Only tanks discharged in Antarctic waters would need to undergo exchange. Ballast water taken onboard from Antarctic waters that is intended to be discharged in Arctic, sub-Arctic, or sub-Antarctic waters should be exchanged north of the Antarctic Polar Frontal Zone, and at least 200 nm from the nearest land in water at least 200 m deep. Vessels that have spent significant time in the Arctic should discharge ballast water sediment and clean tanks before entering Antarctic waters (south of 60 degrees S).


Eurasian milfoil responsible for drowning

A 22-year-old man died when he apparently became entangled in thick milfoil in the Columbia River in southeast Washington. The man apparently was not a strong swimmer and got caught in a bed of milfoil -- an invasive weed that grows in many Washington rivers and lakes. Scott Pattison, a spokesman for the Columbia Basin Dive Rescue team, says milfoil can act like quicksand and pull you under if you get tangled in it and begin to struggle. Click here for more information on Eurasion Milfoil and how to prevent this killer weed from invading your lake or river.


EPA Looks for Comments on their new document, “Effects of Climate Change on Aquatic Invasive Species and Implications for Management and Research”

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is announcing a 30-day public comment period for the draft document, "Effects of Climate Change on Aquatic Invasive Species and Implications for Management and Research'' (EPA/600/R-07/084); Technical comments should be in writing and must be received by EPA by September 10, 2007.

The draft "Effects of Climate Change on Aquatic Invasive Species and Implications for Management and Research'' can be downloaded here. Comments may be submitted electronically via http://www.regulations.gov, by mail, by facsimile, or by hand delivery/courier. “To view the Call for Comments,” or more contact information, click here.

For information on the public comment period, contact the Office of Environmental Information Docket; telephone: 202-566-1752; facsimile: 202-566-1753; or e-mail: ORD.Docket@epa.gov. For technical information, contact Britta Bierwagen, NCEA, telephone: 202-564-3388; facsimile: 202-565-0061; or e-mail: bierwagen.britta@epa.gov.

NPR Story: "California Struggles to Protect Waters from Aquatic Invaders"

Since the Gold Rush, California's been a destination for an unwanted hitchhiker. Invasive marine plants and animals can create expensive damage to ecosystems by squeezing out native species. Still, public agencies say it's a challenge to find money and support to prevent problems. As California builds a plan to manage aquatic invasions, KPCC's Molly Peterson examines the effectiveness of programs aimed at stopping seagoing pests. Read or hear the story.

"Communicating Science to the Public and Media" Workshop on August 20 & 21

This FREE workshop will provide the opportunity to engage with communications specialists to discuss the challenges of communicating ocean science. This two-day workshop will present methods to shape science messages, offer traditional and new media exercises, and presentations from a panel of media representatives who cover the science beat.

For more information, email Columbine Culberg at columbine.culberg@noaa.gov, or call (805) 963-3238 x10. More info can also be found in our "Calendar" section.

AIS/Hull Fouling Workshop on August 18

AIS/Hull Fouling Workshop on August 18

For more information on this free workshop in San Francisco, CA, click on the title above.

Great Ships Initiative Opens First Solicitation

The Great Ships Initiative (GSI) has released a Prototype Solicitation offering preliminary research services to qualified developers of treatment systems designed to minimize the presence of live organisms - including microbes and viruses - in ballast water discharge from ships. Applications are due by August 6, 2007. The estimated start date for work is September 17, 2007.

The GSI is a collaborative effort to end the problem of ship-mediated invasive species in the GLSLSS through independent research and demonstration of environmental technology, financial incentives and consistent basin-wide harbor monitoring. To that end, the GSI offers integrated research facilities and services to support development of effective and commercially viable ballast treatment systems.

Comments Needed on Coastal Management Future

The Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management (OCRM), in partnership with the Coastal States Organization, has begun an effort to envision the future of coastal management under the Coastal Zone Management Act to develop a set of core principles and specific options to consider in drafting a proposal for reauthorizing the Coastal Zone Management Act. For additional information or to submit comments, please visit their website.