St. Lawrence Seaway toughens ballast regulations

The St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation (SLSMC, part of the Dept. of Transportation) has announced stricter ballast water management practices for the 2008 season. Beginning with the 2008 navigation season, all ocean vessels, including those with "no ballast on board," will be subjected to an inspection, covering 100 percent of ballast water tanks. This inspection process will ensure that the vessel--while still a minimum of 200 km offshore--flushed all of its tanks with salt water.

Since 2006, all ocean vessels bound for a Canadian port have been subjected to ballast water inspections, to ensure that water within the ballast tanks adheres to a minimum level of salinity of 30 parts per thousand. With the harmonization of U.S. and Canadian standards, all vessels entering the Seaway, irrespective of destination, will be subjected to the same inspection process.

For the full story, click here. For the official proposed rules, click here.


K-Line introduces "green" vessel

On January 17, 2008, a new ship making its maiden voyage arrived at the Port of Hueneme. The car carrier Georgia Highway was equipped with features such as a triple hull to prevent oil spills, as well as cement ballast and silicone paint, both used to reduce the possibility of introducing invasive species to a port. The carrier is one of three of its size with such features operated by Japanese shipping company Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha Ltd., or K-Line. The company also has three smaller ships built with environmentally friendly features, including main engines that are electronically controlled to cut emissions.

The permanent cement ballast reduces the amount of water ballast the ship takes on to give it the proper weight balance. Capt. Yoshizawa said Georgia Highway also has a new type of paint on its hull that keeps organisms in the port, such as kelp or algae, from clinging to the ship. That means less drag on the ship, but it also reduces the possibility that the ship will transport something from one port to another.

The ships aren't the only ones adding green features. The Port of Hueneme has a company on site that exclusively sells biodiesel to the tugboats, oil platform boats and others.

For the full story, click here.


Mussels Shuts Down Nuclear Plant

Lake Ontario's Zebra and Quagga mussels appear to be behind the surge of seaweed that has shut down the James A. FitzPatrick Nuclear Power Plant three times in the past two months, scientists said. The FitzPatrick plant, on the lakeshore in Scriba, was shut down Sept. 12, Oct. 14 and Oct. 28 when seaweed clogged filters, reducing the amount of water available to cool the reactor. The shutdown costs the plant between $1.5 million and $2 million a day in lost revenue, according to federal figures.

The seaweed, called Cladophora, is a "filamentous algae," that grows in fine strands and isn’t edible by the zebra and Quagga mussels that have so successfully made Lake Ontario home. The mussels eat all sorts of free-floating algae - that's how they've managed to make Lake Ontario, Onondaga Lake and other bodies of water in Central New York so much clearer. Lake waters cleared of algae by the mussels allow more sunshine to penetrate deeper, encouraging Cladophora to spread to more of the lake bottom. Then, as winds blows, choppy waters scrub Cladophora from the lake bottom. The fine strands piled up so densely, he said, water couldn't pass through. In two of the three incidents, operators had to scram the plant - that is, drive control rods into the reactor to snuff the nuclear reaction as quickly as possible. That procedure is usually associated with emergencies and it's one the Nuclear Regulatory Commission watches closely.

For the full story, click here.


Ballast Water Management Demonstration Program grants competition now open

The 2008 Ballast Water Management Demonstration Program grants competitions were announced in the Federal Register on December 27, 2007, and can be found here.

As in recent years, there are two competitions: one for individual projects on ballast water-related technologies and practices, and one on establishment of a ballast water research, development, test and evaluation (RDTE) facility.

Both full Federal Funding Opportunity announcements are posted on Grants.gov. They can be found by selecting the link to "Find Grant Opportunities" on the Grants.gov home page, then selecting "Basic Search" and searching on these Federal Funding Opportunity numbers:

OAR-SG-2008-2001206 (for the technologies and practices competition)
OAR-SG-2008-2001279 (for the RDTE facility competition)

For the technologies and practices competition, the deadline for letters of intent (mandatory to be eligible to submit a full proposal) is February 21, 2008 and the deadline for full proposals is April 3, 2008.

For the RDTE facility competition, the deadline for preproposals (mandatory to be eligible to submit a full proposal) is February 21, 2008 and the deadline for full proposals is April 24, 2008.

National Invasive Species Management Plan open for public comment

The Department of the Interior seeks comments on the 2008-2012 National Invasive Species Management Plan. Comments should be submitted by February 11, 2008. The document is posted on the USDA's Invasive Species Information page.


First commercial order for Alfa Laval's PureBallast

The Alfa Laval PureBallast system combines a chemical-free technology with a compact design that fits easily into the engine room. The system meets the requirements defined by the International Maritime Organization (IMO), a specialised agency of the United Nations. The Alfa Laval PureBallast equipment will be installed aboard four new ships owned by German ship owner E.R Schiffahrt. These new ships, scheduled for completion in 2008, will be one of the first to comply with the pending IMO regulations. For the full article, click here.