New York backs off on strict ballast water rules, adopts federal standard

2012 02 28


NEW YORK's strict ballast water rules imposed by its Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) that threatened ocean-going ships this summer have been dropped because technology does not exist to meet regulatory demands, reports American Shipper.

In comments filed this week with the US Environmental Protection Agency, New York's DEC commissioner Joseph Martens, New York state will instead uphold EPA standards in through December 2013.

Said American Great Lakes Ports Association director Steve Fisher: "This eliminates the unworkable ballast water rules. It protects jobs and supports the thousands of Americans who make their living in the maritime industry."

Mr Fisher said under the New York rule demanded standards 100 times stronger than those established by the UN's International Maritime Organisation (IMO). No such technology exists, he said, adding that next year's rule would be 1,000 times more demanding than the IMO standard.

A coalition of environmental groups including the National Resources Defence (NRDC), Great Lakes United, Alliance for the Great Lakes, National Wildlife Federation and Northwest Environmental Advocates said: "The EPA's new proposed permit isn't tough enough to protect the Great Lakes and other vulnerable watersheds throughout the country."

Said Ed Kelly, president of the Maritime Association of the Port of New York and New Jersey: "This removes the potential for serious economic damage to the New York-New Jersey port and to commerce on the Great Lakes and St Lawrence Seaway."

Said Raymond Johnston, president of Canada's Chamber of Marine Commerce, applauded the decision. (Canada shares the seaway with the US.) The governors of three Great Lakes states said in September that New York's regulation could close the waterway and "imperil thousands of maritime-related jobs in the Great Lakes states and Canada" if not changed.

The US Chamber of Shipping said they were unable to "purchase systems deemed compliant. The US should either recognise other national type certifications or delay implementation of the requirements until systems are available for purchase".

Ballast water treatment kills marine life in ballast tanks with chemicals or ultraviolet light to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species migrating to new waters.

"New York remains concerned. We hope that a strong national solution can be achieved," said Mr Martens. "At the same time, shipping and maritime activity is critical to New York state and international commerce. A technically feasible national standard which recognises the critical economic role played by our waterways is the only viable way to address the spread of destructive aquatic invaders through ballast water."

Source Shipping Gazette - Daily Shipping News


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