US policy has ‘serious implications’ for BWMS selection

The US Coast Guard’s (USCG) approach to ballast water management (BWM) type approvals when a company changes hands means owners must take even more care when selecting a supplier, Alfa Laval has claimed.

The company cited a USCG blog post on 22 September regarding requirements for retaining type approval should a system manufacturer change ownership. According to the post the type approval must be updated within five years and systems cannot be operated, maintained or repaired with parts that are not type approved.

In a statement Alfa Laval noted: “In other words, if the original equipment manufacturer ceases to exist, a ballast water treatment system is at serious risk. The issue extends beyond the availability of spares. When a supplier disappears, the knowledge of how to work with the system effectively may disappear as well.”

The issue has resonance given the number of small, specialist system suppliers in the ballast water management market. The high up-front costs for development and approval of systems, coupled with slow sales caused by a lengthening installation timeframe, have placed pressure on many suppliers.

In one recent high-profile example, Norwegian company OceanSaver filed for bankruptcy. It was later bought by TeamTec and an amended US type approval was received on 18 October.

“For long-term compliance, the choice of supplier can be as important as the choice of the system itself,” Alfa Laval said in its statement. “Selecting the right supplier becomes even more important in a new application like ballast water treatment, where so many suppliers and ballast water treatment systems have little practical experience at sea.”

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