Aug 05, 2008

WWEMA Claims EPA Ballast Water Discharge Regulations Fall Short

Organization claims regulation will do little to prevent further release of invasive species into U.S. waters

The Water and Wastewater Equipment Manufacturers Association (WWEMA) claims the approach being taken by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to regulate ballast water discharges in its “Draft National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) General Permits for Discharges Incidental to the Normal Operation of a Vessel” will do little, if anything, to prevent further release of invasive species into U.S. waters.

The organization believes the proposed rule could potentially stifle the development of ballast water treatment technologies that can effectively kill or remove aquatic nuisance species (ANS) that have wreaked havoc on the U.S.’ ecology and economy.

WWEMA urged the need for uniform, national standards for ballast water and a treatment system approval process.

In WWEMA’s view, the EPA is missing a critical opportunity by not issuing national numeric treatment standards for ballast water discharges, instead opting to only propose use of management practices by vessels for controlling the release of ANS from ballast water discharges (e.g., ballast water exchange and saltwater flushing). At a minimum, they contend the U.S. should ratify the International Maritime Organization (IMO) convention and EPA should adopt the IMO ballast water management discharge performance standards as recently called for by the National Academy of Sciences.

“Commercially available ballast water treatment technology exists and has been proven effective by many credible, independent organizations,” said WWEMA Chairman Tom Mills of Severn Trent Services. “Lloyd’s Register published a report in 2007 describing more than 20 technologies that are in various stages of development, three of which have already received Type Approval. EPA’s contention that it cannot issue numeric treatment standards because technology is not yet commercially available is baseless. The reason these technologies are not in ‘commercial’ application is because there is no uniform, U.S. national standard requiring their use.”