Monday, February 25, 2008

U.S. Seaway Development Corporation Finalizes Ballast Water Regs

Feb 25: The U.S. Department of Transportation's Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation (SLSDC) have published the final rule governing ballast water regulation in the Federal Register [73 FR 9950-9954]. SLSDC and the St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation (SLSMC) of Canada, under international agreement, jointly publish and presently administer the St. Lawrence Seaway Regulations and Rules (Practices and Procedures in Canada) in their respective jurisdictions. Under agreement with the SLSMC, the SLSDC is amending the joint regulations by updating the Regulations and Rules in various categories. The changes will update the sections of the Regulations and Rules: Condition of Vessels; Seaway Navigation; and, Information and Reports.

The SLSDC is seeking to harmonize the ballast water requirements for vessels transiting the U.S. waters of the Seaway after having operated outside the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) with those currently required by Canadian authorities for transit in waters under Canadian jurisdiction of the Seaway. These amendments are necessary to take account of updated procedures and will eliminate the confusion regarding the requirements for saltwater flushing in the binational waters of the Seaway System. The final rule will be effective March 26, 2008. SLSMC and SLSDC originally announced the coordination of the regulation of ballast water management practices between the two countries for the 2008 season on January 16, 2008 [
See WIMS 1/17/08].

Beginning with the 2008 navigation season, all ocean vessels, including those with "no ballast on board", will be subjected to an inspection, covering 100% of ballast water tanks. The inspection process will ensure that the vessel -- while still a minimum of 200 km offshore -- flushed all of its tanks with salt water. On subsequent transits during the year, the vessel will again be subjected to a series of inspections, with the objective of ensuring that the vessel's crew is strictly adhering to the salt water flushing practice.

Saltwater flushing is defined as the addition of midocean water to ballast water tanks: the mixing of the flushwater with residual water and sediment through the motion of the vessel; and the discharge of the mixed water. The resultant residual water remaining in the tank must have a salinity level of at least 30 parts per thousand (ppt). Further, each vessel must maintain the ability to measure salinity levels in each tank onboard the vessel so that final salinities of at least 30 parts per thousand can be ensured. Any vessel that has tanks that fail to reach this salinity level will be required to retain any water in those tanks until it exits the Seaway.

According to the Federal Register notice, SLSDC received 15 letters or other forms of correspondence on the proposed regulation requiring saltwater flushing of ballast water tanks that contain residual amounts of water and/or sediment. Comments were received from: Congressman Vernon J. Ehlers, Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, Great Lakes Commission, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Shipping Federation of Canada, McCabe Chapter of IWLA, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Environmental Coalition on Invasive Species, Great Lakes United/Save The River/Alliance for the Great Lakes, Natural Resources Defense Council, the Polish Steamship Company, Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, and 3 private citizens. All 15 comments supported the proposed regulations and eleven of the commenters stated that while the regulation is an important step in the right direction, more needs to be done to reduce invasions of aquatic nuisance species (ANS).

Access the FR announcement which includes a details discussion of the various comments (
click here). Access the SLSDC website (click here). Access the SLSMC Ballast Water website for extensive information (click here).

MSU & WJR Launch Greening of the Great Lakes Website

Feb 22: Michigan State University (MSU) and News/Talk 760 WJR radio have launched a website called "Greening of the Great Lakes." The goal of the website is to provide information and insight into the organizations committed to making the Great Lakes region a leader in environmental practices. It's designed to be an online resource for anyone interested in learning about the Great Lakes region, related environmental issues and ways that they can protect the environment.

MSU President Lou Anna Simon said, "'Greening of the Great Lakes' is an exciting extension of MSU's partnership with WJR. The stewardship of the environment in which we live is vitally important to all of us, especially when it concerns our treasured Great Lakes. We want 'Greening of the Great Lakes' to become the online resource for all the important information people need to incorporate sound environmental practices into their daily lives." WJR President and General Manager Mike Fezzey said, "The outstanding partnership between WJR and MSU to create Greening of the Great Lakes has not only created a place where listeners can go to find extensive resources for those dedicated to living an environmentally friendly lifestyle, but this site will stay on the cutting edge of environmental related news and information."

Almost all of the information and resources on the site are and will continue to be provided by MSU and a dozen current company sponsor. The website is divided into several categories and sub-categories related to our environment.Primary categories include: Agriculture, Biobased Technologies, Companies Contributing, ECO/AGRI Tourism, Energy, Green Building, Green Careers, Green Facts, Green Products, Public Policy, Recycling, Transportation, Green Events and Water and Land. One of the primary features of the Web site is Green in the News and Regional Green in the News. This news feed is produced by MSU's Knight Center for Environmental Journalism through a news service called Michigan's Echo.

Access a release with further information (
click here).