Pulling those mussels
Vessel at Port packs ability to zap invasive organisms
By Susan Erler
Northwest Indiana Times
Published May 2, 2006
PORTAGE | Equipment capable of zapping unwelcome fish and plant life came stowed below deck this week on a Port of Indiana-bound vessel.
The prototype ballast water treatment system was carried aboard the Federal Welland, along with the ship's main cargo of more than 20 tons of coiled steel.
The trademarked OceanSaver system eliminates nuisance species and microscopic organisms that hitch rides in ships' ballast tanks and then invade native waters.
"This is really a key step," Indiana Ports Commission spokesman Jody Peacock said.
OceanSaver's high-tech equipment filters the ballast water, deprives the organisms of oxygen and then uses jet propulsion to smash them.
The organisms often come on board when ships that are not fully loaded with cargo take on ballast water for stability.
The effort to treat ballast water is a partnership between Great Lakes ports and Fednav, a major Great Lakes ship operator and sister company to Federal Marine Terminals, a Port of Indiana cargo handler.
The partnership is working to develop new technologies for combating zebra mussels and other nuisance organisms that can damage host waterways.
For its part, the Port of Indiana waived the $1,250-a-day dockage fees for the ship every time it visits the Port, Peacock said.
A standard method for protecting native waters has been to have ships entering the Great Lakes flush their ballast tanks 200 miles from U.S. waters, but that has not been fully effective, Peacock said.
A lack of federally approved standards, and lack of technologies for treating ballast water, has made companies reluctant to invest in testing, Peacock said.
"The major problem in this issue is the need for more stringent regulation," Peacock said. "We have to make sure it's on a federal level so we don't have a patchwork system."
Indiana ports earlier this year backed a resolution passed by Indiana lawmakers urging Congress to act quickly to establish federal ballast water standards.
The issue remains under consideration by the U.S. Senate.