Testing to reduce the risk of aquatic invasive species in lakes, streams, rivers and coastal waters

ANN ARBOR, Mich. — NSF International (NSF), an independent public health organization, has become the first Independent Laboratory (IL) accepted by the United States Coast Guard (USCG) to evaluate and test technologies designed to treat ballast water on ships in order to prevent the spread of non-native aquatic species in lakes, rivers and coastal waters.

Ballast water, while essential to the safe and efficient operation of modern shipping, can pose economic, ecological and public health risks when it carries non-native species around the world.  The USCG regulations were developed to limit the release of live organisms in ship ballast water to reduce the risks associated with the spread of aquatic invasive species.

NSF is leading a partnership between Retlif Testing Laboratories (Retlif), the Great Ships Initiative (GSI) and the Maritime Environmental Resource Center (MERC) to test and evaluate systems to the Coast Guard requirements.

Ballast water management system manufacturers (BWMS) will apply to NSF International and the USCG for testing, review and evaluations. NSF International will coordinate testing  between Retlif, the GSI and the MERC. NSF coordination will include preparation of test plans, review of test data (technical and quality assurance), evaluation of BWMS material design and construction and the operation, maintenance and safety manual. It also includes submittal of the test and evaluation results to the USCG.

Ballast Water Testing Requirements

Land-based testing will determine if the BWMS is able to effectively treat ballast water to meet the ballast water discharge standard (BWDS) requirements of 33 CFR Part 151, Subparts C and D. The land-based testing provides a consistent means for evaluating the ability of any BWMS to remove and/or inactivate biological organisms under controlled conditions.

Shipboard tests and evaluations will verify that the BWMS, when installed and operated on a vessel, consistently produces ballast water that meets the BWDS requirements, and that the operating and maintenance parameters identified by the manufacturer in the Operation, Maintenance, and Safety Manual are consistently achieved.

Roles of Ballast Water Discharge Standard Testing Laboratories

The GSI and MERC will conduct both land-based and shipboard testing.

GSI is part of the Northeast-Midwest Institute (NEMWI), which is a private non-profit corporation located in Washington, DC.  GSI houses a fully fledged land-based test platform and an experienced team of scientists and consultants capable of conducting shipboard and supporting bench testing, with several years experience in land-based and shipboard testing.  NEMWI is focused on a range of scientific and policy research to bring the 18 state NEMWI region toward a more environmentally sustainable future.

The MERC test facility is a mobile barge-based platform with a home port of Baltimore, but it may also test at multiple locations and water salinities in the Chesapeake Bay, including Norfolk, Virginia.  Facility personnel have several years experience in land-based and shipboard testing.  The University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science is a public non-profit corporation, one of 12 institutions within the University System of Maryland.

Retlif will complete testing of the electrical and electronic components, including each alarm, control and monitoring device of the BWMS.  Retlif is a 34-year-old independent testing laboratory specializing in electromagnetic interference (EMI) testing, environmental simulation testing and engineering services, to both military and commercial test standards, for national and international clients. 

NSF International has provided support to the USCG for more than 30 years as a recognized facility for testing and evaluation of marine sanitation devices and oil pollution prevention equipment.  NSF is also the verification partner with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Water Quality Protection Center (WQPC) of the Environmental Technology Verification (ETV) program, which verifies commercial-ready technologies that protect ground- and surface waters from contamination.  The WQPC, with valuable contributions from a large number of ballast water treatment stakeholders, developed the protocols to be used for this BWMS testing.  NSF is a global independent organization with nearly 70 years of public health and safety expertise.

“Over the past 11 years, we have worked with the USCG, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and other very experienced and industry-leading organizations to develop this protocol. We appreciate the USCG acceptance of NSF International as an Independent Laboratory to complete the BWMS testing and evaluation. This work is central to our mission of protecting public health and the environment by preventing the spread of invasive species in navigable waters,” stated Tom Bruursema, General Manager of NSF International’s Sustainability division.

Dr. Mario Tamburri, Director of MERC, added "We are excited to be part of the first U.S. Coast  Guard-approved Independent Laboratory for testing ballast water treatment systems and to ultimately play an important role in helping to stop the spread of invasive species."

Ms. Allegra Cangelosi, President of Northeast-Midwest Institute and Director of the Great Ships Initiative, remarked, "We are excited that the hard work involved in setting up our testing programs will assist the new USCG BWMS type approval process to assure effective and efficient BWMS on ships."

For more information, please contact Tom Stevens at 734-769-5347 or Stevenst@nsf.org.

Editor’s note: To schedule an interview with NSF Sustainability Technical Manager Tom Stevens, contact Kelly Nichols at knichols@nsf.org or +1 734-827-6850.

About NSF International: NSF International is an independent organization that writes standards, and tests and certifies products for the food, water and consumer goods industries to minimize adverse health effects and protect the environment (nsf.org). Founded in 1944, NSF is committed to protecting human health and safety worldwide. NSF is a World Health Organization Collaborating Centre for Food and Water Safety and Indoor Environment.

NSF International's Water Programs require extensive product testing and unannounced audits of production facilities to verify that water treatment products meet the design, material and performance requirements. NSF International is accredited by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI).

NSF led the development of the American National Standards for all materials and products that treat or come in contact with drinking water. In 1990, the U.S. EPA replaced its own drinking water product advisory program with these NSF standards. Today, most major plumbing codes require certification to NSF standards for pipes and plumbing components in commercial and residential buildings.

About Retlif Accredited Testing Laboratories: Retlif Accredited Testing Laboratories has been one of the world’s leading independent testing laboratories providing electromagnetic interference (EMI) and environmental simulation (ES) testing services for more than 30 years. www.retlif.com

About the Maritime Environmental Resource Center (MERC): Facilities and expertise for evaluating ballast water treatments and other environmental innovations, standardized third-party data on treatment system performance, information and decision tools to select the most appropriate treatment options, and information and resources for Green Shipping efforts on the Chesapeake Bay, throughout the U.S., and around the world. http://www.maritime-enviro.org/about.php.

About The Great Ships Initiative (GSI): GSI is an innovative collaboration whose objective is to end the problem of ship-mediated invasive species in the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway System, including through independent research and demonstration of environmental technology, financial incentives and consistent basin-wide harbor monitoring. http://www.nemw.org/gsi/index.htm

MEDIA CONTACT:
Kelly Nichols
NSF International
Phone: +1 734-827-6850
Email: knichols@nsf.org