What lurks beneath: Bay Area’s battle with invasive species in ballast water

CROCKETT — Twenty feet below the water line, in the bilge of a cargo ship unloading raw sugar at the C&H factory, scientists are testing a high-tech weapon in the fight against invasive aquatic species.

A special ballast water treatment system is purifying the water that whooshes through a pump from the Carquinez Strait into the Moku Pahu, a double-hull bulk carrier that ferries raw sugar from Hawaii to California.

The ballast water balances the ship as the system removes organisms thinner than the width of a hair. If the treatment system performs as expected, it will join a handful of emerging technologies that represent the shipping industry’s best hope for meeting a state deadline to remove exotic species from ballast water discharge — or face stiff penalties.

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5 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Don
    Dec 04, 2010 @ 12:41:12

    http://www.homelandsecuritydialogue.org/dialogue1/borders/ideas/ballast-discharge-control The best time to have enacted Federal ballast water policy was at the begining of this economic slow down when shipping traffic was off. Ideally H.R.2830 passed by the House 395-7 in 2008 would have been the right way to start to address ballast water, instead of one Senator Boxer killing the legislation for the whole country over her frivolous states rights position, allowing a continued path of economic globalization, with a communist country leading the way.

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  2. Don
    Dec 22, 2010 @ 04:44:13

    At the end of 2008 when the demise of h.r.2830 was assured for the start of this administration, all of the states rattle their swords with a predictable response to create meaningful legislation for ballast water, but the foreign shipping industry knew, and said, it was just a “pipe dream” as they knew they had won and a policy following an international approach,in favor of their economic business interest would prevail, instead of any enforceable, meaningful American law to protect all American waters equally. Now Wisconsin one of the last of the Great Lakes States with a loud bark is considering a policy to be the first to cater to foreign shipping. NY ballast water laws will be the last wasted money this administration will need to create with pressure to cave in favor of a weak military plan. Then this administration can proceed with a slow military delay program helping ease the economic pain to foreign shipping, forever giving up the opportunity to put America on a level playing field in manufacturing cost.
    California laws, although tough have historically already, been shown ineffective, because of the cost to make them meaningful through enforcement. This is obvious as the environmentalist, still are fighting for protection, from the ballast water problems that lurk beneath the sea. Unfortunately invasive s, human bacteria and virus, introduction will also be delayed for the whole world with a slow Federal policy or an international plan. As we continue to wait until sometime in the middle of 2011 for the military delay plan, watch NY and their laws, as it will be the tell, to the future, of any “change” in the way America dose business in the world.
    Unless comprehensive Federal policy (preferably law) is created directing the Coast Guard to enforce strong regulation, (law) the historic attitude of disinterest the Coast Guard has displayed will continue considering this an International Maritime Organization problem, allowing international shipping to circumvent compliance with environmental agreements, as is noted in the military millennium report discussing environmental international agreements and the compliance. The idea the EPA will enforce anything without an infrastructure, is a joke as was illustrated by their lack of enforcement for tar balls in Lake Pontchartrain and at Texas beach’s has already shown.

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  3. Don Mitchel
    Jan 11, 2011 @ 02:43:21

    Interesting Senator Boxer of California kills ballast water legislation passed in the house 395-7, back in 2008 that would have protected the whole country equally over her wish for California to be able to enact stronger laws. Now articles are saying California is backing down on its current ballast water laws for being to strict. NY laws will be next to go, making President Obamas week military plan look attractive. Senator Boxers position in 2008 killing ballast water legislation, to allegedly preserve her states rights to stronger laws,(despite president Obama’s reported rhetoric voicing support for legislation) was as the sponsor of the bill, former Rep Oberstar suggested “bullshit” and now it is being shown by California’s latest action.
    Now after all the wasted money this administration created leaving the states to create useless laws, the Presidents delayed Coast Guard plan will provide a weakened standard with a longer time line and President Obama and the Coast Guard will be praised for creating protection, when the reality will be, that killing what the house voted for in 2008 and the delayed weakened plan will favor the foreign shipping industry more than the American environment and human health or help create a level playing field for American manufacturing cost.
    It really is not funny how our politicians waste our money to posture their political stature. Odd Paterson, governor of NY created strong ballast water laws- GONE!, Strickland strong advocate for ballast protection- GONE!, Oberstar creator of ballast legislation h.r.2830- GONE! Granholm strong advocate for national ballast water regulation mentioned for Obama positions,- PASSED OVER! Governor Schwarzenegger strong environmental advocate for ballast water, GONE!- coinciding with a newly created weakening of California’s ballast water laws. Senator Boxer the killer of national ballast water laws RETAINED!, because of a large show of support from President Obama during elections.

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  4. Don
    Feb 09, 2011 @ 14:40:40

    Predictably, it looks as though NY is slowly trying to save face and back down on ballast water despite the money spent creating and defending these laws, illustrated by the 2012 date for compliance reportedly extended by a year and a half. Odd when I wrote to Governor Paterson in 2008 about H.R.2830 and how our state would be represented, a Mr. Tierney from the NY DEC wrote back to me by US mail, on the Governors behalf claiming how great this state ballast legislation would be in comparison to H.R.2830 which would have been well under way by now. I wrote Mr. Tierney back, expressing concern on how they planed on enforcing these State laws, but never received an answer.
    Senator Boxer subsequently killed legislation H.R.2830 for the whole country back in 2008, while the three top officials of this administration were all Senators. She allegedly believed it to weak for her states rights. Now California is backing down from her position as well as NY is backing down because the stricter laws can not be met??? “according to the shipping industry”? So now three years later all we have is a still purposed plan being concocted by the military, which so far appears as little more than following the international Maritime Organization lead of delay.
    Our politicians need to act mandating technology other than the ocean flushing, which only uses dilution as the solution for pollution. Flushing dose not address all problems associated by ballast discharges. Just using salinity alone dose not address ocean invasive’s and other substances such as tar balls that can also be taken on during ocean flushing. Human health will continue being at risk and destruction of our waters will continue as shipping traffic continues to increase if our politicians do not start acting prudently.

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  5. Don
    Mar 29, 2011 @ 04:45:09

    We are still without comprehensive ballast water policy, law,or regulation to address all the dangers of ballast water discharges.
    One can only pray this administration is more concerned about Japan’s nuclear contaminated water in the Pacific arriving in ballast water, than were while watching ballast systems for tar balls going to Lake Pontchartrain. They were warned about both. The administration is obviously following an international approach through the Coast Guard plan relying on the IMO for direction and enforcement. This is obvious by the failure of this administration to coordinate the EPA and Homeland Security, with a Coast Guard plan, (which sadly only follows the IMO). Within a four year term in office under President Obama’s administration despite previously passed legislation in the House 395-7, (killed by Senator Boxer, a political friend of the President) the EPA had to be sued, in order to even address, the need to create a standard. Environmentalist, still only achieved a promise from the EPA to draw up a standard, after the next presidential election, when there may be a new administration policy. This administration has effectively continued the delay created by the military under this commander and chief using the guise of more and more study.
    Regardless of IMO regulations, international law or treaties, each IMO foreign sea captain works for a different economic interest and performs under independent governance while controlling the ships functions to create profit for foreign economic interest. Currently we are protected by only foreign sea captains integrity and ability to perform costly, often dangerous, ineffective ocean flush’s. The Coast Guards historic known disinterest continues, illustrated by their failure to try and protect our country at a higher standard than the IMO an organization of foreign business interests. Sadly they have the only infrastructure to protect with testing and inspection. Standards that require mandatory technological hardware to clean ballast water from all substances are needed along with an infrastructure for enforcement, commanded by a leader who cares.
    We needed a President who will direct Congress to address the issue with legislation authorizing the Coast Guard to protect our citizens health from ballast water. A comprehensive plan of zero tolerance for all types of ballast pollution including the human pathogens and virus now being allowed dumped in our waters. (not a promise for after the next presidential election cycle)

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