Options for Refining Ballast Water Treatment Protocols Will Arise Pending the Results of a Proposed Study:
Ship ballast water used to maintain the stability and structural integrity of the vessel has long since been linked to the spread of non-native species across the globe. When a ship takes cargo, its ballast water is discharged to offset the additional weight of the cargo. An unintended consequence of this discharge is the subsequent release of non-native species into the port where the ship is docked. Invasive species have been associated with health risks and ecological and economic effects. The estimated cost of invasive species damages exceeds 138 billion dollars in the United States (Tsolaki et, al., 2009). Rapid growth of the shipping industry has further facilitated the exchange of not only consumer goods but also species “stowed away” in ships’ ballast water. Over 80% of the world’s goods are moved by shipping accounting for the transfer of 10 billion tons of ballast water annually (Boldor et. al., 2008). As the shipping industry cannot be expected to reduce its’ scale or operations, steps must be taken to ensure that ballast water is not carrying potentially harmful invasives.
Several methods exist for the elimination of species taken in with ballast water thereby eliminating the risk that these species are introduced into foreign environments. Port-based treatment involves treating the ballast water in portside treatment facilities requireing that the ballast water be pumped out of a ship’s tanks before it is treated. Shipboard treatment involves treating the ballast water onboard the ship using physical methods (filtration), mechanical treatments (microwave heating or ultraviolet light), or chemicals (biocides, chlorine, ozone, and hydrogen peroxide) (Tsolaki et. al., 2009). All of these methods vary both in removal efficiencies and cost. To determine the best option for ballast water treatment, Kevin Shia has proposed a study to evaluate the best method of ballast water treatment. Working under the research questions “can ballast water treatments reduce a significant number of foreign species while being environmentally safe and inexpensive? Will port-based or shipboard treatment be the most successful at removing the majority of foreign species?” (Shia, in production), Shia hopes to determine a protocol for the effective and cost-efficient treatment of ballast water. Shia expects that both port-based and shipboard treatments will significantly reduce the number of invasive species in ballast water further asserting his conviction that shipboard treatments utilizing mechanical separation will be the safest, most economical, and efficient. In order to test this hypothesis, Shia proposed a study of species populations in ballast water on one trade route. After taking initial tallies of species found in ballast water, Shia will test 5 port-based treatments, and 9 shipboard treatments’ (3 mechanical, 3 chemical, and three combined) effects on species populations in ballast water. Shia will utilize DNA testing to indicate the presence of species in ballast water. A main goal of the study is the establishment of an effective ballast water treatment protocol to reduce the number of species found in ballast water. The study should provide information on the economic and environmental cost of each treatment method with respect to its effectiveness for removing invasives. The results of this study will also be directly applied to industrial engineering. Better information on ballast water treatment methods allows engineers to make decisions when designing both ships and ports. In this way, the negative effects of invasive species can be mitigated through the installation of efficient, inexpensive, and environmentally safe ballast water treatment systems in ports and on ships.