New regulations could impact shipping

"New environmental regulations set to increase control of ballast water treatment could have a major impact on ships entering Oswego Harbor.

"These new regulations, proposed by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, affect ships entering the waters west of Anticosti Island in Quebec, Canada, said Jonathan Daniels, Executive of the Port of Oswego Authority. Under the new regulations, all ships entering these seas are required to have a ballast water system that has a water quality standard 100 times higher than the standards set by the International Maritime Organization. That standard will be even higher for ships constructed after 2013. The standard will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2012.

""The difficulty I have is that these conditions are unobtainable," Daniels said.

"Ballast water is taken in by a ship to provide stability. When ships travel far, they can carry invasive species from one waterway to another, which can affect the ecosystems in negative ways.

"Daniels said that it is important to prevent the introduction of new invasive species into New York waters, but these regulations go too far. In recent years, there has been a 100 percent inspection rate for ballast systems on the St. Lawrence Seaway.

""In the past four years, new invasive species have not been introduced via ballast water," he said.

"Randy Bateman, mayor of the city of Oswego, said that about 10 to 12 years ago, an incident involving ballast water led to a severe zebra mussel problem on the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Seaway. Though the water is and remains clear, the zebra mussels clogged pipes and wells, causing millions of dollars worth of damage.

"The D.E.C. wants to further prevent incidents like this, Daniels said, but the new regulations place a nearly impossible standard on ships that do business in New York. No technology exists to reach the new criteria.

""My impression from what I’ve read and heard is that it will be a great hindrance to not only Oswego, but the whole Great Lakes, St. Lawrence system," Bateman said.

"Oswego Harbor deals with 13 different companies from ocean-going vessels to Laker ships, Daniels said. The harbor has anywhere from 120 to 150 vessels doing business per year. Daniels expects this number to drop once the new regulations are in effect. Many ships will not be able to fulfill the standards.

""Less shipment means less work, and less work means less employment," Bateman said.

"The Port of Oswego Authority and others sued the D.E.C. for the new regulations, but lost, according to an article in the Syracuse Post-Standard. Both Daniels and Bateman said that they want to bring in experts to further examine the regulations.

""[We want] to work hand-in-hand with the D.E.C. and other authorities to come up with a management plan that is workable," Daniels said.