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Press Release: Belgian Government selects Chelsea Technologies for ballast water compliance benchmarking

PRESS RELEASE: The Federal Public Service (FPS) Mobility and Transport, the arm of the Belgian government responsible for shipping, has selected Chelsea Technologies, a world leader in the design and manufacture of sensors for the maritime sector and a Sonardyne company, to provide benchmark portable testing for compliance with ballast water standards. This follows the Belgian government’s decision to begin testing vessels calling at its ports and terminals to ensure they can demonstrate compliance with the IMO’s Ballast Water Management Convention (BWMC), representing one of the first European nations to enforce this mandate.

Chelsea Technologies’ FastBallast portable ballast water analyser has been chosen by the FPS following a thorough evaluation of portable ballast water tools available on the market. FastBallast will be deployed as a benchmark testing device to conduct spot checks on indicative sampling of vessels arriving into any Belgian port. Following a detailed technical review, FastBallast was identified as the most accurate solution for portable sampling of ballast water that allows Port State Control (PSC) to target vessels for laboratory compliance testing, as well as providing shipowners with the assurance that their ballast water treatment system is operating effectively, mitigating the risk of potentially significant fines and costly delays.  

The variance in portable ballast water testing standards is creating a significant challenge for regulators as they look to develop and establish agreed guidance for portable testing that ensures compliance with the BWMC, and this ambiguity is creating challenges for PSC even as the industry continues to embrace and adopt portable testing. FastBallast’s unique interrogation method operates independently of variable fluorescence per cell, ensuring that cell densities are reported as accurately as testing via microscopy. 

Dr Brian Phillips, Executive Chairman of Chelsea Technologies, commented:

‘It is testament to the confidence of the FPS in the unrivalled accuracy and reliability of FastBallast that it has been selected as the gold standard for ballast water sampling in ensuring compliance with the IMO Ballast Water Management Convention. Accurate testing eliminates the risk of any ambiguity over results, potential fines, delays and reputational damage as well as protecting the environment by preventing the spread of invasive aquatic species.

‘Allied to this, confidence in the accuracy of ballast water treatment systems is essential to ensure compliance with environmental regulations, as inaccurate testing and false readings could lead to delays with port state control and potentially significant fines, risking reputational damage, as well as the impact of non-compliant discharges on the environment.’

Chelsea Technologies’ FastBallast uses a statistical method to generate an estimate of cell density that is independent of an assumed level of fluorescence per cell, in order to achieve the most accurate reading. FastBallast conducts sampling based on the Poisson distribution theory which ensures a true analysis of the ballast water sample, providing a pass/fail response in under 10 minutes, and is the only technology capable of operating easily in a continuous flow-through mode, while providing a high degree of accuracy.

Rigorous benchmark laboratory testing conducted by independent leading authorities has identified the Single Turnover One Pulse (STOP) statistical methodology used by FastBallast as an accurate method for shipboard ballast water testing. FastBallast is currently being used to conduct compliance tests on board vessels in Saudi Arabian, Belgian and Chinese ports.  

Chelsea Technologies is working closely with regulators including the IMO and port authorities as a trusted and workable international standard is developed for portable ballast water sampling and analysis, one that is based on a proven methodology for representative sampling and analysis. The company has already initiated discussions with accreditation authorities and is undergoing a process of third-party protocol testing.

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