176 Concord Street, P.O. Box 22287, Charleston, SC 29413-2287
Contact: Erin Dhand, Manager, Corporate Communications and Community Affairs
Telephone: 843-577-8121 • Fax: 843-577-8127 • e-mail: EDhand@scspa.com
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Ballast Water Issues
Charleston, SC - While ballast water is certainly an issue for ports all around the world, it is less of a problem for the Port of Charleston and the Global Gateway Terminal because of four reasons.
At its public facilities, the Ports Authority has a provision that
prohibits the exchange of ballast water. The SPA's terminal tariff,
which governs all vessels calling all SPA facilities, states in Rule
34-165, "Discharging ballast, rubbish or dunnage in the slips
or channels is prohibited. No vessel will be allowed to discharge
ballast at the facilities of the Authority. Vessels must obey all
Authority, local, state, national and international environmental
laws and regulations." All ships visiting SPA facilities are
governed by this rule, and they and their agents are aware of its
- Mandatory reporting will help find ways to reduce the risks of
In response to an Executive Order from President Clinton, the U.S.
Coast Guard issued mandatory reporting guidelines in 1999 and encouraged
open ocean ballast exchange, which is harmless. Ships entering U.S. ports from a foreign port must provide information on their ballast exchange to the U.S. government. The goal is to compile data to guide thoughtful and effective decision-making.
- National efforts to regulate the issue will take hold long before
the first phase of the Global Gateway Terminal is operational.
The data from mandatory reporting will be used to determine further
guidelines by the deadline in 2002. While visiting Charleston last
year, Admiral James Loy, who heads the U.S. Coast Guard, said they
will carefully study this issue. In addition, the Ports Authority
has encouraged the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources
to participate in an international solution through the International
- Charleston is better positioned to reduce the impacts than other
There are a number of natural and competitive factors that reduce
the risk of non-native species in Charleston harbor. As the fourth
busiest port in the nation, Charleston has the world's largest and
most modern ships. Containerships require less ballast than bulk
ships, and the newer vessels require less ballast. Unlike the Great
Lakes where ballast water has been a huge issue, Charleston harbor
flushes regularly with the tides and is not a freshwater system.
Finally, as mentioned in a report by DNR, most vessels calling Charleston
have already called at other U.S. ports.
- The Ports Authority prohibits the exchange of ballast water
at its facilities.
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BACKGROUND ON BALLAST WATER
What is Ballast Water?
Ballast is water taken aboard all modern ocean-going vessels to achieve the
required operating conditions. It is necessary to ensure the ship's stability
and safe operation. Stones provided the world's earliest form of ballast, many
of which were used in early cobblestone streets.
Ballast Not Bilge
Ballast water is NOT bilge water, or oily material discharge. There are very
strict U.S. laws and international regulations surrounding bilge. Under federal
law, unlawful discharge of machinery space bilge is prosecuted by the Department
of Justice in Federal District Court. In fact, it is no longer legal anywhere in
the world, either at sea or in port, to pump bilge directly overboard.
Efforts to Resolve the Ballast Water Issue
- In 1990 the U.S. Congress passed the Nonindigenous Aquatic Nuisance
Prevention and Control Act which mandated that the U.S. Coast Guard
develop regulations to prevent further ballast water introductions
into the Great Lakes.
- In 1993 the regulations became effective for vessels in the Great
- In October 1996, Congress enacted the National Invasive Species
Act of 1996, which expanded the scope of earlier regulations to
include all waters of the U.S.
- On Nov. 27, 1997, the International Maritime Organization adopted
a resolution "Guidelines for the Control and Management of
Ships' Ballast Water to Minimize the Transfer of Harmful Aquatic
Organisms and Pathogens."
- In February 1999, President Clinton issued an "Invasive Species"
Executive Order ordering seven federal agencies to establish an
Invasive Species Council to develop a cooperative strategy and management
plan by August 2000 to manage the threat.
- In July 1999, an interim rule was published by the U.S. Coast
Guard providing voluntary ballast water management guidelines for
vessels entering ports outside of the Great Lakes and a reporting
provision. These guidelines will become mandatory in 2002