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American Shipper

N.Y. ballast rule may close Oswego port

N.Y. ballast rule may close Oswego port

   The Port of Oswego Authority could be forced to close if New York moves forward to enforce rules governing the treatment of ballast water carried by commercial vessels on the St. Lawrence Seaway, local maritime industry officials warned.

   The rules require commercial vessels operating in New York waters must have ballast water treatment equipment by Jan. 1, 2012 that can meet a water quality standard 100 times greater than that established by the International Maritime Organization.

   Additionally, vessels built after Jan. 1, 2013, must have equipment that meets a standard 1,000 times higher than international standards.    No technology exists anywhere in the world to achieve this goal, industry officials said.

   'As the first U.S. port of call on the Great Lakes, the implications of these standards are disastrous,' said Jonathan Daniels, executive director of the Port of Oswego Authority, in a statement. 'The port directly employs 100 people and has a wider annual economic impact of more than $6 million.'

   The maritime industry in the region said it has worked with the U.S. and Canadian governments to ensure strong protections against the introduction of invasive species. All vessels entering the Great Lakes region must comply with the most stringent ballast management regulations in the world. Foreign vessels are required to pump out their ballast water while still at sea and flush any empty tanks with ocean water.

   Since these rules were put in place in 2006, there have been no new discoveries of aquatic nuisance species entering the Great Lakes via ballast water.

   Oswego handles about 150 ships a year from as far away as Brazil, the Netherlands, Russia and Indonesia. 'The thought of closing the port because our home state issued these regulations is inconceivable,' Daniels said.

   'I call on the State of New York to rescind these foolish regulations and work cooperatively with other Great Lakes states and the federal government to protect the environment without crashing the economy and putting more Americans out of work,' said Terry Johnson, administrator of the Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corp.