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Interview With Ballast Water Expert Sunil Sarangi

Entrepreneur and ballast water treatment expert Sunil Sarangi has been making some tremendous strides in aquatic control and technology. He has authored several articles on Marine Engineering and Ballast Water Treatment issues and has spoken at numerous symposia and conferences during the past decade. Recently, I had the opportunity to chat with Mr. Sarangi and gain perspective about his career and what inspires him. I am sure you will enjoy our discussion.

Warlock Asylum: What is Ballast Water?

Sunil Sarangi: – For the safety and stability of the ship from bad weather conditions, thousands of gallons of seawater is pumped into the ship’s tanks, this water is called ballast water and the tanks that were filled with this water is called ballast tanks. Every ocean-going vessel has ballast tanks, for this reason, the size of the tanks varies depending on the vessel specifications.

Warlock Asylum: Why do we all need to be concerned with the discharge of ballast water?

Sunil Sarangi: – During the uptake of ballast water into the ship’s tanks, there are many harmful marine aquatic organisms and pathogens will go inside the tanks, these organisms and pathogens survive inside the ballast tanks and when they are discharged back into the ocean, they cause drastic damage to the coastal regions.

Warlock Asylum: Can you name some organisms?

Sunil Sarangi: – There are thousands of invasive aquatic species transferred around the world in ballast water every single day. Let me give you examples of few invasive species that have invaded to damage our marine ecology every single second.

Zebra Mussels, Golden Mussels, North American Comb Jellyfish, The Cladoceran Water Flea, North Pacific Seastar, Round Goby, Chinese Mitten Crab, Cholera, European Green Crab, Toxic Algae, Asian Kelp, Spiny Water Flea, Veined Rapa Whelk, The Red Mysid Shrimp and Vicious Chinese Snakehead Fish.

Warlock Asylum: What is the damage caused by the ballast water to the countries?

Sunil Sarangi: – According to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Services reports that invasive species cost the United States more than $120 Billion in damages per year. Invasive species are a leading factor in freshwater fish extinctions and endangerments. Great Lakes Region spends $200 million to control the invasive species from ships ballast water tanks.

Warlock Asylum: Give an example of damage caused in the United States and what regulations are currently in place?

Sunil Sarangi: – Studies suggest that the economic cost just from the introduction of pest mollusks (zebra mussels, the Asian clam, and others) to U.S. aquatic ecosystems is more than $6 billion per year. Congress passed the National Invasive Species Act in 1996 in order to regulate ballast water discharges. The Coast Guard issued ballast water regulations in 2012. Under the authority of the Clean Water Act, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published its latest Vessel General Permit in 2013. The permit sets numeric ballast water discharge limits for commercial vessels. EPA issued a separate permit for smaller commercial vessels in 2014.

Warlock Asylum: Do all ships required to have a ballast treatment system?

Sunil Sarangi: – According to the regulations, The Ballast Water Treatment Convention was entered into 100% force on 8th September 2017. As per this convention, all ships that carry ballast water must have an approved treatment system that is functional.

Warlock Asylum: What type of ballast water treatment methods and approaches available in the market?

Sunil Sarangi: – I can say there are 3 major approaches –
  • Mechanical, Chemical and Physical
  • Mechanical approach – Filtration, Cyclonic Separation, Electro-Mechanical Separation.
  • Physical approach – Ozone & UV radiation
  • Chemical approach – Biocides, Non-oxidizing biocides, Oxidizing biocides.
Warlock Asylum: How many different ballast water treatment technologies available in the market?

Sunil Sarangi: Filter and UV, Filter and electrolysis, Ozone, Chemical injection

Warlock Asylum: Which ballast water treatment system do you recommend?

Sunil Sarangi: – First, make sure the system you are selecting must have the Type Approval Certificate as this will save a lot of troubles. I do not recommend any particular system because not all treatment systems are good for all ships.  Ships are unique and one treatment system does not fit all. Before, shopping for a treatment system we need to know 4 important details of the ship, they are 1) Type of vessel 2) Vessel operational profile 3) What type of waters is the ship operating (Fresh Water or Brackish Water etc.,) 4) What type of climate conditions (Cold or warm). These 4 questions will give you an idea of which treatment system works best for your vessel.

Warlock Asylum: Can you name some Type Approved Systems?

Sunil Sarangi: – De Nora, Erma First, Cosco, Wartsila, Desmi, HHI, Techcross, Headway, Envirocleanse, Optimarin, Bio-Uv, Alfa Laval, Ecochlor, OceanSaver, Sunrui, Panasia, JFE, Cathelco, Alfa Laval, Samsung

Warlock Asylum: Are there any treatment options to not to treat the ballast water on board the ships?

Sunil Sarangi: – Yes, there are two options 1) Port-Based treatment & 2) Onboard Treatment

In the Port-Based treatment, the vessel must transfer the ballast water to an offshore facility to be treated but, I personally do not recommend this option because a) it’s expensive b) offshore treatment facilities are not available at all ports.

In the case Onboard treatment option, there are many technologies available to choose from and the vessel is free to treat the water at their will and does not have to be dependent on 3rd party to treat the ballast water.

Warlock Asylum: How much does a system cost? What other costs the vessel owners should be prepared for when selecting a ballast water treatment system?

Sunil Sarangi: – These systems are not cheap. Cost varies depending upon manufacturers’ technology and size of the ship’s ballast capacity. I would say anywhere between 1 million USD – 4 million USD per ship.

One must remember that there are Ballast treatment system cost + Shipyard Installation cost + Operational costs + Maintenance cost.

*Thanks once again Mr. Sarangi for educating us about your work with ballast water and sharing some really inspiring thoughts and benefits that come when pursuing your dreams. Wishing you all the best in the business endeavors.