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New ballast rules near completion

Tom Jackson • Jun 28, 2012 at 5:00 AM

Ohio is close to adopting new ballast water rules designed to protect Lake Erie by reducing the risk of invasive species, creatures that aren’t native to Ohio that damage the environment.

The Ohio EPA will soon adopt new requirements for ships coming to Lake Erie that will govern discharges of ballast water, water that ships take into or discharge from their ballast tanks to make the ships more stable.

The new Ohio requirements will be supplement to U.S. EPA rules for ballast water that the federal agency is expected to adopt soon.

Ballast water discharges are blamed for some of the invasive species that have disrupted Lake Erie's environment. For example, zebra mussels definitely were inadvertently imported from the Black Sea area in Russian, said Eric Nygaard, an environmental specialist in the Permits & Compliance Section of the Division of Surface Water of the Ohio EPA.

Nygaard discussed Ohio's proposed requirements in a public hearing held Monday evening at Huron Public Library that attracted an audience of 10 people.

Ohio wants to add three main requirements to the federal rules, Nygaard said.

One is to do ballast water exchanging, flushing out fresh water ballast with salt water from the ocean to kill fresh water organisms.

A second is to make sure that biocides used to kill organisms in ballast water will meet Great Lakes water quality standards. A third is to avoid discharging salt water in enclosed Ohio harbors, he said.

The U.S EPA wants Ohio's new requirements by the end of September, Nygaard said.

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