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Testing of ballast water treatment plants

Since 2006 a team of experts from Wageningen Marine Research, are involved in the environmental risk assessment for ballast water treatment systems (BWTS) that use active ingredients under IMO guideline G9. Multiple BWTS have been tested since with different bioassays.

From 2009 onwards research on BWTS was expanded with efficacy testing according to IMO guideline G8 on pilot-scale in the laboratory and full-scale at a vendors land-based test facility.

As partner in the Interreg IVB North Sea Ballast Water Opportunity project (  Wageningen Marine Research is developing ecological risk assessment using multi-species outdoor mesocosm systems.

Wageningen Marine Research is studying the effectiveness of ballast water treatment plants at three levels

  • Comprehensive ecotoxicological knowledge is deployed to map the potential negative effects of the treatment system on the environment. This involves the use of various toxicity tests the so-called WET tests, on algae, crustaceans and fish. Wageningen Marine Research has specially trained personnel for the analyses in the eco-toxicological laboratory.
  • Research can also be conducted in more natural conditions at Wageningen Marine Research. This takes place in ’mesocosms’ – experimental ecosystems in ponds with a capacity of 2-5 m3. These ponds can also be used at an early stage of the development of a treatment system, for instance by serving as a pilot-scale ballast water tank and thereby allowing multiple treatment processes to be quickly and easily carried out in parallel.
  • To test the effects of ballast water in fresh- and brackish water Wageningen Marine Research has opened a land-based freshwater test facility in Den Helder, September 2013. This facility allows ballast water management systems to be tested, not only for certification purposes, but also to determine the environmental limits of their effectiveness. The tanks are located outdoors and testing can be carried out year-round and efficacy at low temperatures can be determined.