Discharge of ballast in US

In the article about the Golden Ray (The Missing Question from the NTSB Report on MV Golden Ray: WHY?  ) it is mentioned that material from the Ballast Water Treatment Plant is not allowed to be discharged in US waters. But this material is taken from the local water! Is this correct?

If I take in ballast water with the BWTP the system will flush the material gathered by the BWTP automatically. I don’t have the option to keep this on board for discharge to shore…

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Not familiar with BWTP but from this article in the Maritime Executive this issues looks to be sediment.

A common issue with BWM systems is filter clogging because it stops the ballast operation altogether. This interferes with the vessel’s operations causing costly down-time for ship owners and operators. It is an issue often experienced by vessels operating in muddy waters.

Problems with muddy water aside I’d think it’d be legal to backflush into the same waters.

In any case if the ship needed to take on ballast that was not muddy the distance between JAX and SSI (Brunswick) is about 40 miles or so and they took something like 8 hours to make the transit.

Could have gone out into deeper water and taken on the 2400 tons needed. Even in pre-ballast regulation days it was considered good practice to avoid taking on ballast in the river if possible.

The muddy waters is exactly my point.

the system I have will filter the larger particles out of the water before it enters the Ballast water treatment system and the water is treated. If the pressure drop over the filter is too much, this filter is flushed back and the particles go back overboard.

If it is true that the USCG does not allow this then most Treatment Plants cannot be used in US ports. I don’t believe that this is the case as my BWTP is approved for use in US waters.

You are right in my book. That makes no sense if it is true. Filtering is only done during ballasting not de-ballasting. So what is filtered out and back flushed is returning to where it came from. With a type approved unit how can that be not allowed? Maybe it was a misfire in the article. Started down the rabbit hole of those links and ended up at a 68 page CFR thang which I didn’t have time to read.

At any rate if stability was at issue couldn’t you just load anyway (without using the BWTP) with appropriate entry in ballast water management plan / log and do a ballast exchange at sea later. Better than capsizing.


Did an ALT-F of the one CFR using “sediment”. Mostly refers to the material which remains in the ballast tanks which is subject to regulation but also mention is made of sediment on the anchor and chain which the regs says should be hosed off when raising the anchor.

Presumably the same is true of material found in the filter of the BWTP.