State Will Take Public’s Views about Ballast on Board

Coos Bay entrance--invasive organisms in ballast water keep out!  Photo by Alex Derr.
Coos Bay entrance--invasive organisms in ballast water keep out! Photo by Alex Derr.

Oregon Shores played an active role in advocating for the state’s original regulation of ballast water back in the ‘90s, so we feel a certain proprietary interest in how these protections are administered.  Water drawn on board to serve as ballast on one side of the ocean and dumped on the other side can harbor invasive organisms.  A large percentage of the species found in estuaries such as Coos Bay are non-native, carried there before there were regulations requiring that ballast be dumped at sea rather than in the harbor.

The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) is in the midst of considering new rules for ballast water management, and has just announced that it is re-opening the public comment period.  DEQ has already accepted public comments earlier this year, but is accepting public comments again, submitted no later than 4 p.m. on Monday, October 24.

DEQ proposes the following changes to OAR 340, division number 143, that will:  

  • Require vessel operators to conduct a mid-ocean saltwater flush of empty ballast tanks prior to ballasting and subsequently de-ballasting from such tanks while in state waters; and
  • Retain ballast water exchange requirements, in addition to meeting new federal ballast water discharge standards, for a subset of vessel arrivals that represent a high risk for transporting aquatic invasive species to low-salinity harbors in Oregon.

Learn more about the process on the DEQ site for this rule-making.

You can also obtain more information about this rulemaking by contacting Rian Hooff of the DEQ, (503) 229-6865, [email protected].