Marine Invasives Spawn Innovations and a Multi-Billion Dollar Industry

Technological innovations that eliminate invasive aquatic species and pathogensfrom ship ballast water are spurring the growth of a multi-billion dollar industry.

Ballast — water pumped into holds to balance and stabilize ships, sometimes by the millions of gallons — is often loaded from one waterway and discharged into another, in a different part of the planet. The global threat of harmful organisms that hitch a ride aboard international vessels first gained serious worldwide attention through the Ballast Water Working Group and the Ballast Water Management Convention that emerged from the 1992 Earth Summit. Both are overseen by the UN’s International Maritime Organization (IMO).

1983 video capture of John Cronin bringing the 25-foot Hudson Riverkeeper vessel alongside the hull of a 750-foot Exxon oil tanker to sample its ballast discharge, with crew mate Andra Sramek (in orange foul weather gear).

1983 video capture of John Cronin bringing the 25-foot Hudson Riverkeeper vessel alongside the hull of a 750-foot Exxon oil tanker to sample its ballast discharge, with crew mate Andra Sramek (in orange foul weather gear).

In an exchange of emails, Gail A. Gerono, Vice President of Investor Relations and Communications for Calgon Carbon Corporation in Pittsburgh, PA, wrote, “Estimates of the size of the ballast water treatment market range from $15 billion to $30 billion. This includes new ships (approximately 2,000 per year) and retrofits of existing ships (approximately 40,000). Based on the IMO Convention’s compliance dates and the US Coast Guard’s regulation, the market should peak around 2017.”

In 2014, Calgon acquired Hyde Marine, which specializes in ballast treatment technology. “While looking for possible acquisition candidates, one of our executives learned about Hyde Marine and the pending IMO Convention to treat ballast water,” said Ms. Gerono.

Calgon’s move into the ballast treatment arena offers a lesson that applies to a host of other water issues, global and domestic, in particular the Federal Clean Water Act(see Section 101), the primary goals of which expired unaccomplished three decades ago. From ballast discharges to untreated pharmaceuticals in water, the path from problem to solution usually leads through the marketplace and its entrepreneurs.