Ozone Services Industries (OSI), a Johannesburg-based firm that uses environmentally-friendly ozone gas to purify air and water, has launched a maritime division to help ships safely dispose of contaminated ballast water.

Ozone Maritime Services (OMS) will invest in ballast water treatment systems supplied by its Swiss partner Ozonia that produce ozone from oxygen.

Says Ian Wright, Managing Director of OSI: “Our Swiss-designed equipment fuses oxygen and ozone molecules into a combination 3 000 times more powerful than chlorine to improve the quality of drinking water dramatically. The mandate of OMS is now to extend ozone purification from drinking water treatment to ballast water treatment.”

Because ozone acts like a broad-spectrum antibiotic for water it is ideally-suited to removing the odour, colour and micro-organisms found in stagnant ballast water. The safe disposal of ballast water is a worldwide problem. Discharging of untreated ballast water can introduce non-native species and pollutants.

The International Maritime Organisation (IMO) has developed the International Convention for the Control and Management of Ships’ Ballast Water and Sediments (the BWM Convention) to regulate discharges of ballast water by all ships trading internationally. To date, the BWM Convention has been ratified by 26 states which constituted 24% of the world’s merchant shipping fleet.

Significantly for companies like Ozone Services Industries, the Convention requires ballast water treatment to be used in place of ballast water exchange.

According to Lloyds Register’s Ballast Water Treatment Technology Guide, “With so few manufacturers able to supply…equipment to meet current demand, it is highly likely that in the short term there will be significant lead times for some of the more popular systems.” Ozone is recognised as a proven ballast water treatment system chemical by Lloyds.

According to Mr Wright, “Combine some of the planet’s most sensitive and valuable marine species, such as abalone, with over 2 500km of coastline, the busiest container port in Africa and increasing numbers of cruise liners docking here, and you realise just how much damage the dumping of utterly filthy ballast water, complete with foreign organisms, must be doing.

“While oil spills are viewed as the ultimate marine disaster, the problem with ballast water dumping is that is much more low key and insidious and that makes it more of a long term threat to our marine heritage.”

The state-of-the-art ballast treatment equipment is the very latest incarnation of ozone technology that is already proving its worth in water-stressed Southern Africa and beyond. In South Africa, the City of Tshwane’s Roodeplaat Water Treatment Works recently took delivery of R9 million worth of ozone water purification equipment. Other municipalities and water treatment plants using ozone to treat drinking water include Rietvlei, Vaalkops, Midvaal Water Company, Delmas and Plettenberg Bay.

In addition, equipment supplied by OSI is supplying clean drinking water to around 5 000 mining personnel on the Modikwa Platinum Mine near Steelport, on the border between Mpumalanga and Limpopo. In Mozambique, a 500m³ OSI ozone sewage treatment facility was installed to serve the All Africa Games Olympic Stadium and Village in Maputo. OSI Aquazone and Biozone water and sewage treatment facilities also serve people in Botswana, Zambia and Madagascar.