Underwater Hull Cleaning in Dutch Ports Allowed on Ecospeed Vessels

The Dutch Ministry of Transport, Public Works and Water Management has determined that Ecospeed coatings is at present the “Best Available Technology” for non-toxic systems and allows underwater cleaning and conditioning without negatively impacting the environment, according to Subsea Industries. The company said that only Ecospeed has been able to meet the criteria for environmentally safe in-water cleaning stipulated by the Dutch.

The Netherlands was one of the first countries to practically ban in-water cleaning of ship hulls in order to avoid the release of TBT. Ships moored in ports continue to leach biocides, which leads to accumulation in sediments, according to a Subsea press release.

A research project funded by the European Commission, called the ECOTEC-STC, has confirmed the ecological and economical advantages of the Ecospeed coating, Subsea stated. One of the first tasks has been to validate that Ecospeed is completely free of biocides throughout its lifecycle. The Dutch Ministry of Transport carried out an elaborate study of effluent samples which has conclusively shown that no toxins are released at any stage, either at application, during curing or during in-water treatment. The measurements further showed that during conditioning only non-toxic fine particulate matter is released.

Over the last several years, there have also been concerns that non-indigenous species (NIS) are increasingly transported by fouled hulls. Once a hull becomes heavily fouled, a situation occurs where there is an increased risk of transporting NIS that should be remedied by defouling activities, either by out-of-water removal or by underwater cleaning. In this respect, underwater cleaning has come under some scrutiny out of fear that viable NIS are released and spread, rather than contained and disposed of by the operation.

The underwater cleaning of Ecospeed, however, can be regarded as a safety measure that prevents, rather than remedies, the spread of NIS. Firstly, Ecospeed can be cleaned on a regular basis without damaging the coating’s surface. The cleaning interval is optimized to minimize fouling and the associated increase in fuel consumption. In other words, regular cleaning prevents heavy fouling from occurring and at the same time presents an opportunity to inspect so-called niche areas. Secondly, Ecospeed is a very durable coating that withstands abrasive cleaning for which very effective specialized tools have been developed. As a result, fouling organisms will be crushed during cleaning and will be neutralized. Moreover, Ecospeed improves its texture with abrasive cleaning therefore producing the best possible hull performance.

In December 2009 a full underwater hull cleaning was carried out in Rotterdam on Baltic Swan which was coated with Ecospeed in 2008. It is the first time since 1992 that the underwater cleaning of a ship’s hull has taken place in a Dutch port.


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