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Transportation Earth Science

Using Microwaves To Cook Ballast Stowaways 186

Posted by kdawson
from the avast-and-adios dept.
Smivs writes "US researchers say they have developed an effective way to kill unwanted plants and animals that hitch a ride in the ballast waters of cargo vessels. Tests showed that a continuous microwave system was able to remove all marine life within the water tanks. The UN lists 'invasive species' dispersed by ballast water discharges as one of the four main threats to the world's marine ecosystems. For example European zebra mussels (Dreissena polymorpha) have infested more than 40% of the US's inland waterways. Between 1989 and 2000, up to $1B is estimated to have been spent on controlling the spread of the alien invader."
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Using Microwaves To Cook Ballast Stowaways

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  • Too little too late (Score:5, Informative)

    by dreamchaser (49529) on Monday May 12, 2008 @09:30PM (#23386630) Homepage Journal
    Even if this works, in many cases invasive species are already well entrenched and the damage is done. The example cited of the zebra mussels, for instance, has created a huge problem for some inland fisheries in the US. The problem has been known for years but nobody has really tried to do much about it until now.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by jafiwam (310805)
      They are causing lots of extra costs (and problems) with power plants in the Great Lakes too. They like the warm ejecta water, and screw up the exit pipes for the power plants.

      Too bad they don't taste good.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Hojima (1228978)
        Some environmentalist has to tell me why we don't just import its natural predator. And don't give me crap about 'well it could be an invasive species too.' If it's high up the food chain, it will be forced to live in equilibrium with its prey. Has it ever even been tried?
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by atraintocry (1183485)
          I don't know about that specific case, but generally introducing predators isn't done any more because it's kind of like using water to put out a grease fire. Actually it's probably more like using more grease to put out a grease fire...
          • by ghostis (165022) on Monday May 12, 2008 @10:41PM (#23387110) Homepage
            That being said, don't starfish eat mussels? I recall seeing a sped up video of some starfish decimating a group of mussels over an afternoon. Finding a zebra mussel-eating starfish may not solve the issue, but the footage was incredible! ;)

            -ghostis
          • by tomhudson (43916) <barbara.hudsonNO@SPAMbarbara-hudson.com> on Monday May 12, 2008 @10:45PM (#23387132) Journal

            The great lakes were dying from pollution before the zebra mussels.

            At least the water that goes downstream is cleaner than it would be otherwise.

            Hey, when life hands you a lemon ...

          • by robbak (775424)
            They do, but they are much more careful about it. The days of one biologist saying "Hey, these big Hawaiian toads should clean up that beetle problem pretty good!", throwing a couple in a box and shipping them are (thankfully) gone.
            But, after an awful lot of testing that no native animals will be seriously harmed, predator animals (usually insects) are regularly used.
          • by dfm3 (830843) on Tuesday May 13, 2008 @10:28AM (#23390856) Journal
            That's not quite true. I work in the plant pathology field of study and introducing a predator species as a biological control of a pest is a fairly accepted practice. For example, a group at Virginia Tech is currently working with species of Laricobius, a beetle which is a predator of the hemlock woolly adelgid.

            Of course, if you are going to be introducing a non native species, you'd better be absolutely sure you know what you're doing. There are countless regulatory obstacles that typically need to be overcome, too, and it can take years before a species is approved to be released from quarantine into the field, if it ever is.

            Typically, an introduced organism becomes a pest for one of two reasons: 1) it's a generalist that is a better competitor for resources than existing species (as is the case with the zebra mussel, which is unbelievably effective at filtering particulate organic matter from the water and subsequently undergoing rapid population growth) or 2) it becomes a pest or pathogen of a particular existing species. Many introduced plant pathogens fall into this second category- they have no natural predators in the new environment, as well as a food source that has not evolved any defense mechanisms against them. The balsam woolly adelgid or the chestnut blight fungus are two examples of the latter.

            Although there are probably cases where introducing a new predator species can cause more problems than it solves (remember that Simpsons episode?), with careful planning and understanding of the ecology of the organism, such issues can hopefully be avoided. Usually, we err too far on the side of caution by choosing a species that is too much of a specialist, and we don't get the results we would hope for. Remember the Laricobius beetles I mentioned earlier? One problem with them is that they are so specialized, that when the hemlock woolly adelgid starts to become scarce the beetles have no other food source and begin to decline as well. They have no other food source, and thus have essentially no effect on existing native species.
        • by Dahamma (304068) on Monday May 12, 2008 @10:24PM (#23387002)
          Skinner: Well, I was wrong; the lizards are a godsend.
          Lisa: But isn't that a bit short-sighted? What happens when we're overrun by lizards?
          Skinner: No problem. We simply release wave after wave of Chinese needle snakes. They'll wipe out the lizards.

          Lisa: But aren't the snakes even worse?
          Skinner: Yes, but we're prepared for that. We've lined up a fabulous type of gorilla that thrives on snake meat.
          Lisa: But then we're stuck with gorillas!
          Skinner: No, that's the beautiful part. When wintertime rolls around, the gorillas simply freeze to death.
        • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 12, 2008 @10:31PM (#23387048)
          In Australia the Cane Toad was introduced as a natural predator for the imported ("i forget") species. It turned out to be much worse than the original problem.
          • by gringer (252588)
            Er, cane toad. Dealt with creepy crawlies that liked living within cane (i.e. sugar cane).
          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by Anonymous Coward
            Cane toad ( Marine toad in USA ) introduced to control cane beetle. The toad can't jump more than a few centermeters while the beetle lives near the top of the cane. Also the toad doesn't like cane fields and preferes waterways

            It wasn't the best laid out plan.

            If you do introduce a predator you have to ensure it is specialized for the target species and can not adapt to other creatures. The only sucessful release that I know of is the cactoblastis beetle which almost wiped out the pickly pear introduced into
          • by robbak (775424)
            It was imported to feed on the native "cane beetles" causing issues in the sugar plantations.

            As the other comments stated, it was not a success.
          • by Culture20 (968837)

            In Australia the Cane Toad was introduced as a natural predator for the imported ("i forget") species.
            Rabbits?
        • by NeutronCowboy (896098) on Monday May 12, 2008 @10:32PM (#23387068)
          Yes, it has. Snakes were introduced into one of the Indonesian islands to deal with an introduced toad. Turns out that some of the indigenous animals were a lot easier for the snakes to catch. As a result, the local animal life is not only threatened by the toads, but also by the snake. If I'm off on the details, my apologies - I couldn't find the original story. This isn't the only story though. There have been a few attempts to introduce natural predators, and they've generally all turned up atrocious and unpredicted side effects. The reason this isn't done is because it's been tried before, and the end-result wasn't any better.
          • by CastrTroy (595695) on Monday May 12, 2008 @10:48PM (#23387150) Homepage
            The only cases I've heard of that working in is where we "reintroduced" predators back into their natural habitat. We killed off a bunch of wolves, and then restored their population successfully. I don't think it's ever been done to bring in a foreign predator.
          • by Fred_A (10934)

            Yes, it has. Snakes were introduced into one of the Indonesian islands to deal with an introduced toad. Turns out that some of the indigenous animals were a lot easier for the snakes to catch. As a result, the local animal life is not only threatened by the toads, but also by the snake. If I'm off on the details, my apologies - I couldn't find the original story.

            A variant of this is almost always what happens. Which is why this kind of thing isn't done this way any more.

            Predators are sometimes used in their native habitat as pest control, like ladybugs or predator wasps released en-masse or (not predators as such) sterilised males to help curb the number of a given insect or things of the kind.

        • by Aydsman (718016) on Monday May 12, 2008 @10:39PM (#23387098) Homepage

          Some environmentalist has to tell me why we don't just import its natural predator. And don't give me crap about 'well it could be an invasive species too.' If it's high up the food chain, it will be forced to live in equilibrium with its prey. Has it ever even been tried?
          Well in other cases, yes - it has been tried [wikipedia.org]. Unfortunately that hasn't worked out so well.
        • by belmolis (702863) <billposer@@@alum...mit...edu> on Monday May 12, 2008 @11:13PM (#23387322) Homepage

          The problem is that predators usually are not restricted to a single kind of prey, so they will not only control the organism you want to get rid of but prey on indigenous species that you don't want it to. A case in point is the rabbit problem in New Zealand, which has no indigenous mammals. Introducing predators such as foxes or coyotes is not an acceptable solution because they will also eat the various species of flightless birds. Even when there is a specialized predator, it is very difficult to be sure that it will stay specialized.

          • by shawb (16347)
            There's another BIG reason that introducing predators is a risky endeavor. The prey species that you wish to control has evolved with defense from the predator species. Native life has not. Hence, it may be far easier for the predator to prey on the natives than the organism you wish to control.
          • As God is my witness I thought turkeys could fly.
            • by Cytotoxic (245301)
              Heh, next to the "phone cops" episodes, that was the funniest thing ever. Thanks for activating that brain cell. I probably haven't thought of that in 20 years.

              Man, we're old. Remember when those old guys used to tell you how great Jackie Gleason was? Yeah, Les Nesman is older than that was. Dang.

              "Oooh, I'm obtuse. 'An angle greater than 90 degrees. Rounded at the free end....'" - Les Nesman
          • by MrScience (126570)

            New Zealand, which has no indigenous mammals
            Minor nit: There are two species of native bats...
            http://www.doc.govt.nz/templates/summary.aspx?id=33095 [doc.govt.nz]
        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by Fifth Earth (1172333)
          The problem is most high-level predator species don't eat only one thing. Whenever this is tried, invariably the predator species eats some of the invasive species, but also eats ALL of some other native species.

          Even if the predators are able to effectively kill off the invader (which they often aren't), and they don't just switch to some other native species, then the predators start dying too. Eventually, the predator goes extinct due to lack of food supply, but some small portion of the original invader
        • It's this kind of naive thinking that has been the cause of many of these problems. Hopefully you're just trolling.
        • by TapeCutter (624760) * on Tuesday May 13, 2008 @12:32AM (#23387730) Journal
          Come to Australia, we have bettles, toads, horses, donkeys, water buffalo, pigs, rabbits, foxes, mice, rats, sparrows, starlings, starfish and more wild camels than Saudi Arabia. Every single one of them plus the many species I have ommited are pests.
          • by ColdWetDog (752185) * on Tuesday May 13, 2008 @01:24AM (#23387968) Homepage

            Come to Australia, we have bettles, toads, horses, donkeys, water buffalo, pigs, rabbits, foxes, mice, rats, sparrows, starlings, starfish and more wild camels than Saudi Arabia. Every single one of them plus the many species I have ommited are pests.

            Have you considered removing them from your flat? That might make a difference on how you look at wildlife.

        • by Ihlosi (895663)
          Some environmentalist has to tell me why we don't just import its natural predator.

          Because the overwhelming majority of predators do not rely on a single food source. They will eat what's easiest to catch, which may or may not be what you actually want them to eat.

          And don't give me crap about 'well it could be an invasive species too.'

          I'm not going to give you any speculative crap, I'll just bet you $10 that the predator will be an invasive species, too.

          If it's high up the food chain, it will be forced to

        • Yes it has been tried, the trouble is the predators don't always eat what you want them to eat, sometimes they preffer the local wildlife to the species you are trying to control.
        • Yep. The problem is, sometimes the predator finds the the non-invasives to be tastier, so it just makes the problem worse. The best example of this is the Cane Toad [wikipedia.org]...It eats anything, and reproduces quickly, so it's great for knocking out beetle plagues, and such like.

          Unfortunately it will eat anything, and it reproduces rapidly, and, to make it even better, it's poisonous to eat, so the things that would normally control their population eat them and die.

          Biological control of invasives works, but you have
        • Some environmentalist has to tell me why we don't just import its natural predator. And don't give me crap about 'well it could be an invasive species too.' If it's high up the food chain, it will be forced to live in equilibrium with its prey. Has it ever even been tried?

          Why don't you ask australia?
      • They do taste good, to Gobies. And Smallmouth Bass eat the gobies*. You have to love those adaptive ecosystems. In the Great Lakes they have benefited the SCUBA divers somewhat. Because of the explosion in filter feeders, some areas that used to be pea-soup, now have visibility up to 20ft.

        *except the gobies eat all manner of crap and killed off a good chunk of the bass population during an e. coli outbreak.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Tablizer (95088)
      The example cited of the zebra mussels, for instance, has created a huge problem

      But without muscles, zebras would be all floppy and squishy. Plus, zoo revenue would go down. Who wants to watch a flat patch of stripes laying on the field?

            -1 Lame

       
    • by v1 (525388)
      I've seen stories on IPTV at least eight years ago. It's hardly a new problem, and certainly hasn't been ignored until now. The fisheries were actually one of the featured issues in the documentary on the zebra mussel "invasion".

      But this is just evolution at work. Whenever a species makes a beachhead on a new environment there's an immediate conflict with native species. Whoever is better adapted wins. Because this is so sudden, on an evolutionary timeline, there's no time to adapt - either you're read
    • Hmm, there's a lot incorrect here.

      First, there are new invasive species arriving at about 1 every 6 months in eg. the US Great lakes. So the damage is not done.

      Second, the problem has been known for years and people have been trying to correct it since it's been known. It's been almost impossible to find a cheap, eco friendly system for sterilizing ballast water, although folks have been trying for several years now.

      There have also been efforts to legally regulate the overboard discharge of water fr

    • Too little, too late?

      Excellent! If it's too late to do anything about the problem, then there's no need to impose additional costs on commerce, to implement pointless ballast-microwaving solutions. I take it you agree we should leave cargo ship ballast systems as they are, and invest our resources elsewhere?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 12, 2008 @09:38PM (#23386694)
    Microwaves confuse the molecules and these molecules of nutrition then misbehave and cause disorders such as cancer, diabetes and hair loss. This would be detrimental to anything that ate the food that was microwaved.

    A better solution, I propose, is to simply put some spent nuclear fuel into the ballast tank to kill off any invasive species before dumping the ballast water.

    Posing as AC b/c I work for an environmental consulting firm...and my boss would fire me if he knew I was this "green".
  • by StudMuffin (167171) on Monday May 12, 2008 @09:38PM (#23386704) Homepage
    I thought this was a method to take care of STOWAWAYS. you know, like people trying to sneak into the country.

    My first thought was, "Wow, that sounds effective."

    My second was, "But that is kinda harsh."

    My thirs, "Cooooooool."
    • by JonTurner (178845) on Monday May 12, 2008 @09:51PM (#23386808) Journal
      Same thought, here! I was picturing this system being adapted to zap those poor schmucks that hold onto the landing gear of jet aircraft. At least they wouldn't have to worry any more about freezing to death at high altitude.

      "Excuse me, stewardess? Is something burning in the kitchen? Smells like bologna..."
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Chris Burke (6130)
      My first thought was, "Wow, that sounds effective."

      My second was, "But that is kinda harsh."

      My thirs, "Cooooooool."


      Wait... are you counting your thoughts, or your Alabama Slammers?
    • by turing_m (1030530)
      Stowaways? On this 'ere ship we prefer to make 'em walk the plank... that is, if they survive the keelhauling. Arrr!
    • by elrous0 (869638) *
      My first thought was "Hey, I know how Johnathan Hillstrand can get Phil Harris back for that truck practical joke on 'Deadliest Catch' this season!" Sure, Phil will lose a few crab, but think of the laugh the home audience will have when they offload.
  • The Fail Boat (Score:5, Interesting)

    by keytoe (91531) on Monday May 12, 2008 @09:42PM (#23386724) Homepage

    If you've seen pictures of the Fail Boat [flickr.com] around the internet, you might be interested to know the story behind it [wired.com] (link is to printer version). In short, the whole ordeal happened as a result of the requirement that they dump ballast water before entering US waters. The story on Wired covers the accident as well as the salvage operation and is an excellent read.

    It appears that this is a dangerous enough process that it was worth eliminating it. That, or they're just trying to cut down on travel time by not having to stop - but that's just the cynic in me talking.

    • Re:The Fail Boat (Score:5, Interesting)

      by jcnnghm (538570) on Monday May 12, 2008 @10:42PM (#23387116)
      Sorry to nitpick, but I'd say the cause was more directly a result of failed ballast tank equipment. It would have happened eventually with or without the law.
      • by dave420 (699308)
        The ship sank because they were changing the water in the tanks, not emptying or filling the tanks. They were trying to maintain a constant amount of ballast. If their pumps failed when they were taking on or emptying ballast, the problems wouldn't have been so severe as capsizing in international waters, as the buoyancy difference across the ship wouldn't be anyway near so high.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Hey, thanks! Just a few weeks ago I read an article in the Wall Street Journal [wsj.com] about the cars that were on that ship and the methods that Mazda is using to dispose of them. It's interesting to read about the accident that led to that strange situation.
      • I also read it with interest. This was in the local news when it happened, because the local Coast Guard station responded, and the ship put into Portland for its initial repairs and to offload the cars.

        At the time, it was thought that Mazda was going salvage title the cars, which would allow them to be sold as "totalled and rebuilt," no warranty, as-is. I'm flabbergasted by the WSJ report that they weren't simply junked, but outright destroyed. A major waste if you ask me, and I'm not typically the sort
    • by vought (160908)
      You seem to be arguing that mismanaged ballast dumping is an argument against all ballast dumping.

      I can't see how one crew's mistake among thousands is an effective argument against dumping potentially infected ballast water well offshore. Lost Mazdas or not.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by FooAtWFU (699187)

        He's simply arguing that the mistake highlights a risk (and an inconvenience) which may be avoided by the mechanism described in TFA, while still addressing the problems which necessitate the ballast dumping in the first place.

        (Whether or not the proposed mechanism is, in fact, adequate, feasible, or ultimately desirable/undesirable in a global deployment is, however, beyond the scope of this particular facet of the discussion).

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Instead of microwaves, use the waste heat generated by the ship's engines.
  • by DesScorp (410532) <DesScorp@NOsPam.Gmail.com> on Monday May 12, 2008 @09:45PM (#23386748) Homepage Journal
    With modern transportation, and international trade flourishing across the globe, "invasive species" are the cost of doing business. There's simply no way we'll be able to stop many of these migrations in the long run. Life will simply have to adapt.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by atraintocry (1183485)
      The problem is that while the benefits are mostly localized, the "costs" affect all of us. I'm not going to lay the blame on the shipping companies, but if people are trying to come up with a solution then let's go with that instead of trying to "adapt" the consequences of our own stupidity.
    • by dave420 (699308)
      You're making one hell of an assumption. They're not the cost of doing business, but the cost of not caring enough to ensure they don't get transported along with your cargo. That's it. They're not unavoidable.
  • Invasive species? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by onpermvaca (988042)
    Why is success being punished?
    • by FooAtWFU (699187)
      Because the zebra mussel's success leads to failures in other things, which people typically like and care about. Niceties like biodiversity, and conveniences like the ability to have (say) some sort of intake pipe, or boat anchor, or boat hull, underwater that doesn't get absolutely encrusted with creatures.
    • Does it still count as success if you eat your food source to extinction then die of starvation?
    • by Jesus_666 (702802)
      It reduces biodiversity (ideological argument when taken on its own), which sometimes can lead to certain areas developing unwanted characteristics, such as lack of fish (economical argument) - and with science finding unexpected uses for species, each species we drive to extinction is one species we can't use in that way (another economical one).

      The zebra mussel thing would be an example for argument 2 - as I understand, it causes problems for the US inland fishing business.
  • Mussels?! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by bluefoxlucid (723572) on Monday May 12, 2008 @09:49PM (#23386784) Journal
    Can we eat them? Problem solved.
  • by 93 Escort Wagon (326346) on Monday May 12, 2008 @09:57PM (#23386850)
    Could Burlington Northern, for example, use this to solve their hobo problem?

    I'm just asking.
  • Was the previous method shooting up through your own cities at the aliens?

    I know, its a different type of "alien" but it seemed funny...
  • by rwa2 (4391) * on Monday May 12, 2008 @10:19PM (#23386966) Homepage Journal
    To anyone concerned about frying the microbes, Wired had a very readable story on what can happen sometimes when the ballast is handled the conventional way:

    http://www.wired.com/science/discoveries/magazine/16-03/ff_seacowboys?currentPage=all [wired.com]

    *spoiler* essentially current cargo ships headed to the U.S. have to flush their ballast in international waters and refill with local seawater. The Cougar Ace somehow managed to screw up this step and went askew (see pic). There were many quite grave consequences.

    Granted, it's not standard operating protocol to end up with losses like this just too keep out invasive species, but it does illustrate some of the challenges and extent of trouble people go to to comply with this kind of ecological directive. Plus it was a damn well-written story I enjoyed reading.
  • This sounds like the premise to a really bad sci-fi movie:

    Microwaves "cook ballast aliens"

    US researchers say they have developed an effective way to kill unwanted plants and animals that hitch a ride in the ballast waters of cargo tankers.

    Tests showed that a continuous microwave system was able to remove all marine life within the water tanks.
    Cut to: Hordes of radioactive sea life terrorizing humanity.
  • by jpellino (202698) on Monday May 12, 2008 @10:34PM (#23387074)
    Cause the only thing more noxiously aromatic than a ballast tank would be a steaming hot ballast tank!

    Somebody call Mike Rowe...

  • by chromozone (847904) on Monday May 12, 2008 @10:38PM (#23387096)
    People started finding Chinese Mitten crabs in the Hudson River and Chesapeake Bay and balast discharge was mentioned:

      http://www.dec.ny.gov/animals/35888.html [ny.gov]

    I read articles that make them sound like "rats of the sea" but they do eat them in China so maybe they are good eating (trying to be hopeful).

    "The fact they will climb over dams, go on shore into people's swimming pools, burrow into banks, we sure as hell don't need them here," Gabrielson said. "I really believe there's not a damn thing in the world we can do about it."

    http://www.recordonline.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070615/NEWS/706150327 [recordonline.com]
    • by jamesh (87723)

      I read articles that make them sound like "rats of the sea" but they do eat them in China so maybe they are good eating (trying to be hopeful).

      I don't know much about the Hudson river or Chesapeake Bay, but if their anything like other waterways in built up areas, eating any animal that manages to survive in them would not be a good idea, unless you have some sort of heavy metal deficiency.
    • I read articles that make them sound like "rats of the sea" but they do eat them in China so maybe they are good eating (trying to be hopeful).
      hihi... in China they do eat rats too, so it's kind of fitting...
  • by robbak (775424) on Tuesday May 13, 2008 @12:33AM (#23387744) Homepage
    Another way that has been suggested is to bubble pure nitrogen through the ballast water.

    It purges the water of oxygen, killing any marine life. It also has the benefit of stopping corrosion.

    It does have the downside of making the ships hull an instant death (asphyxiation) hazard.
  • The ballast tanks will become gigantic soup kitchens for sharks. You'll see a train of fins following every large ship.
  • What if ships were outfitted to continuously, or at least at frequent intervals, flush their ballast? If Ships flushed at port, ten miles offshore, a hundred miles offshore, and then again as they close on their destination, wouldn't potential infection become unlikely?
    • by Jesus_666 (702802)
      Has been tried. [slashdot.org] The end result was that Mazda had to blow up ca. 4700 new cars. (In short, something went wrong during the dumping process and the ship laid motionless, listing at sixty degrees, for weeks. Mazda had no idea what that would do to their cars so they destroyed them all to be safe.)
  • by fahrbot-bot (874524) on Tuesday May 13, 2008 @01:34AM (#23388016)
    With apologies to Monty Python's "The Undertakers" sketch:
    [For you youngsters: s/ballast/mother/g;]

    • ...
    • Fred: I'll get the oven on!
    • Man: Um, er...excuse me, um, are you... are you suggesting we should eat my ballast?
    • Undertaker: Yeah. Not raw, not raw. We cook 'em. They'll be delicious with a few french fries, a bit of stuffing. Delicious! (smacks his lips)
    • Man: What! (he stammers)
    • Man: Actually, I do feel a bit peckish - No! NO, I can't!
    • Undertaker: Look, we'll eat your ballast. Then, if you feel a bit guilty about it afterwards, we can dig a pit and you can throw up into it.
    • Man: All right.
  • swish and spit... (Score:3, Informative)

    by pointbeing (701902) on Tuesday May 13, 2008 @07:05AM (#23389446)
    I live in Michigan and this problem's been aired on local NPR for the last few days - introducing foreign marine life into the Great Lakes has been a problem for years.

    Starting this year cargo vessels are required to "swish and spit" - flush their ballast tanks 200 miles before entering the St. Lawrence seaway.

    This probably doesn't do much good for saltwater invasive marine life but is a good solution for the freshwater nasties.
    • I don't really think saltwater is a big problem. Ocean creatures can already get to any other part of the ocean.
  • Nice but (Score:3, Funny)

    by ajs318 (655362) <sd_resp2NO@SPAMearthshod.co.uk> on Tuesday May 13, 2008 @07:11AM (#23389472)
    Could the same principles be applied to Eurostar trains?
  • Despite their admittedly menacing effect on water intakes and on ship navigation, the invasive Zebra Mussels have also famously cleaned all the water in the Great Lakes. The water clarity that is found there would not have been so without the zebs.
  • Why not use this or some other method directly at the ballast intakes?

    Rather than microwaving the entire ballast tank continuously... just put in place a bottleneck area where the water is "treated". First with a forced water filter through a mesh to grab the majority of the unwanted critters (which could be ejected back into the ocean) then with the microwaves to kill off any microbes or other very small critters, including eggs, etc. that could develop into critters on the passage itself.

    Seems to me that
  • As a saltwater reef tank enthusiast, I know that UV generators are available to kill off tiny organisms that pass through the filter. I personally never used one, because I had clams, mussels and other filter feeders that enjoyed eating the tiny organisms present in my tank. Is UV more expensive than microwaving? Or perhaps less lethal to larger organisms?

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