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27 March, 2014 - 20:31 By News Desk

Cambridge technology fights ship pollution threat


Technology from a Cambridge UK company could be deployed to prevent potentially lethal marine pollution.

Bactest has upgraded its Speedy Breedy bacteria detector so it can test for contamination in the ballast water belched into the world’s oceans by thousands of ships.

Bactest has reacted to the Ballast Water Treatment Performance Standard (D2) set out by the International Maritime Organisation.

New features enable Speedy Breedy to test for the three bacteria set out in the D2 standard, Vibrio (Cholera), E. coli and Enterococcus, to enumerate contamination in CFUs (colony forming units) and then to pasteurise the sample so that it can be disposed of as regular waste.

Bactest CEO Professor Annie Brooking said: “There are thousands of ships that over the next few years will be required to test ballast water prior to its discharge.

“Over 8,000 ships visit the US alone every year. These new features enable Speedy Breedy to be used on land or at sea to test that ballast water can be safely discharged into our seas and oceans.

“We have added a pasteurisation process to the Ballast Water Protocol which means that if Speedy Breedy detects any of the D2 trio the culture vessel is decontaminated so it can be disposed of safely as normal waste.”

Cruise ships, large tankers, and bulk cargo carriers use a huge amount of ballast water, which is often taken on in the coastal waters in one region after ships discharge wastewater or unload cargo, and discharged at the next port of call, wherever more cargo is loaded. 

Ballast water discharge typically contains a variety of biological materials, including plants, animals, viruses, and bacteria. These materials often include non-native, nuisance, exotic species that can cause extensive ecological and economic damage to aquatic ecosystems, along with serious human health issues including death.

Bactest’s Speedy Breedy is also used to determine sterility or contamination in a wide range of applications that include manufacture of ice cream, paint, meat products, beer, milk and juice.

It tests for contamination in a wide range of samples including potable water, ballast water, stem cells, donor organs, semen and blood. Swabs used in environmental testing can also be tested for sterility using Speedy Breedy.

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