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Calgon eyes ship ballast water treatment bonanza

Tom Fontaine
| Saturday, Feb. 18, 2012

Calgon Carbon's chief executive wants to win a big share of a new $20 billion market.

Proposed regulations that would require ballast water in ships to be treated to prevent the spread of invasive species could open that huge market for the Robinson company.

Calgon Carbon Corp. has been contracted to deliver more than 100 ballast water treatment systems to buyers in Asia, Europe and the United States over the last year. Demand could skyrocket if proposals being considered by the Coast Guard and the International Maritime Organization require such systems.

"There is a $20 billion potential market over seven years," said Calgon CEO John Stanik on Friday when Gov. Tom Corbett toured a company plant.

Ballast water is carried in tanks by ships to help provide more stability, but the water is full of aquatic life that can cause problems if taken from a native habitat in one port to a foreign one when ballast is emptied at the end of a trip.

Calgon's treatment systems can be installed in ships at the point where ballast water goes in and out. As the water passes through, ultraviolent technology in the system irradiates it to prevent the spread of bacteria, microbes and other potentially harmful organisms.

The company said the requirement could force more than 60,000 vessels to be retrofitted with the treatment systems. The Coast Guard and IMO spokesmen could not be reached for comment.

Systems ordered to date have been installed in new ships for customers who believe treatment regulations will become mandatory and don't want to have to install the equipment later, said Terry Bimle, Calgon Carbon's director of engineering and operations.

Work in the pipeline has fueled expansion. The company, which also develops systems to treat municipal drinking water and wastewater, doubled the number of workers at its four-year-old Findlay plant, to about 100 employees. Growth is anticipated, including the addition of 17,000 square feet in office space in Findlay, Bimle said.

Calgon Carbon also has three plants on Neville Island, where it has operated since the World War II era, and in California, Kentucky, Mississippi, New York, Ohio and Asia. The company said this week that it expects to report sales of $138 million when it announces its fourth-quarter 2011 earnings on Feb. 27.

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