Marine Sewage Water: The Legislation

The pathogenic organisms, viruses and bacteria present in sewage can cause numerous diseases and infections in humans – not just from direct contact but indirectly from eating the fish that filtrate seawater and retain dangerous particles.

Marine sewage water can also have a devastating effect on sea life as sewage uses up valuable oxygen in the water as it disintegrates. This results in the suffocation of fish, coral, seaweed and other micro-organisms that are essential to the eco-system, particularly in shallow seas and coastal areas.

The problem has long been recognised and reducing marine pollution from sewage was the first ever environmental initiative. Regulations initially came into force over a hundred years ago and since then they have been constantly updated and amended to reflect the changing face of modern shipping.

MARPOL Annex IV

MARPOL Annex IV applies to ships on international voyages which are over 400 gross tonnage, or those that are less and certified to carry 15 passengers and crew. It contains detailed regulations about the onboard equipment needed to control sewage discharge, the reception facilities that must be provided at ports and terminals, and the requirements for survey and certification.

If your vessel is equipped with an approved sewage treatment plant, an approved sewage comminuting and disinfecting system, or a sewage holding tank then you can discharge sewage at a distance of three nautical miles from the nearest land. However, the speed and rate of discharge must still be approved to meet the requirements set out in MEPC.157(55).

In addition to this, there are also designated ‘Special Areas’ (detailed in MEPC.200(62)) that may require further tests depending on the type of your vessel.

ISPCC

Vessels visiting countries that have ratified to MARPOL Annex IV need a relevant ISPCC – an International Sewage Pollution Prevention Certificate. This is issued after a successful inspection and is valid for five years. If you don’t have an ISPCC or your sewage treatment facilities fail the inspection, your ship could end up facing detention.

What you need to do

You have to make sure that your sewage treatment plant is installed in a way that enables effluent test samples to be collected. This sampling should be carried out in accordance with the regulations.

A minimum of forty samples should be collected to allow for statistical analysis of the data. The frequency of testing should take into account the length of time the effluent is sitting in the treatment plant and the test period should take a minimum of 10 days so that the discharge can enter a stabilisation period. The samples should also reflect normal conditions – the type of system, the number of people on-board and the operational processes involved.

Simple Solution

Pollution from marine sewage water has always been in the spotlight so new regulations are continually being introduced to try and control it. The legislation that applies to you will depend on factors such as your vessel size and type, where you’re operating and when your sewage treatment equipment was installed.

The amount of legislation can be overwhelming so our new Sewage Water Test Kit offers an easy way to make sure you’re always compliant. We’ve also created a free ebook to help clarify the key elements that you need to know.

Your ebook will cover:

  • Terminology & Definitions
  • Why Test Sewage Effluents
  • Effluent Testing Legislation
  • Quick Guide To The Required Testing
  • Sewage Effluent Test Kits
  • The Martek Sewage Effluent Test Kit

[Download]

The procedures are quick and simple to perform and don’t use complicated equipment so they’re suitable for everyone to use. The tests are based on those recommended by the Department of the Environment and the Water Research Centre and provide you with only the most vital components that will allow you to carry out essential quality control checks.

This will save time and money and increase your productivity – if you carry out regular tests of your vessel’s sewage, you can identify issues much earlier and correct them with the minimum of difficulty. This is much more efficient than waiting until a problem develops as repairing faults or being detained will have a major impact on your operations.

Making sure you meet regulations for effluent testing needn’t be complicated or expensive.

For guaranteed compliance, contact us today

 

Why your hatch testing needs to be accurate

Over 40% of all P&I claims are due to damaged cargo. Water ingress from hatch covers makes up the majority of these claims – even small amounts of water can cause extensive damage.

Every year, the North of England P&I club has three to four claims of between $500,000 and $1,000,000 for water-damaged cargoes resulting from hatch cover defects. Tony Baker, head of the club’s risk management department said: ‘The cost of preventing these losses can usually be measured in a few thousand dollars or less. Often all that is necessary is the replacement of some defective rubber seals, some minor repairs to steelwork or sometimes just cleaning down a coaming.’

Hatch covers are the responsibility of the ship’s owners and operators, so you need to pay close attention to them to make sure that your cargo is protected. Regular checking and maintenance is much cheaper and more effective than major repairs or incidents caused by neglect.

Testing Methods

Water hose testing and chalk testing are the two most common methods for checking hatch covers. While water hose testing can detect a leak, it can’t accurately pinpoint exactly where the problem’s coming from – and it won’t work in sub-zero conditions either. There’s also the added complication of making sure any cargo contained in the hold is adequately protected from the water used in the test.

Chalk testing doesn’t have some of these limitations but it isn’t considered to be a leak detection test as it only gives an indication of poor compression and possible leaks. It’s not effective in identifying weathertight integrity so it might not be acceptable to many external surveyors.

Ultrasonic Testing

This is the most accurate way to ensure your hatches are functioning correctly. A transmitter in the cargo hold emits ultrasound waves which are then picked up by a receiver outside the closed hatch. Unlike water hose and chalk tests, ultrasonic testing indicates when you have the required compression and gives you the precise location of any leakages. In addition to this, the equipment is easy to store and use, only needs one operator and doesn’t rely on the cargo hold being emptied.

However, just like any piece of technical equipment, there are some extra factors that need to be considered to ensure that your ultrasonic testing device is operating effectively.

Calibration

Ship operators and P&I clubs need to be sure that the equipment used for testing is behaving consistently every time, so readings taken by devices that are not calibrated are open to being rendered invalid. This could jeopardise potential insurance claims as, in a court of law, any results from equipment not shown to be in calibration could be disputed and disallowed.

Calibrating Hatchtite

Hatchtites are made to a very exacting standard so that their performance will not deteriorate quickly over time. Each device will give exactly the same correct and consistent readings, regardless of the specific device that’s being used. This is particularly important when comparing results that have been logged over a long period.

If properly cared for, a Hatchtite will also last for five years before they require re-calibration – the longest time period for an ultrasonic hatch testing device in the industry. After five years, it should be returned to make sure that:

– All components are clean and working in good order

– Any components that are approaching the end of their lives can be replaced or repaired

– The transmitter and receiver are tested to make sure the decibel readings are accurate

– Any relevant updates are implemented.

HATCHTITE Calibration

Calibrating your Hatchtite will ensure that you’ll always be able to test your hatches efficiently and reduce the risk of losing your cargo.

Contact us to find out more.

A Quick Guide to Sewage Effluent Testing

Sewage Effluent Testing

Sewage pollution from shipping has always been in the spotlight. Without comprehensive checks on Sewage Effluent, it can have catastrophic effects on the environment and the wellbeing of both human and aquatic life. To combat this, Sewage Effluent regulations have been in effect for over a hundred years and they will continue to get more and more stringent in the future as public awareness grows.

However, some of the terminology and procedures involved with sewage effluent testing can seem impenetrable to anyone not familiar with the inside of a laboratory. To help with this we’ve put together a quick guide to help with the key elements that you need to know.

We’ve also compiled an ebook, ‘A Guide To Marine Sewage Effluent Testing’ which explores the topic, regulations and solutions in more detail. If you would like to claim a free copy please fill in this form

PV

The Permanganate Value (PV) helps to determine the oxygen requirement of sewage and sewage effluent before it’s discharged. The waste can then be classified to make sure it’s within the necessary limits.

The PV test is designed to show the oxidation of organic material that occurs in natural waters by using potassium permanganate under acidic conditions to accelerate the process. The measurement is usually represented as the quantity of oxygen consumed per litre of water: mg/L O2 or ppm O2.

COD, BOD and TOC

Chemical Oxygen Demand (COD) measures the amount of dissolved oxygen needed to break down the organic material in a water sample.

The Biological Oxygen Demand (BOD) is similar – both measure the presence of compounds – but the BOD value is more detailed as it provides a value for the oxygen needed specifically by bacteria. The higher the BOD value, the larger the amount of food available for oxygen-consuming organisms.

TOC stands for Total Organic Carbon and measures the amount of decaying matter in water. It has been used to analyse water quality and sewage effluent since the early 1970s.

You can estimate a sample’s COD, BOD and TOC values by converting the results of the PV test. Although the results are not definitive, it’s a simplified and low-cost way of carrying out the most essential quality control checks.

pH

Chemical and biological reactions in sewage greatly depend on the amount of acid or alkaline present – the pH. Therefore, regular checks on the pH in your sewage effluent are essential.

These tests are carried out with a Universal test tablet and a printed colour strip that covers a pH range between four and ten. The expected level for your sewage effluents should fall between six and eight.

Free, Combined and Total Chlorine

Chlorine is useful for disinfection as it kills bacteria and viruses – it’s been used in water treatment since the early 1900s. However, it can have a harmful effect on the environment and marine life when released in wastewater.

Free Chlorine is residual chlorine contained in water either as dissolved gas, acid or ions. Combined Chlorine is the concentration of chlorine that has already gone through a chemical reaction – usually with ammonia or organic materials. The Total Chlorine is made up of both of these measurements together.

Bacteria Plate Test
As bacteria aren’t generally visible to the naked eye, a plate test is a way to estimate how many are present in a water sample.

It uses a plate containing a nutrient which allows bacteria to colonise and grow. These will show as a red colour which can then be counted. By using a specific measured amount as a sample, you can then scale up the results to infer the overall content of the effluent.

E.Coli

Escherichia coli (E. coli) is a type of bacteria found in the stomachs of humans and other warm-blooded animals. There are many different strains – most of which are harmless – but some can cause diarrhoea, abdominal pain, fever and vomiting. It can also be fatal for people with weakened immune systems. Checking for E.Coli in sewage effluent is therefore vital.

Testing works in a similar way to the bacterial plate. You take a sample, add specially designed chemicals and then wait for the results which will be either positive or negative. If they’re positive, you should super-chlorinate your water supply and seek further guidance.

Turbidity and Suspended Solids

The turbidity of liquid means how clear it is. Individual particles of suspended solids will cause water to lose its transparency and become murky in a similar way to smoke in the air.

The suspended solids may not be visible to the naked eye so testing the turbidity will give a measure of their content. The test will also keep you informed about the day to day variations in the quality of your wastewater and sewage effluent.

The Royal Commission Standards for Effluents recommend that the suspended solids content of sewage effluent should not be more than 30 mg/l.

Temperature

Sewage Effluent discharge should always be as close as possible to ambient temperatures as some biological processes are dependent on heat. Chemical reactions – as well as marine life – are very sensitive to even minor variations in temperature.

Checking the temperature of your wastewater is particularly important when it comes to industrial processes as well as the use of hot water in showers, dishwashers, washing machines and other regular domestic appliances.

Sewage Test Kit

If you carry out regular tests of your vessel’s sewage, you can identify issues much earlier and correct them with the minimum of difficulty. This is much more efficient than waiting until a problem develops as repairing faults could have a major impact on your operations.

The equipment in our onboard Sewage Effluent Kit makes sure you meet the regulations in the most simple and effective way possible – the tests are based on those recommended by the Department of the Environment and the Water Research Centre.

The kit provides you with only the most vital components that will allow you to carry out essential quality control checks, saving you time and money and increasing your productivity. The procedures are quick and easy to perform and don’t use complicated equipment so they’re suitable for everyone to use.

Testing your sewage effluent needn’t be complicated or expensive. Martek’s Sewage Effluent Kit makes it easy.

Contact us to find out more.