Marine pollution has always been in the spotlight but now, even more attention is being paid to the impact of sewage on the environment. Strict regulations and an increasing focus on compliance is having a big effect on shipping.
A recent bulletin issued by UK P&I Club has highlighted the issue. It reveals that detentions due to sewage are on the rise at an alarming rate.
The bulletin concerns recent data released by the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) which shows the extent of the problem. So far in 2019, the most common reason for the detention of their vessels was sewage-related.
The deficiencies – generally worded as ‘sewage treatment plant defective’ – could be down to a number of issues. These range from poor maintenance of equipment, inadequate checking of effluence or, in some cases, discharging raw sewage directly into the waters of the port.
Detentions for inadequate sewage treatment are a growing concern for ship operators. In 2018, sewage was also listed as the second most common detainable deficiency in the Tokyo MOU.
MARPOL Annex IV
The legislation that you need to comply with will depend on factors such as the vessel size and type, where it’s operating and when its sewage treatment equipment was installed.
Annex IV is a complex piece of legislation which focusses on the treatment of sewage and the discharge of sewage effluents. We’ve compiled a comprehensive free guide to help clarify all aspects of sewage effluent legislation which applies to commercial shipping vessels.
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.
There are a number of guidelines within MARPOL Annex IV that are worth paying particular attention to in order to avoid detention:
This applies to sewage treatment plants installed after 1st January 2016 on ships that are operating outside the ‘special areas’ designated in MARPOL Annex IV (detailed in MEPC.200(62))
These are revised guidelines about implementing effluent standards and performance tests for sewage treatment. They apply to treatment plants installed between 1st January 2010 and 1st January 2016 on vessels that operate inside ‘special areas’.
This contains recommendations for international effluent standards and provides more guidance for performance testing in sewage treatment plants. It applies to equipment installed before 1st January 2010 on ships operating in ‘special areas’.
During an inspection, the vessel should be able to demonstrate that it meets all the operational requirements of MARPOL Annex IV when it comes to effluents and sewage treatment. The International Safety Management Code also requires crews to be familiar with sewage treatment systems and maintain up-to-date records.
If a defect is discovered, this must be reported to the appropriate authority at the earliest opportunity. Additionally, you can’t make any changes to the ship’s systems without authorisation from the Flag Administration after an inspection has been conducted.
Essentially, you need to make sure that your sewage treatment processes are always compliant or you risk detention.
A Simple Solution
The amount of legislation can be overwhelming – especially as it’s frequently updated and is likely to get even more stringent in the future. Our new Sewage Water Test Kit offers an easy way to make sure your sewage treatment processes meet the regulations.
It provides you with everything you need to carry out regular testing and doesn’t require any formal training. Everything comes in one kit and the test procedures don’t use any complicated equipment – they’re quick and easy and can be performed by anyone. Its design is based on recommendations from the Department of the Environment and the Water Research Centre so you get only the most vital components that make sure you’re compliant.
Carrying out regular tests of your vessel’s sewage will enable you to identify issues much earlier and correct them with the minimum of difficulty. This will save time and money, and increase your productivity.