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.
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.
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
You can download the ebook here.
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