Bilge water compliance issues

Download the Alfa Laval white paper on oily water separation

Alfa Laval - Bilge water compliance issues

The shipping industry worldwide is acting in good faith to comply to the International Maritime Organization (IMO) Resolution MEPC.107 (49) for pollution prevention equipment for machinery spaces of bilges of ships. Regulations mandate that all vessels must operate an onboard type approved bilge water treatment system. This system must be able to treat oily waste water to comply with requirements of oil-in-water content of 15 ppm or less for overboard discharge. Bilge water treatment systems undergo rigorous testing to obtain IMO type approval certificates.

However, despite industry efforts to comply with regulations, both the number and the amount of the fines for violation of IMO Resolution MEPC.107 (49) have increased in recent years. Non-compliance raises questions about the adequacy of type approved bilge water treatment technologies as well as of the test protocols, which in some cases do not accurately reflect real-life operating conditions. It also draws attention to the critical need to use OEM filters for systems using static technology.

Ship owners and operators cannot underestimate the value of operating a trustworthy bilge water treatment system on board. With proven centrifugal separation technology at its core, Alfa Laval PureBilge has been tested and validated for compliance under real-life operating conditions on board, including pitching and rolling on the high seas.

There is enormous business potential for bilge water treatment systems that require low capital expenditure. However, Alfa Laval believes that the benefits of investing in centrifugal separation technology with a solid track record of compliance far outweigh the risks of developing systems that, under real-life conditions, often fail to meet the prescribed oil-in-water requirements. The costs of noncompliance on the marine environment are too high.

While this paper does not in any way purport to be an academic study, it intends to address the current regulatory playing field, the type approval processes, and the various technologies that are now available. It proposes that static gravity-type systems are inefficient and, despite of their so-called low capital costs, end up costing ship owners and seafarers dearly.

The aim of this Alfa Laval white paper is to share insights into why compliance with bilge water regulations proves difficult and what maritime authorities, ship owners and operators, and bilge water treatment system suppliers can do to promote compliance.

Test regimes and protocols for type approval of these systems are inadequate and fail to reflect real-life conditions on board vessels. Therefore review and revision of these regimes and protocols are required.

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