13 May 2015
Waste not, want not
By Rory Jackson
ACO Marine, a subsidiary of the German Aco Group, has received the first Bureau Veritas (BV) type approval for its new ACO Maripur NF sewage treatment system. The BV tests confirm that ACO Marine’s Maripur treatment system meets the stringent performance requirements of IMO Resolution MEPC 227(64), which will be enforced from January 1 2016.
The ACO Maripur is a biological waste management system that utilises the aerobic activation of micro-organisms in the form of sludge. Air is continuously delivered to the sludge, catalysing the biological response - serving to also clean the filtration modules - whilst the bioreactor is simultaneously agitated to maximise activity. Ultra-filtration separates the purified water from the activated sludge and bacteria, negating the need for disinfectant or UV treatment.
Mark Beavis, managing director of ACO Marine, commented, “The ACO Maripur NF is the first BV type-approved wastewater treatment system introduced to meet the new resolution. The new range is very simple to install as a new build or retrofit solution, making it a very attractive treatment option for owners and builders who require the operational flexibility to operate in all areas, including the IMO designated Special Areas.”
MEPC 227(64) will affect any commercial superyacht wishing to discharge black water within sewage-specific IMO ‘special areas’. The aim of the resolution is to reduce the expulsion of nitrogen and phosphorous from waste management systems and therefore decelerate the nitrification of the seas. Studies have shown that the proliferation of nitrogen and phosphorous levels in the world's oceans and seas can have a number of damaging effects on aquatic ecosystems.
The only current MARPOL special area related to sewage limitation (Annex IV special areas) is the Black Sea. However, more areas have applied for privileged status. The exacting requirements of the MEPC revision prohibit any superyacht vessel that doesn’t meet the compliance standards from discharging sewage in said area.
Beavis continues: “The new regulations are going to hit the industry hard. There are still a significant number of systems in operation that are failing to meet the existing standards, let alone the new ones.”
The revised standards require passenger vessels that wish to comply to have sewage composition of no more than 20mg/l of nitrogen and 1.0mg/l of phosphorous as section 4.2 explains - section 3 of the resolution (General) outlines the effect on the superyacht industry:
“An approved sewage treatment plant has to meet the technical specifications in Section 4 and the test protocols set out in revised guidelines. However, section 4.2 on nitrogen and phosphorous removal applies to passenger ships operating within a special area intending to discharge treated sewage effluent into the sea. It should also be noted that, when ships are operating approved sewage treatment plants, MARPOL Annex IV also provides that the effluent shall not produce visible floating solids or cause discolouration of the surrounding water.”
Commercially registered superyachts built on or after January 1 2016 and intending to discharge treated waste in protected areas must be compliant, while existing superyachts wishing to do the same must amend their systems after January 1 2018. All other sections of MEPC 227(64) apply equally to passenger and non-passenger vessels. A degree of uncertainty looms over what sanctions will be enforced for non-compliant operators and vessels.
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