MARPOL Annex IV is currently under revision by the IMO. We cover the most relevant topics in a multi-part article series:
The ongoing revisions of MARPOL Annex IV have recognised the need for a sewage management plan (SMP) (PPR 7/16, MEPC 74/14) to assist the crew with handling, treating and storing sewage and other related wastewater by the sewage systems on board, taking into account the ship-specific conditions (PPR 7/INF.21).
The proposed SMP is stipulated under the newly created Implementation Guideline under the MARPOL Annex IV and covers different aspects of sewage management on board (PPR 10/12). It will be inspected and verified during the initial, annual, and renewal surveys.
WHAT IS A SEWAGE MANAGEMENT PLAN?
A sewage management plan should include the following:
- The designated person(s) in charge of carrying out the plan;
- The Health & Safety (H&S) aspects;
- The description of the sewage treatment plant installed on board, including its operation and maintenance manuals, system diagrams, sample points, hydraulic and organic load, all wastewater streams entering the sewage treatment plant, modification lists and a record of their approvals, etc.
- A maintenance plan covering the instructions, schedule, spare parts and their service providers, service to the sewage treatment plant and its monitoring devices and flow meters, and guide to all maintenance work activities, including the prevention of overflows;
- Procedures for monitoring the performance of the sewage treatment plant, such as sampling point and sampling procedures, and plans for indicative monitoring of STP effluent, performance testing, and sampling plan for other specific (analysis) checks;
- Procedures for the handling and disposing of sewage sludge and related residuals of the sewage treatment process;
- Procedures for handling, storing, and using chemicals and biological additives;
- A plan for start-up, standby and shutdown of the sewage treatment plant;
- Training and familiarisation with the use and processes of the STP;
- And so on…
DO ALL SHIPS HAVE TO HAVE A SEWAGE MANAGEMENT PLAN IN THE FUTURE?
Yes, it looks like it. Whilst the introduction of the sewage management plan was initially aimed at future new ships and existing ships having a new sewage treatment plant, the latest discussions suggest the sewage management plan be introduced to all ships, including ships installed with sewage systems other than sewage treatment plants (PPR 10/WP.1/Rev.1), as well as all existing ships covered by MARPOL Annex IV (PPR 10/12).
SUMMARY: A STEP FORWARD IN MANAGING SEWAGE SYSTEMS ON SHIPS
In brief, the introduction of a sewage management plan is a positive step forward, and it should provide better visibility to all stakeholders on how ship-specific sewage systems should be managed on board. Shipyards and ship owners should understand the potential implications to existing ships, including the current new build ships in the pipeline. Those wrongly certified sewage treatment plants that “pretend” not do produce the inevitable sewage sludge or do not even have a sewage sludge discharge connection point will not be compatible with the new requirements, even on paper.