Wastewater treatment without sludge on board ships? Not scientifically possible, says the paper


Written by

Nick blenkey

“There are systems certified for use at sea that are scientifically incapable of treating wastewater,” says Mark Beavis, CEO of ACO Marine.

Some approved types of marine wastewater treatment are at sea and are scientifically incapable of treating the wastewater. This is the charge brought by a group of leading wastewater treatment system manufacturers and environmental organizations.

They call for a revision of Annex IV of MARPOL in order to verify the continuous performance and discharge criteria of sewage treatment systems on board ships.

Although there are rules for verifying the release parameters, these apply only to type-approval testing at land-based establishments. There is currently no application of the wastewater discharge criteria once a system has been installed and becomes operational on board ships.

Mark Beavis, Managing Director of Senior Wastewater Treatment Specialist ACO Marine, said: “The main assertion is that we believe there are systems certified in offshore service that are scientifically incapable of treating wastewater. “

Beavis is co-author of an article – Sewage Treatment with No-Sludge Production – A False Claim, and a Non-Conformity – which states:

“Some manufacturers claim that their wastewater treatment plants do not produce sludge. Unfortunately, conformity assessment bodies have approved their equipment. But they have certified impossibilities and created certified “magic boxes”. These systems violate science.

Wastewater treatment without sludge production – False declaration and non-compliance

Beavis said: “Wastewater treatment plants protect the marine environment by transforming raw wastewater into less harmful effluents that meet specific discharge criteria set by the International Maritime Organization. As a by-product of the treatment process, sewage sludge is created and must be treated on board or incinerated ashore. This sludge is a by-product of all treatment processes. But instead of being separated from the treatment process, this sludge is released into the effluent.

“These ‘magic boxes’ would not be able to function no matter how they function, and we are very concerned about the environmental damage these systems are causing. “

While the rules were tightened with IMO resolution MEPC.227 (64) and the use of limited dilution water during performance testing, this did not prevent the certification of so-called sludge-free systems.

“Certificates have become permits to pollute. Something is seriously wrong, ”the authors say in the newspaper.

Existing guidelines do not explicitly prohibit sludge-free systems, but the authors believe that the type approval regime is “at odds with IMO’s intentions”.

“There is a lot at stake: the credibility of the approval regimes, the responsibilities towards shipowners and shipyards, a level playing field, the environmental aspirations of the IMO and, ultimately, the pristine seawater that we have agreed to protect, ”say the authors.

The paper was co-authored by Mark Beavis, Managing Director, ACO Marine; Dr Wei Chen, Head of Future Program Development, Wartsila Water Systems Ltd, UK; Dr Elmar Dorgeloh, Director of the Institute for Development and Assessment of Wastewater Technologies at RWTH-Aachen University (PIA), Germany; Holger Hamann, Managing Director, Holger Hamann Consulting; Matthew MacGregor, Executive Director, TEi-Testing Services; Dr Daniel Todt, R&D Project Manager, Ecomotive AS; Niclas Karlsson, Managing Director, Clean Ship Scandinavia; Mark Mellinger, President, Headhunter Inc; and Felix von Bredow, Board of Directors of Hamman AG.

The authors call on the IMO, its member states and approval assessment bodies to identify and recognize the problem and establish protocols to prevent such nonconformities from reoccurring.

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Existing guidelines do not explicitly prohibit sludge-free systems, but the authors of a new article believe they should

“There are systems certified for use at sea that are scientifically incapable of treating wastewater,” says Mark Beavis, CEO of ACO Marine.

About ACO Marine:

Founded over fifteen years ago, ACO Marine is a member of the international ACO group headquartered in Germany and one of the leading providers of advanced wastewater treatment systems for the commercial, naval, offshore and recreational sectors with a worldwide sales and service network. . Its unique environmental solutions are mainly used in wastewater technology, wastewater management and drainage systems. ACO Marine develops in-house solutions from its ISO 9001 accredited production facilities, all located entirely within the EU.


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