BPO sewage reception workshop in Helsinki

May 28 2018

BPO sewage reception workshop in Helsinki

On May 24th, the Baltic Ports Organization (BPO) held a workshop dedicated to sewage reception, which took place in Helsinki, Finland. The workshop has been hosted by the Port of Helsinki and accompanied by a meeting of the BPO Environmental Working Group. The workshop featured a discussion focusing on Baltic ports’ input to the Best Practice Guidebook among a variety of other topics.

The workshop opened with an overview to recent amendments to the MARPOL Annex IV, which designates the Baltic Sea as a Special Area for sewage, presented by Jorma Kämäräinen, representing the Finnish Transport Safety Agency (Trafi). The restrictions, which foresee the obligatory discharge of sewage from passenger ships, will come into force on June 1st, 2019, for newly built vessels and June 1st, 2021, for existing ships.

A practical example for the challenges linked to the topic of discharge of wastewater from ships has been given based on experiences gathered by the Helsinki Region Environmental Services Authority HSY, introduced in a speech by Heli Lindberg. There are a number of factors that need to be considered when receiving wastewater, including risks related to occupational safety and health, odor emission or corrosion in concrete sewers due to high hydrogen sulphide contents released into the sewer and pumping stations

There is a broad range of treatment technologies being applied to newly built cruise vessels and one of the questions being currently raised is what portion of the black waters (sewage) will be treated onboard and discharged into the sea and how much will be delivered to PRF’s in ports. Dr. Wei Chan of Wärtsilä, mentioned in her presentation that shipowners would rather prepare to have both options for greater flexibility.

Participants of the workshop also discussed ways for Baltic ports to contribute their experience and standards for handling of wastewater in ports to the Best Practice Guidebook. The Guidebook, prepared and showcased by Markus Joswig from the Testing and Development Institute for Wastewater based at the RWTH Unviersity in Aachen, is set to be published in October, 2018.

The Baltic Sea region is home to a variety of different environmental regulations, resulting in a vast amount of knowledge amassed by the stakeholders active in the area. Therefore, Baltic ports and other members of the maritime sector in the region traditionally have a lot to share with their peers, which can benefit maritime communities all around the world.

Bogdan Ołdakowski, BPO Secretary General, said: “The workshop gave an update on developments in Baltic ports when it comes to meeting the IMO regulation for sewage from passenger ships, especially when it comes to providing port reception facilities. We are glad that the Best Practice Guidebook is being prepared, as it will help the port industry to meet these PRF requirements. The topic of obligatory delivery of sewage from passenger ships remains one of BPO's main priorities as Baltic ports need to be adequately prepared for the upcoming deadlines and costs linked to the development of necessary infrastructure”. 

The discussion has also touched upon a couple different matters related to the topic of waste reception and waste treatment. Questions surrounding the future of Port Reception Facilities (PFR) after 2019/2021, fee system for sewage reception to recover the costs, changes to volumes and treatment of sewage from new big cruise ships, as well as actions to be taken by ports with a very low number of cruise calls throughout the year and no capacity to receive waste were also considered by the workshop participants.  The impact of the revised EU Directive on PRF has been also discussed.