Seafarers Speak Out on Oily Water Separators

By Wendy Laursen 2015-06-01 00:43:30

Preliminary results from a six-month study on the effectiveness of oily water separators indicate seafarers have some serious complaints about an onboard technology that can land them in jail.

The discharge of oily water from a ship is a serious criminal offence, yet seafarers find the equipment designed to prevent such discharges challenging. In a few rare cases, they resort to magic pipes to bypass the oily water separator itself or to fraudulent paperwork to bypass the regulations that govern it.

A new study is underway to see what can be done to improve shipboard oily waste management. MAX1 Studies is a six-month study commissioned by the National Fish & Wildlife Foundation and managed by the maritime consultancy firm Martin & Ottaway. The study looks at all shipboard waste stream management, but explores machinery space waste streams and oily water separators in particular depth as a case study.

Some of the seafarer comments obtained in the study point to the human element:

“People are scared of the possibility of fines/jail time for violating accidentally. A lot of times, the oily water separator is not run out of fear. Teach everyone how to properly use and care for one,” said one survey respondent.

“Make them simpler and documentation easier, especially in the oil record book. Crews are in absolute panic for even documentary mistakes as they believe they will be viewed as criminals even if the mistake is genuine or minor,” says another.

“Too many companies use the oil record book as a threat to mariners. Teaching methods to make entries streamlined and simple is more effective than telling your employees that they’ll go to jail for making a mathematical error.”

Some seafarers taking the survey pointed to equipment design failings:

“In older ships, more than 10 years old, leakages do tend to increase, and are at times unavoidable. Hence sludge and waste oil/bilge water tanks with adequate capacity should be provided for collection to discourage illegal disposal by the ship’s crew.”

“Most separators do not function properly with the volume of sludge needed to be processed on the vessels I have been on.”

“Often the as-fitted piping arrangements are not 100 percent in accordance with manufacturers’ drawings.”

“Onboard storage and holding capacities are too often inadequate, but the worst problem is the significant lack of economical shore-based reception facilities for ALL types of waste.”

Rik van Hemmen President and Senior Partner at Martin & Ottaway, says environmental functions on board ships continue to expand. Meanwhile, evidence based on a continual stream of noted violations indicates that some operators continue to have problems with machinery space waste stream management. The number of regulations and procedures is increasing, and this paperwork has resulted in resentment and loss of focus by all stakeholders, he says.

Resolution of these problems will require a combination of improvements in technology, operational practices, training and human factors considerations, says van Hemmen. This study endeavors to bring together all stakeholders in order to develop best practices on all of these fronts.

A conference with all interested parties will be held on June 24, 2015 in North Carolina. The main objective of the conference will be to engage stakeholders in discussions and deliberations regarding the path forward for machinery space waste stream management.

The conference agenda is available here.


Tokyo’s February exports drop

Exports from Tokyo port fell in February as 991,464 tonnes of cargo were shipped out, down 12.4% year on year (y/y).
Imports were up 5.2% y/y to 2.565 million tonnes, according to figures released by the Tokyo metropolitan government on 29 May.
The Port of Tokyo saw its cargo traffic rise 1.3% in

U.S. Leader Talks of Peace in Asia

By Wendy Laursen 2015-05-31 20:22:45

U.S. Defence Secretary Ash Carter has been focusing on maritime security during his tour of Asia last week. After viewing a Vietnamese coast guard vessel that was rammed by a Chinese ship last year, he pledged $18 million to help the nation buy U.S. built Metal Shark patrol boats.

Carter’s 11 day trip has seen him visit naval and coast guard headquarters in Vietnam looking to “modernize” relations. He started his Asian tour calling for a stop to island building in the South China Sea, and it has been a focus of his dialogue with Australasian leaders. Although Vietnam has also reclaimed land in the sea, Carter singled out China’s large-scale activities extending to several thousand acres.

Malaysia Concerned

Carter also met with Malaysian Minister of Defense Datuk Seri Hishammuddin in Singapore where he congratulated Malaysia on its successful chairmanship of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), pointing to a host of recent ASEAN initiatives which have successfully bolstered regional security, including cooperation in humanitarian and disaster relief, peacekeeping, anti-piracy and counterterrorism.

The two leaders met on the sidelines of the Shangri-La Dialogue, a major annual forum for key leaders in the Asia-Pacific region to discuss security challenges and opportunities. They shared their concerns regarding Chinese land reclamation in the South China Sea. They agreed that all regional tensions should be resolved in accordance with international law. Carter expressed gratitude to Hishammuddin for advocating for an increase in cooperative maritime patrol flights.

Australia and Japan Alliance Building

Ash, Japanese Defense Minister Gen Nakatani and Australian Minister for Defence Kevin Andrews also held trilateral defense ministerial talks in Singapore last week. This was the fifth meeting of its kind among the three nations’ top defense officials.

The defense ministers from Japan and Australia reaffirmed the strength of their respective alliances with the United States as essential to peace and security in the Asia-Pacific region, and underscored their enduring support for the U.S. rebalance to the region.

Recalling Japan’s path as a peace-loving nation for the last 70 years, the U.S. secretary of defense and Australian defense minister welcomed and supported Japan’s recent efforts to play a greater role in regional and global security, including its efforts to develop legislation for peace and security under the banner of “Proactive Contribution to Peace” based on the principle of international cooperation.

The leaders expressed strong opposition to the use of coercion or force to alter the status quo in the East China and South China Seas unilaterally and their serious concern over Chinese land reclamation activities. They urged all South China Sea claimants to exercise self-restraint, halt reclamation activities, take steps to ease tensions and refrain from provocative actions that could escalate tensions.

They called on governments to clarify and pursue territorial claims and accompanying maritime rights in accordance with international law. They also called for ASEAN and China to reach early agreement on a meaningful code of conduct in the South China Sea.

Australia’s top five trade partners are all in the Indo-Pacific, and approximately 98 percent of the nation’s international trade by volume travelling by sea – and more than half of that through the South China Sea.

Russia Steps Up

Also in Singapore is Russian Deputy Defense Minister Anatoly Antonov. He said that Russia will take part in naval military exercises together with its Asia Pacific allies including the May 2016 drills which have a focus on counter-terrorism and naval security.

RT reports Antonov also said he was concerned about stability in the region, naming the U.S. as the main destabilizing factor with policies aimed against Russia and China: “We are concerned by U.S. policies in the region, especially since every day it becomes increasingly focused on a systemic containment of Russia and China.”