Cruise Lines Test Baltic Port Reception Facilities

By The Maritime Executive 2016-09-15 00:37:12

In consultation with the Baltic ports, the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) is coordinating a simulation exercise in the Baltic Sea this year to identify mismatches between the needs of ships and the actual availability and adequacy of sewage port reception facilities in the ports of the region.

For the exercise, cruise lines are operating a significant number of their ships as if the Special Area provisions are already in effect.

Sewage generated by ships contains nutrients, such as phosphorus and Nitrogen, which aggravate algal blooms and other symptoms of eutrophication. The problems experienced in the Baltic Sea have necessitated its designation as a Special Area under MARPOL Annex IV which will require the offload of all treated and untreated sewage to port reception facilities beginning in 2019 for new ships and 2021 for existing ships. 

CLIA will use the input received from members participating in the exercise to produce a report on the availability and operational experiences related to of reception facilities in the region, notably highlighting the challenges cruise ships currently face when endeavoring not to discharge wastewater at sea. This is anticipated to help set a roadmap to address the infrastructural challenges associated with the Special Area designation in a timely manner. 

So far, 27 cruise ships have discharged sewage at existing reception facilities and CLIA has received more than 300 completed reports from participating ships. 

Waste Management Policy

The CLIA has also recently re-affirmed its commitment to use sewage port reception facilities in the Baltic region via amendment to its waste management policy. CLIA sees the amendment to its policy as an incremental step toward the operating environment that members will face when the Special Area enters into force.

Both the new policy provision and the exercise are designed to facilitate the success of the Special Area and demonstrate the cruise industry’s heightened commitment to environmental stewardship.

The CLIA Waste Management Policy is one of the most comprehensive and advanced set of practices. While international law permits the discharge of untreated sewage 12 nautical miles from shore, under the CLIA policy, oceangoing cruise line members have committed to treat all sewage prior to discharge.

All sewage is treated using equipment certified to meet the standards for Type II Marine Sanitation Devices, which is a system approved by the U.S. Coast Guard for all vessels in U.S. ports.

Further, CLIA’s Waste Management Policy states that treated sewage will not be discharged within four nautical miles from land and at speeds below six knots, unless processed by an advanced wastewater treatment system. 

The CLIA Waste Management Policy also limits the discharge of untreated graywater (e.g., from sinks and drains), a waste stream that is not regulated by MARPOL. CLIA oceangoing cruise line members have agreed that for ships not using onshore reception facilities and traveling regularly on itineraries beyond the territorial waters of coastal states, graywater may only be discharged while the ship is underway and proceeding at a speed of not less than six knots and at a distance not less than four nautical miles from the nearest land, unless treated by an advanced wastewater treatment system.

The CLIA Waste Management Policy has proven to be a model for the maritime industry and adaptive to dynamic regulatory changes, says CLIA. “Nowhere is this truer than in the Baltic Sea.”

Environmental Achievements

Other environmental highlights from CLIA include:

•    CLIA Cruise Line Members have invested over $1 billion in advanced emissions technologies and alternative fuels.
•    CLIA worked with the IMO to develop mandatory measures for a 30 percent reduction in new ship CO2 emissions by 2025.
•    Some cruise ships recycle or repurpose nearly 100 percent of the waste generated on board by reducing, reusing, donating, recycling and converting waste into energy.
•    Cruise ship waste management professionals recycle 60 percent more waste per person than the average person recycles on shore each day.
•    Cruise ships use ecological, non-toxic coatings on ship hulls to reduce fuel consumption by as much as five percent.