Port waste management planning for ship generated waste: Oil and garbage

The production and implementation of waste management plans in ports and harbours presents the most effective means of minimising and avoiding the potential effects of operational and illegal discharges of oil and garbage from ships on the marine environment. Since January 1998 it has become a statutory requirement on all ports and terminals, including any facility capable of transferring people or goods between water and sea. This includes marinas, yacht harbours, boat building yards and public slipways. This will be achieved through the provision of adequate reception facilities that encourage the disposal of wastes in ports and terminals, and remove as far as is practical any incentives for illegal discharges at sea, reducing the amounts entering the marine environment. However, the extent to which the management of ports and harbours can reduce the amounts of garbage and oil entering the marine environment from ships is limited.

Accidental spillages and discharges from ships do happen and despite the consequences of not following the regulations, such as heavy fines and damage to a company’s image, illegal discharges continue (Section 4.3 and 4.4). The regulation of such spills and discharges from ships is the responsibility of the MCA, not the port. Ports do not know which vessels have been guilty of malpractice in this respect, nor could they exclude them if they did for the reasons explained in Section 3.2.

Based upon best practice shown in UK ports and harbours during the voluntary implementation of waste management plans, DETR have prepared guidelines Port waste management planning - how to do it which promote an eight-step waste management planning process, which is summarised in Appendix N (DETR 1998). A similar approach is adopted in the Port waste management planning - a guide for marina operators and coastal clubs jointly produced by the BMIF and RYA that interprets the Waste Management Regulations for the recreational boating sector. The BMIF/RYA guide was produced in co-operation with the DETR and MCA and is a practical and easy to use document that has been well received by the operators of recreational boating facilities.

As good practice for ports and harbours in marine SACs there are a number of simple considerations that can be incorporated in the waste management process which are as follows:

  • Consultation: In addition to statutory consultees, ports and harbours may consider consulting with local representatives from country conservation agencies. Improvements in consultation could assist the efficient and sustainable treatment of ship generated wastes.
  • Information: In order to increase awareness in port users, waste contractors, ships’ agents and those working in the port area of the nature conservation importance of the site in which they operate, summary information on the marine SAC might be provided in the waste management plan.

In most ports, the operation of waste facilities is carried out by contractors properly approved by the local environment agency and the local authority. They have the expertise and capability to develop the efficiency of the waste system, and the motivation to do so. Most ports and harbours encourage and facilitate the work of other authorities in the responsible management of waste, including waste minimisation and recycling, at the point of generation, transportation and disposal. However, the extent to which waste can be minimised by ports is extremely limited and is a matter for shipowners who are now being required to produce ship-based garbage management plans administered through the MCA port state control mechanism, not the ports (ICS 1998).

The feasibility of promoting recycling of ship and boat generated wastes landed in ports and harbours should be considered to determine whether it presents a practicable environmental option and does not incur excessive costs or result in a loss in the ease of use of the facilities, an important consideration emphasised by Lord Donaldson (Safer ships, Cleaner Seas). A partnership approach to recycling schemes is likely to be the best way forward in ports and harbours, where practical, with the recycling activities being undertaken by the waste contractors. Information and advice can be sought from the local waste industry, local authorities, country conservation agencies and those involved in estuary management planning.

Management of wastes behind the quayline is subject to the same controls and regulations as any other industrial site and does not warrant special consideration in the SAC scheme of management. Further regulatory interests in waste management include the special concern of MAFF with respect to imported food waste and the Forestry Commission with regard to the risk of the introducing non-native arboreal pests in packing materials and dunnage imported with timber cargoes.

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