In 1973, in an effort to minimize pollution of the oceans and seas—including dumping, oil and air pollution—the International Maritime Organization (IMO) developed the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships. Modified in 1978 and referred to as MARPOL 73/78 (short for marine pollution), 156 states are now parties to the convention and make up 99.42% of the world’s shipping tonnage. All ships flagged under countries that are signatories to MARPOL are subject to its legally binding restrictions, regardless of where in the world they sail.
Marine waste from cruise ships, oil tankers, and ocean liners represents an enormous marine pollution challenge in the Caribbean. Clean Marine Group is attempting to solve this challenge by expanding their existing waste treatment facility in Freeport Harbour, Bahamas. Clean Marine Group’s technology, compliant with MARPOL regulations (short for the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships), will break down oil and water emulsions, plus process contaminated water from ocean liners and cruise ships. In turn, the technology will provide significant environmental and health benefits to people that reside in, or depend on, ocean-related activities for their well-being in the Bahamas, such as tourism and fisheries, as well as other Caribbean countries that are affected by improper disposal of marine waste and pollutants that are dumped into the ocean.
Despite the MARPOL convention, enforcement to hold ships accountable and the presence of facilities to offload ship waste have been lacking and inadequate. In the wider Caribbean, this has especially been the case, where governments lack the capacity to enforce regulations and where almost no facilities exist to process ship waste properly, resulting in large amounts of marine pollution. This waste includes sludges, lubricant oils, plastic, chemical waste, and oil tank washings.
To address this issue in the wider Caribbean, Clean Marine Group is building a MARPOL port reception Facility and Hydrocarbon Recovery Plant and tank farm that will have the capacity to process 120,000 tons of oily waste per year. The plant, based in Freeport, Bahamas, has emissions below the world’s most stringent environmental levels, with 97% of the oil recovered recycled and 100% of waste water recovered to a potable state. Freeport Harbour is currently the largest and busiest port in the Eatstern Seaboard. The facility will be capable of docking Post-Panamax III ships and VLCCs and service the Bahamas, USA East Coast and the Wider Caribbean.
Once ships dock at the offloading facility, ships are met either by road tanker or barge and all ships slops, tank washings, ballast water, effluent and oily wastes are offloaded and collected. Once waste is removed from the ship, the waste is tested to determine its composition and a proper treatment course is applied to process the waste accordingly. After the waste is processed, anticipated byproducts include commodity standard IFO180 oil (a type of fuel oil used in the maritime industry), decanted sludge and potable water for reuse.
A small facility will begin operation in January 2020. The larger, complete facility will begin operation mid-2021.
This information was based on an interview conducted with Michael Fitton of Clean Marine Limited.