Dumping of sewage sludge at sea will soon be prohibited worldwide
Nov 07, 2022
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Parties to the treaties which regulate the dumping of wastes at sea have adopted an amendment to ensure that the dumping of sewage sludge at sea would be prohibited worldwide, the International Maritime Organization announced on its website.
The amendment to the London Protocol will remove sewage sludge from the list of permissible wastes - wastes which may be considered for dumping at sea.
The amendment was adopted by the 44th Consultative Meeting of Contracting Parties to the London Convention and the 17th Meeting of Contracting Parties to the London Protocol (LC 44/LP 17), which met at the international Maritime Organization (IMO) Headquarters from 3-7 October 2022. IMO is the Secretariat for both treaties.
The amendment will enter into force for each Contracting Party immediately on notification of its acceptance, or 100 days after the date of the adoption if that is later.
Sewage sludge is a waste that has been considered for dumping at sea under both the London Convention and London Protocol. Decades ago, a substantial volumes of sewage sludge was permitted to be dumped at sea.
However, the London Convention and Protocol parties previously commissioned a world-wide review of current practices of managing or dumping sewage sludge at sea.
The last meeting concluded that the practice had declined considerably over recent decades, that it was already prohibited under many regional conventions and through domestic legislation, and that alternatives existed for the use of the sewage sludge.
The Contracting Parties agreed that there was sufficient evidence and justification for amending Annex 1 of the London Protocol to remove sewage sludge from the list of permissible wastes. The proposal to amend the treaty was submitted by the Republic of Korea and Mexico.
Under the London Protocol all dumping is prohibited, except for possibly acceptable wastes on the so-called "reverse list" (Annex 1).
The list of materials which may be considered for dumping at sea will now include: dredged material (the bulk of material given permits); fish wastes; inert, inorganic geological material; specific bulky items; vessels and platforms or other manmade structures at sea; organic material of natural origin; and carbon dioxide (CO2) streams from carbon dioxide capture processes.