Dumping Oil at Sea


I’ve been seeing more and more reports of prosecution for pumping bilges at sea while by-passing the oily water separator. Recently a Chief Engineer working for a Gretna Louisiana company was sentenced and the company fined. I believe this company was under AMO contract but I’m not positive. Everyone should be extremely careful with this. Insist that your company have an adequately sized and properly functioning OWS. If they don’t you must refuse to pump overboard and insist they pump to a shoreside facility ! It’s your license and freedom you’re risking if you don’t.
I hope the guys in the Gulf of Mexico have cleaned up their act by now. As recently as two years ago I know many crew, supply and anchor boats were routinely pumping engine room bilges directly overboard as they have for many years. It’s just a matter of time until the USCG and EPA start closely inspecting the oil record books from the GOM so just don’t do it.
Insist that your company provide you with the proper equipment to do the job legally. It will be you that’s flipping burgers for living [after you get out of prison] not the owner or president of the company.


You mean all Chiefs don’t have an auditor up their butts with a microscope?? I feel picked on!! Anyway, the Coast Goard says it only takes a 1/2 hour, or so a week to keep track of slops. I know I’ll be audited at least twice a year with OCM calibration test and paper trail for disposition. In the last 5 years, customer,ABS, ISO/ISM, Coast Guard audits have averaged 5 a year. If you have Waukeshau bearings and seals or eqv It ain’t so bad. injunear


I’m audited out the ying-yang. What comes on must be accounted for going out and heaven help you if your books don’t add up.
But this strict control isn’t the case with all the companies in all areas, they’ll give you a wink and a pat on the back when the stuff mysteriously disappears. I have had pressure put on me to make the stuff disappear but when they find out I don’t play that game they back off and we get along. You’ve just got to have some integrity and cojones.
One of the reasons I left the Gulf of Mexico many years ago was because of the pressure of breaking the law on account of “it’s the way we do things”. I know it’s still going on down there but Lord help them when the hammer comes down. It’s going to be hard on all of them.


One of the reasons why I opted for early retirement. Seems many of us are bound for the “Great Egress”.

It appears the only way to defeat all of the rediculous regs imposed on us is to follow them to the tee.

I remember when going to sea was fun. injunear


Most OWS equipment simply too small. 100% automatic operation a dream, mostly it does require manual supervision emptying of the bilges. With reduced crew and everybody busy filling ISM forms on how nice the OWS is working, calculating the figures for the oil record book that they are absolutely correct, no time to watch this thing for hours slowly emptying the bilges, respective service and maintenance. May inform owners that thing not working, they will put it back on you, but crew all busy with paper work. USCG meanwhile well aware of the magic pipe. I guess they still to learn about some magic portable pump :slight_smile: High quality crew even pumped it through the fire mains. Imaginable how the vessel did look like after next deck washing. Must have been a hell of a cleaning job, their excuse they must have sucked it from the sea.

Ok, we can’t land it ashore, for what we got a duly certified incinerator. Fuel very expensive now and owners would not like to waste any fuel with it. Very essential that all water removed from the waste oil. Such would require proper settling tanks where you can take off the oil at different heights. To be frankly, most of these incinerators do not work right once only a little bit water in the waste oil. Under the line, you may need to have 1 man for the bilge separator as well 1 man for the incinerator to have these work properly. Maybe possible in the US Navy, but in commercial shipping not enough manpower left.

Should come in our mind that this problem does not exist in countries like Brazil, where they do pay the crew for any sludge and use it mainly for the asphalt. Chief engineer has not to be worried about oil going overboard, instead that the crew might add some bunker to the sludge adding some more dollars to their tiny salary. In the US they would charge owners like the waste oil any remains out of any chemical warfare. Same does apply to any garage from vessels. So what they do instead? They dump it 200 nm off the US coast. Too much of a surprise? Crew and their garbage not welcome ashore, dump it on their beach. As oil too easy detected, what about collecting the sewage during a sea passage and emptying the lot at their beach? Let them bath in that as revenge for ISPS :slight_smile:

Sorry, for being sarcastic here. It is too much rubbish now. You are right. The old experienced seafarers now going into retirement. With all these rules, regulations and paper work shipping became some sort of funny farm. Quick training and rapid promotions are no answer to fill the gap. Those simply not ready. It is not only that the old ones leaving, also the young ones rapidly leaving the shipping industry. After 5 years at sea they simply had more than enough from shipping companies. They are even not willing to accept the position as superintendent. They thought they could do everything with seafarers. It somehow looks like things are slowly turning now, many are leaving, going ashore even for less money.


There is an upside to this OWS situation. Example; I was took a job on a ship with the usual too small OWS along with the usual leaks from worn out bearings etc… It was obvious the OWS couldn’t keep up even without the leaks, after all the regs just say you’ve got to have an OWS they don’t say it’s got to be big enough to do any good. So, I started turning in shipyard repair requests for the bad bearings and was politely told they’d get this stuff repaired at the next dry dock in two years. So, I dutifully ran the OWS 24/7 and called for pump off at every port we entered to take care of what the OWS couldn’t. When the disposal bills started coming in they transfered me to a newer less leaky ship which was fine with me but I was kind of hoping they’d move me shoreside.


funny how they react when you bring oily waste/ OWS to someones attention. Had the same experience on GOM AHTS
after discovering hose attached to used oil discharge deck fitting leading overboard on several occasions. All good though, ended up being a step up without the liability.


Yes, it’s funny how things work out. They can’t very well fire you or they’d risk you doing a ‘whistleblower’ report on them and collect a percentage of the fine which should help out while looking for a job. Two hundred thousand US dollars or so will get you by for awhile.
You do get a little grief though because with many companies the chief,the captain and other higher echelon office types split a cost savings bonus based on fuel saved and waste not disposed shoreside. Some of these guys get upset when the chief decides to forgo his [and the captains] little bonus so as to not risk his livelihood in order to save a billionaire CEO a few bucks and the bonus goes down; needless to say the ship superintendent gets extremely upset as his share of the bonus is much higher than the captain’s or the chief’s.
But at least one can sleep at night with ones license safely tucked away and your integrity intact.


Auto OWS is pie in the sky. My operation is easier than most. Burning MGO, not HFO or blends. I only have to contend with bilge slops and theivege. The biggest problem with the small coalescers is the soap in the bilge slops. If you strip the bilge with the OWS, the screens will clog. It’s easier to strip directly to the OW tank and decant throught the OWS.
I don’t trust OCMs even though I calibrate regularly. I’d like to make it to issue #8. injunear


I’ve been using a micro-bio “soap” for years that you can run right thru the OWS after a decent bilge or slop tank retention time. MSC and others have been using it for many years. The stuff is expensive but a little goes a long way. Some companies won’t spring for the stuff but most that try it stick with it. You’ve got to put a lock on the concentrate and put somebody with a brain in charge of diluting it or your cost will get you in trouble. It’s an excellent degreaser but it can’t stand contamination with any other normal phosphate/chemical type soaps as they’ll kill the little micro-bio bugs that eat the oil and crap out OWS suitable waste. Therefore you’ve got to convert over to this stuff exclusively. The stuff smells good too which of course is important to us engineering types.


The Bilge-Boy coalescers we use are more sensitive to the emulsifacation line in the OW tank. When the OCM senses 15ppm and diverts, the filters are starting to sludge. My OW slops probably average 90% water/10% oil. If I don’t push too close to the line, I can get good filter life. In a perfect world, the self-splitting degreaser they want us to use would be great but is highly flammable. I’m fortunate to be on runs where some of the refineries we load and discharge will take our slops. It appears to be more cost effective than pumping back to the bunker barge. injunear


I’ve been reading this and I totally agree with you all,
However there is a new OWS on the market that runes fully automated and copes with all emulsions,
ask for references for Senitec , you’ll be amazed, it maid my life a lot easier.


Totally automated OWS systems have been out for years and have made life easier. What hasn’t changed is the pressure from management to "reduce’ shoreside disposal costs. I heard a converstion at the NO airport not long ago between a couple of OSV engine room guys that worked for the largest privately owned OSV company in the USA talking about their concerns regarding this so it still goes on. I suggested they refuse and they said they would either be fired for some reason or not get on a newer vessel when one was available. I find this a little difficult to believe.


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Considering the reward for whistle blowing for this sort of thing and the consequences for being complicant I would always refuse.


tengineer, I work for that company you are talking about and I find that VERY difficult to believe. That has not been my experience at all. Although I’m not an engineer, I have never run into any resistance when it comes to getting rid of waste oil or bilge slops. As a matter of fact it has been just the opposite. The company has been very accomodating regarding this issue. Again, this is just my own personal experience, I can’t speak for all their vessels.


I’m involved in sales of the new evolutionary OWS and I’ve been in at least 50 meetings with different management and crews during this year.
When we visit the chief engineers we are usually greeted initially in a conservative way. After a while in a conversation the facts/problems comes out.
My experience is that the crew and C/E are afraid to openly talk about the problems with OWS in use today. There are lot of “night discharges” going on and everybody feels bad about it.
However as long as the message is not communicated to the land based management who is often in charge of the investment budget the tings will not change.
When we talk to the management they tell us that there are no bigger issues with the oily water and that the cost for discharge onshore is insignificant.
Clearly in many of our meetings the land based management did not have a correct picture of the situation onboard their ships.
In my opinion the responsibility of oil dumping at sea should be evenly split between the vessel and the land based management. That should change the way of thinking and communication internally between management and their ships.


"In my opinion the responsibility of oil dumping at sea should be evenly split between the vessel and the land based management. That should change the way of thinking and communication internally between management and their ships."
In the past bonuses for shoreside disposal savings were given to the capt. and eng… Bonuses are still given by many companies to shoreside management for cost savings regarding operational costs which include waste disposal. Like bonuses given to corporate executives based on stock price this can and does result in all manner of nefarious activity.


now days,
collect all waste oil.
get money when sludge disposal at china port.
better than dumping at sea.
bonus for engine room staff.
sometimes old man ask share for their contributing.heh.
my last ship have memory card on OWS.


I’ve heard of chiefs on Matson ships trading the ship’s waste oil for a couple of pallets of brew… finally the inguneers got it right.