An oily water separator is a piece of equipment specific to the shipping or marine industry. It is used to separate oil and water mixtures into their separate components. They are found on board ships where they are used to separate oil from oily wastewater such as bilge water before the wastewater is discharged into the environment. These discharges of wastewater must comply with the requirements of MARPOL 73/78.

MARPOL 73/78

The International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships, 1973, as modified by the Protocol of 1978 (MARPOL 73/78), was promoted by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) to prohibit all ships from discharging wastes at sea which could result in pollution of the marine environment. MARPOL 73/78 applies to oil tankers, cruise ships, general cargo and container vessels, tugs, ferries, yachts, and small pleasure craft. The objective of the convention is to reduce the volumes of harmful materials entering the world’s oceans and the marine environment.

Ships have traditionally discharged all their waste into the sea.  In the past, this waste was mainly foodstuffs, timber and packaging materials, The ship’s gear, and lost cargo. More recently it has included oils, chemicals, plastics, and other materials which may float, are not biodegradable, are extremely persistent, and deteriorate very slowly. MARPOL 73/78 requires that ships retain all the waste on board until reaching port.

However, certain wastes can be discharged under certain conditions such as the distance from shore, the type of waste, and the condition of the waste. MARPOL 73/78 requires that countries provide adequate reception facilities in all their ports, harbors, and anchorages. The role of the Bank is to urge and assist countries to sign and ratify the MARPOL Convention. All lending operations for port and harbor development, or other identifiable suitable vehicles, should ensure the provision of adequate port reception facilities in all the country’s ports and harbors.