Ships calling at Port of Tallinn’s Old City Harbour will soon be able to discharge unlimited amounts of sewage

 In May this year, Port of Tallinn’s subsidiary company TS Energia began connecting the sewage pipeline of the Old City Harbour with the deep sewer system of the city to ensure better reception of sewage from passenger ships and cruise ships. For this purpose a deep sewer pipeline also known as micro-tunnel will be built.

Thanks to the micro-tunnel all ships that call at the Old City Harbour will be able to discharge unlimited amounts of sewage. At the moment ships can discharge 7mᵌ of sewage under the waste fee, but after the construction of the micro-tunnel there will be no such limit.

So far this limited quantity has been sufficient because ships sailing in the Baltic Sea have been allowed to discharge comminuted and disinfected sewage at a distance of 4 nautical miles and untreated sewage at a distance of 12 nautical miles from the nearest land. On 22 of April 2016, however, the Marine Environment Protection Committee of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) at its 69th session reached the decision that passenger ship sewage discharges into the Baltic Sea will be banned from 2021. The decision will make the Baltic Sea the first region in the world where sewage from passenger ships must be discharged at port reception facilities, or treated with an on-board treatment plant certified as meeting stringent special area requirements. For new ships built from 2019 onwards, these requirements will apply earlier. However, in certain cases of direct passages between the St. Petersburg area and the North Sea there is a two-year extension to the deadline, until 2023.

In May 2016 construction works began on the micro-tunnel, the main objective of which is to increase the reception capacity of sewage from 100 mᵌ to 1,000 mᵌ per hour. When all construction work is finished, the Old City Harbour will be provided with sewer a network which meets the IMO requirements.

For the construction of the sewage pipeline in the port, Port of Tallinn has requested and received EU co-financing from the development of the Helsinki-Tallinn maritime link projects: Twin-Port I and Twin- Port II.

The Baltic Sea is a small sea on a global scale, but being one of the largest bodies of brackish water, it is ecologically unique and extremely sensitive to environmental impacts caused by human activity. Estonian Fund for Nature in collaboration with the World Wildlife Fund’s partner organizations from the nine Baltic Sea countries have already in 2009 contacted ports and shipping companies to voluntarily ban sewage discharge into the sea to protect the marine environment. 

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