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Sydney ferry fatality highlights need for wastewater treatment

THE importance of properly maintaining chemical toilets aboard ship has been raised after a fatality aboard a Sydney Harbour ferry in which toxic gas was detected in a toilet, said ACO Marine, a German supplier of wastewater treatment

28 February 2019 - 19:00

THE importance of properly maintaining chemical toilets aboard ship has been raised after a fatality aboard a Sydney Harbour ferry in which toxic gas was detected in a toilet, said ACO Marine, a German supplier of wastewater treatment.

The fatality involved a 39-year-old passenger was found unconscious in a toilet cubicle aboard the Lady Rose and could not be revived by paramedics.



While the reasons behind her death are unconfirmed, during the initial investigation HAZMAT crews detected hazardous levels of hydrogen sulphide gas in the toilet cubicle, said the ACO Marine press release.



A New South Wales Police report stated: 'Investigators were advised that several gas detection tests were conducted in a bathroom area of the vessel and were found to be in excess of safe operating levels.'



Said ACO Marine managing director Mark Beavis: 'Some small passenger vessels do not have installed treatment systems and therefore store wastewater in holding tanks, but if these are not regularly flushed and aerated then the contents can become anaerobic and generate lethal H2S gas.'



Hydrogen sulphide is a gas produced during the decomposition of waste. In modest concentrations of between 700 and 1,000 ppm it is toxic and can lead to sudden collapse and death, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).



Mr Beavis said one way of protecting passengers from the hazardous gases generated from untreated effluent is to ensure that all bathrooms and toilet cubicles are fitted with sensors.



'Sensors with integrated alarms on the bridge would allow for more immediate action in the event of any hazardous gas leaks,' he said.


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