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Challenge / Goal

Since the use of Tributylin (TBT) in hull paint was outlawed in 2001, copper based anti-fouling paint, in conjunction with booster biocides, has become the industry standard.

A leader in its field, Peterhead Port Authority (PPA), has been servicing the fishing industry for over 400 years. Historically, all wash water from their hull cleaning process has been collected in storage tanks. This wash water was found to contain as much as 20 milligrams per litre of copper – the UK standard for the marine environment is 0.5 milligrams per litre.

PPA needed a solution that would reduce the copper levels in their wastewater to compliant standards. Their only option previously was to transport the water for treatment to a waste management facility off-site, incurring high costs, increased safety risks and carbon emissions.


PPA engaged with SEM to find a long-term alternative solution – our DRAM organic filtration technology. DRAM filtration uses biological, chemical, and physical interactions to remove copper, zinc, ammonium, arsenic, mercury, aluminium, lead, cobalt, and other heavy metals from wastewaters. The filtration process involves microbial action combined with various forms of sorption.

This ground-breaking project proved the efficiency of the DRAM filtration system under field conditions. Copper levels in the wash water were reduced by 98%. PPA was then able to discharge hull wash water on-site directly into the harbour in an environmentally responsible manner.


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Time period

Planning time: 6 months to 1 year

Implementation time: Less than 6 months

End users

Peterhead Port Authority (PPA)

    Main benefits

  • Reducing water pollution

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