Disclosed is a biomechanical apparatus and method for the continuous phase-separation and biological treatment of ship bilgewater contaminated with petroleum and biodegradable materials. The apparatus includes a pumping system attached directly to the bilge or waste oil holding tank for removing the biodegradable material(s) contained in the bilge waste aqueous and non-aqueous phases, which is integrated with a system for microbiologically treating the contaminated bilgewater. The system for microbiologically treating the contaminated bilgewater preferably includes petroleum- and hazardous material-degrading microorganisms. In operation, the three stage apparatus combines functions to physically separate petroleum hydrocarbons from the water phase, process and microbiologically destroy the petroleum hydrocarbons in the water and monitor and direct the discharge of the processed water overboard or recirculation back into the bilge compartment. The separated free-product is removed from the first stage, to a holding tank for off-site disposal, recycling or on-board incineration.
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