Proposed ship recycling instrument to be considered at IMO environment meeting

Preview: Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) - 54th session: 20-24 March 2006

The Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) will consider the first draft of a proposed new international instrument on ship recycling when it meets for its 54th session from 20-24 March. Other issues on the agenda include ballast water management and air pollution from ships, while the Committee is also expected to adopt a number of amendments to the MARPOL convention.

Recycling of ships
The MEPC is expected to consider the first draft of a mandatory instrument providing globally applicable ship recycling regulations for international shipping and for recycling activities. The aim is to complete the instrument in time for its consideration and adoption in the 2008-2009 biennium.

Work on developing the new instrument follows the adoption by the IMO Assembly in 2005 of resolution A.981(24) New legally-binding instrument on Ship Recycling which requests the MEPC to develop a new instrument that would provide regulations for:

  · the design, construction, operation and preparation of ships so as to facilitate safe and environmentally sound recycling, without compromising the safety and operational efficiency of ships;
  · the operation of ship recycling facilities in a safe and environmentally sound manner; and
  · the establishment of an appropriate enforcement mechanism for ship recycling, incorporating certification and reporting requirements.

The MEPC will also consider the report of the second session of the Joint International Labour Organization (ILO)/IMO/Basel Convention Working Group on Ship Scrapping which met in December 2005 in Geneva.

Adoption of amendments to MARPOL
The MEPC will be invited to consider for adoption a number of amendments to the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships, 1973, as modified by the Protocol of 1978 relating thereto (MARPOL 73/78).

Draft MARPOL regulation on oil fuel tank protection
The draft amendment to the revised MARPOL Annex I (which was adopted in October 2004 with entry into force set for 1 January 2007) would include a new regulation on oil fuel tank protection. The draft regulation is intended to apply to all ships delivered on or after 1 August 2010 with an aggregate oil fuel capacity of 600 m3and above. It includes requirements for the protected location of the fuel tanks and performance standards for accidental oil fuel outflow. A maximum capacity limit of 2,500 m3 per oil fuel tank is included in the draft regulation, which also requires Administrations to consider general safety aspects, including the need for maintenance and inspection of wing and double bottom tanks or spaces, when approving the design and construction of ships in accordance with the regulation. Consequential amendments to the IOPP Certificate will also be considered.

Definition of heavy grade oil
A further amendment to the revised MARPOL Annex I relates to the definition of "heavy grade oil" in regulation 21 on Prevention of oil pollution from oil tankers carrying heavy grade oil as cargo, replacing the words "fuel oils" with "oils, other than crude oils", thereby broadening the scope of the regulation by including in the carriage ban on single hull oil tankers other heavy grade oils whose carriage is permitted under the current regulation.

MARPOL Annex IV amendments
The draft amendment to MARPOL Annex IV Prevention of pollution by sewage from ships would add a new regulation 13 on Port State control on operational requirements. The draft regulation states that a ship, when in a port of another Party, is subject to inspection by officers duly authorized by such Party concerning operational requirements under the Annex, where there are clear grounds for believing that the master or crew are not familiar with essential shipboard procedures relating to the prevention of pollution by sewage.

Harmful aquatic organisms in ballast water
The MEPC is expected to consider for adoption the Guidelines for approval and oversight of prototype ballast water treatment technology programmes (G10), which are part of a series of guidelines developed to assist in the implementation of the International Convention for the Control and Management of Ships' Ballast Water and Sediments (BWM Convention), which was adopted in February 2004.

The MEPC is also expected to consider the outcome of the first session of the GESAMP1 Ballast Water Working Group on Active Substances, which met in January 2006 and was tasked with developing methodologies and information requirements for conducting its work and reviewing proposals for the approval of Active Substances.

Prevention of air pollution from ships
The MEPC is expected to establish a working group to consider issues relating to the prevention of air pollution from ships, in particular follow-up action to the IMO Policies and practices related to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions from ships (resolution A.963(23)).

As instructed by MEPC 53, the Sub-Committee on Bulk Liquids and Gases (BLG) will undertake a review of MARPOL Annex VI and the NOx Technical Code with a view to revising the regulations to take account of current technology and the need to further reduce air pollution from ships. The outcome of this work will be reported to the next session of the MEPC.

OPRC-HNS implementation
The MEPC will be invited to consider the report of the fourth meeting of the OPRC HNS2 Technical Group to be held in the week prior to the Committee's session. The Technical Group has on its agenda a number of items including the review and/or finalization of the draft manual on oil spill risk evaluation and assessment of response preparedness; the draft Guidance Document on Planning and Response to Chemical Releases in the Marine Environment; the revised draft IMO/UNEP guidance manual on the assessment and reinstatement of environmental damage following marine oil spills; and the development of two introductory courses on preparedness for and response to HNS incidents.

Special Areas and Particularly Sensitive Sea Areas (PSSAs)
The MEPC is expected to establish a Technical Group to consider a proposal submitted by South Africa for the designation of South Africa's southern continental shelf waters as a Special Area under MARPOL Annex I, and to develop uniform formats for the MEPC resolutions designating PSSAs and the Guidance Document for Submission of PSSA Proposals to IMO.

1 GESAMP: IMO/FAO/UNESCO/IOC/WHO/IAEA/UN/UNEP Joint Group of Experts on the Scientific Aspects of Marinte Environmental Protection.

2 International Convention on Oil Pollution Preparedness, Response and Co-operation (OPRC Conventions) and the OPRC-HNS (Hazardous and Noxious Substances) Protocol.

Briefing 07, 16 March 2006

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