Proposed ship recycling instrument progressed at IMO environment meeting

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

The Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) considered the first draft of a proposed new international instrument on ship recycling when it met for its 54th session from 20-24 March. Other issues on the agenda included ballast water management and air pollution from ships. The Committee also adopted a number of amendments to the MARPOL Convention.

Recycling of ships
The MEPC made progress in developing the draft text of a mandatory instrument providing globally-applicable ship recycling regulations for international shipping and for recycling activities. A Working Group on Ship Recycling met during the session to work on the draft text and discuss related issues. The proposed instrument would include articles and an annex with regulations for safe and environmentally-sound recycling of ships, covering requirements for ships, requirements for ship recycling facilities and reporting requirements.

A work plan for the further development of the draft legally-binding instrument was developed by the working group and agreed by the Committee. It would see the draft further developed during 2006-2007 with a view to completion in time for its consideration and adoption in the 2008-2009 biennium.

A correspondence group was established to carry out that task and to develop a provisional list of necessary guidelines. It will report to the next session of MEPC in October 2006.

The MEPC also considered 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. The views of the group were taken into account by the MEPC Working Group on Ship Recycling and it was noted that the Committee would continue co operating with ILO and the Basel Convention on this subject.

Adoption of amendments to MARPOL
The MEPC adopted 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).

MARPOL regulation on oil fuel tank protection
The amendment to the revised MARPOL Annex I (which was adopted in October 2004 with entry into force set for 1 January 2007) includes a new regulation 12A on oil fuel tank protection. The regulation is intended to apply to all ships delivered on or after 1 August 2010 with an aggregate oil fuel capacity of 600m3 and 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 2,500m3 per oil fuel tank is included in the 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 were also adopted.

The MEPC also agreed to include appropriate text referring to the new regulation in the amendments to the Guidelines for the application of the revised MARPOL Annex I requirements to FPSOs and FSUs and approved a Unified Interpretation on the application of the regulation to column-stabilized MODUs.

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.

MARPOL Annex IV amendments
The amendment to MARPOL Annex IV Prevention of pollution by sewage from ships adds a new regulation 13 on Port State control on operational requirements. The regulation states that a ship, when in a port or an offshore terminal 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.

Amendments to BCH Code
Amendments to the Code for the Construction and Equipment of Ships Carrying Dangerous Chemicals in Bulk (BCH Code) were adopted as a consequence of the revised Annex II of MARPOL 73/78 and the amended International Code for the Construction and Equipment of Ships carrying Dangerous Chemicals in Bulk (IBC Code), which are expected to enter into force on 1 January 2007. The MEPC also adopted a resolution on Early and Effective Application of the 2006 amendments to the BCH Code to invite MARPOL Parties to consider the application of the amendments to the BCH Code, as soon as practically possible, to ships entitled to fly their flag. Also adopted were the revised Guidelines for the provisional assessment of liquids transported in bulk. In this context the Committee urged industry, in particular the chemical industry, to provide information on the revision of List 2 of the MEPC circular which contains pollutant-only mixtures based on section 5 of the revised Guidelines.

South Africa Special Area
The MEPC agreed to the designation of the southern South African sea area as a Special Area under MARPOL Annex I and approved the draft amendment in respect of the Special Area to regulation 1(11) of the revised MARPOL Annex I. The draft amendment will be circulated for consideration with a view to adoption at MEPC 55 in October 2006.

Harmful aquatic organisms in ballast water
The MEPC adopted 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.
Eleven sets of guidelines are referred to in the Convention. Six have already been adopted and the remainder are being developed by the Sub-Committee on Bulk Liquids and Gases (BLG) with input from the Sub-Committee on Flag State Implementation (FSI).

The MEPC agreed to give basic approval to two ballast water management systems that make use of active substances, after consideration of the report of the first session of the GESAMP1 Ballast Water Working Group on Active Substances, which met in January 2006.

One system involves the use of a biocide for treatment of ballast water and the other involves the disinfection of ballast water by electrolysis with the generation of free chlorine, sodium hypochlorite and hydroxyl radicals and by electrochemical oxidation through the creation of ozone and hydrogen peroxide.

The Committee noted that, to date, six countries (Maldives, Saint Kitts and Nevis, the Syrian Arab Republic, Spain, Nigeria and Tuvalu) had ratified or acceded to the Ballast Water Management Convention, becoming Contracting States. The Committee urged Member States to give consideration to the ratification, acceptance, approval of, or accession to, the BWM Convention at the earliest possible opportunity.

Meanwhile, during the MEPC meeting, IMO launched the IMO/BBC Worldwide documentary film, "Invaders from the Sea", which illustrates the harm caused by aquatic species transported in ballast water and highlights the progress made by IMO and the maritime industry in addressing this issue and the measures which can be taken to prevent the spread of harmful organisms. (See Briefing 10/2006)

Prevention of air pollution from ships
A working group was established to consider issues relating to the prevention of air pollution from ships, including follow-up action to the IMO Policies and practices related to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions from ships (resolution A.963(23)).

Following the work by the group, the MEPC approved two circulars aimed at assisting implementation of MARPOL Annex VI:

1.     The MEPC Circular on Bunker Delivery Note and Fuel Oil Sampling, to clarify how to comply with regulation 18, which places requirements on ship owners and fuel oil suppliers in respect of bunker delivery notes and representative samples of the fuel oil received and on Parties to the 1997 Protocol to regulate the bunker suppliers in their ports. The circular urges all Member States, both Parties and non-Parties to the 1997 Protocol, to require fuel oil suppliers in their ports to comply with the requirements and to raise awareness of the necessity to enhance implementation and enforcement of regulation 18 of Annex VI.

2.     The MEPC circular on Notification to the Organization on ports or terminals where volatile organic compounds (VOCs) emissions are to be regulated, which notes that regulation 15 of Annex VI requires Parties to inform the Organization of their intention to introduce requirements for the use of vapour emission control systems and to notify the Organization of ports and terminals under their jurisdiction where such requirements are already in force. However, many terminals are implementing or operating such practices without notification to the Organization. The Committee shared the concern that, since there is no circulation of such information, it is difficult for owners and operators to prepare for these changes at ports and terminals. The circular reiterates that Parties to the 1997 Protocol are required to notify the Organization without delay with information on ports and terminals under their jurisdiction at which VOCs emissions are or will be regulated, and on requirements imposed on ships calling at these ports and terminals. Any information received by the Organization on the availability of vapour emission control systems will be circulated through MEPC circulars so that owners and operators will have up to-date information on current and future requirements for the utilization of such systems.

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 progress of this work will be reported to the next session of the MEPC.

The Committee and its Working Group on Air Pollution had long and extensive debates on how to follow up resolution A.963(23) on IMO Policies and Practices related to the Reduction of Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Ships. By the resolution, the Assembly urged MEPC to identify and develop the necessary mechanisms needed to achieve the limitation or reduction of GHG emissions from international shipping. Among the items considered was whether only emission of CO2 or of all six greenhouse gases identified by the Kyoto Protocol should be included. The MEPC agreed to consider the follow-up actions to resolution A.963(23) in a technical and methodological perspective and to concentrate the work on CO2 emissions. The Committee also agreed to continue the work at the next session and, in particular, to consider further a draft work plan to identify and develop the mechanisms needed to achieve the goal set by the Assembly.

Particularly Sensitive Sea Areas (PSSAs)
The MEPC approved a uniform format for future MEPC resolutions designating PSSAs and the revised Guidance Document for Submission of PSSA Proposals to IMO.

OPRC-HNS implementation
The MEPC considered the report of the fourth meeting of the OPRC HNS2 Technical Group, held in the week prior to the Committee's session.

The Committee reviewed the draft Guidance document on planning and response to chemical releases in the marine environment and agreed to consider the finalized text at MEPC 55 for approval. The MEPC also noted the work done in developing the draft manual on oil spill risk evaluation and assessment of response preparedness; the revised draft IMO/UNEP Manual on the assessment and restoration of environmental damage following marine oil spills; and the development of two introductory courses on preparedness for and response to HNS incidents.

The Committee was made aware of the introduction of an IMO web page providing information on preparedness and response to marine oil spills, now activated on the IMO website, and approved the content and structure of a website providing information and assistance for HNS incidents developed by the Group.

Port reception facilities database
The Committee noted that the Internet-based Port Reception Facility Database (PRFD) went live to the public on 1 March 2006, as a module of the IMO Global Integrated Shipping Information System (GISIS) The database provides data on the available port reception facilities for the reception of ship-generated waste and is designed to allow Member States to update it via a log-in password, and to allow the public access to all the information on a view-only basis.

Meanwhile, the MEPC emphasized the importance of adequate reception facilities in the chain of implementation of the MARPOL Convention, and stated that the policy of "zero tolerance of illegal discharges from ships" could only be effectively enforced when there were adequate reception facilities in ports. Therefore the Committee urged all Parties to the MARPOL Convention, particularly port States, to fulfil their treaty obligations to provide reception facilities for wastes generated during the normal operation of ships.

Revised guidelines for handling oily wastes
The MEPC approved the Revised Guidelines for systems for handling oily wastes in machinery spaces of ships incorporating guidance notes for an integrated bilge water treatment system (IBTS). A draft MEPC circular on the Harmonized Implementation of the Revised Guidelines and Specifications for Pollution Prevention Equipment for Machinery Space Bilges of Ships adopted by resolution MEPC.107(49), which provides guidance concerning specifically the type-approval process with the aim of ensuring that realistic on-board operating conditions are taken into account during the tests, was referred to the DE Sub-Committee for further consideration.

Briefing 11, 30 March 2006

1GESAMP: IMO/FAO/UNESCO/IOC/WHO/IAEA/UN/UNEP Joint Group of Experts on the Scientific Aspects of Marine Environmental Protection
2 International Convention on Oil Pollution Preparedness, Response and Co-operation (OPRC Convention) and the OPRC-HNS (Hazardous and Noxious Substances) Protocol

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