Ship recycling, air pollution and ballast water management on agenda at IMO environment meeting

Preview: Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) - 55th session: 9 - 13 October 2006


The Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) will consider the draft of a proposed ship recycling convention when it meets for its 55th session from 9-13 October, at Central Hall, Westminster, London. Other major issues on the agenda include ballast water management and air pollution from ships.

The Committee is also expected to adopt a number of amendments to the MARPOL Convention, including the designation of the Southern South African sea area as a Special Area under Annex I of the Convention and the revised MARPOL Annex III Regulations for the prevention of pollution by harmful substances carried by sea in packaged form.

Recycling of ships
The MEPC is expected to consider further the draft text 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 final consideration and adoption in the 2008-2009 biennium.

The Committee will consider the report of an intersessional Correspondence Group on Ship Recycling. The Group has further developed the draft instrument, which is intended to 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.

Adoption of amendments to MARPOL
The MEPC will be invited to consider, for adoption, the following 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):

  · amendments to the revised MARPOL Annex I to designate the Southern South African sea area as a Special Area; and
  · adoption of the revised MARPOL Annex III Regulations for the prevention of pollution by harmful substances carried by sea in packaged form. The Annex has been revised to harmonize the regulations with the criteria for defining marine pollutants which have been adopted by the UN Transport of Dangerous Goods (TDG) Sub-Committee, based on the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS). The criteria are deemed to be appropriate for the transport of packaged dangerous goods.

Amendments to the Condition Assessment Scheme
The MEPC is expected to adopt amendments to the Condition Assessment Scheme (CAS) clarifying the validity of the Statement of Compliance where there is a change of ownership of the ship, change of recognized organization or change of flag and giving the procedures to follow in these cases.

Amendments to the Guidelines for the transport and handling of limited amounts of hazardous and noxious liquid substances in bulk on offshore supply vessels
The MEPC will be invited to consider, for adoption, the amendments to the Guidelines for the transport and handling of limited amounts of hazardous and noxious liquid substances in bulk on offshore supply vessels (LHNS guidelines) consequent upon the entry into force of the revised MARPOL Annex II and the amended IBC Code on 1 January 2007.

Revised sewage standards
Draft revised Guidelines on implementation of effluent standards and performance tests for sewage treatment plants will be put forward for adoption by the MEPC. The revised guidelines are intended to replace the Recommendation on international effluent standards and guidelines for performance tests for sewage treatment plants adopted by resolution MEPC.2(VI) in 1976.

Harmful aquatic organisms in ballast water
The MEPC is expected to consider, for adoption, the following guidelines 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) adopted in February 2004:

  · ballast water exchange design and control standards (G11);
  · design and construction to facilitate sediment control on ships (G12);
  · additional measures including emergency situations (G13);
  · designation of areas for ballast water exchange (G14);
  · sediment reception facilities (G1);
  · ballast water reception facilities (G5).

Six other guidelines in the series have already been adopted during the last two sessions of the MEPC.

The MEPC is expected to take a decision related to the Basic Approval of three ballast water management systems that make use of Active Substances, after consideration of the report of the second meeting of the GESAMP Ballast Water Working Group which met in May 2006.

The Ballast Water Review Group is expected to reconvene at this session to evaluate the latest information on ballast water treatment technologies and to determine whether appropriate technologies are available to achieve the ballast water performance standard required under regulation D-2 of the BWM Convention. The first Review during MEPC 53 concluded that a variety of systems being tested on board have the potential to meet the criteria required by the Convention.

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 and emission of greenhouse gases from ships, including:

  · ship carbon dioxide (CO2) emission indexing and the development of a draft work plan to identify and develop the mechanisms needed to achieve the limitation or reduction of (CO2) emission from ships;
  · standardization of on-shore power supply connections with ships;
  · recommendations and criteria relevant to Exhaust Gas (SOx) Cleaning Systems wash-water discharges;
  · Unified Interpretations relating to the implementation and enforcement of MARPOL Annex VI, the NOx Technical Code and related guidelines; and
  · development of a standard form for the SECA Compliance Certificate to facilitate uniform enforcement and, in particular, port State control.

An update will be given on the review of MARPOL Annex VI and the NOx Technical Code, which is being undertaken by the Sub-Committee on Bulk Liquids and Gases (BLG). An intersessional meeting of the BLG Air Pollution Working Group is scheduled to take place in November 2006 in Norway, to progress the work further.

Inadequacy of reception facilities
The MEPC is expected to approve a proposed draft Action Plan to tackle the alleged inadequacy of port reception facilities - seen as a major hurdle to overcome in order to achieve full compliance with MARPOL. The draft plan was agreed by the Sub-Committee on Flag State Implementation (FSI) when it met for its 14th session in June.

The draft plan contains a list of proposed work items to be undertaken by IMO with the aim of improving the provision and use of adequate port reception facilities, including items relating to reporting requirements; provision of information on port reception facilities; identification of any technical problems encountered between ship and shore-based transfer of waste and standardization of garbage segregation requirements and containment identification; review of type and amount of wastes generated on board and the type and capacity of port reception facilities; and regulatory matters including development of guidelines for establishing regional arrangements for reception facilities, revision of the IMO Comprehensive Manual on Port Reception Facilities and development of a Guide of Good Practice on Port Reception Facilities.

OPRC-HNS implementation
The MEPC will be invited to consider the report of the fifth meeting of the OPRC HNS Technical Group, which is being held in the week prior to the Committee's session and is expected to consider, for approval, the Guidance document on planning and response to chemical releases in the marine environment that was prepared by the fourth session of the OPRC-HNS Technical Group.

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 IMO/UNEP Manual on the assessment and restoration of environmental damage following marine oil spills; the draft revised Manual on oil pollution - Section V: Administrative aspects of oil pollution response; the draft revised Manual on oil pollution Section I - Prevention; and it will also consider the possible development of a new Manual on chemical pollution to address legal and administrative aspects of HNS incidents.

The Group will also review progress on the development of two IMO training courses on the introduction to preparedness and response for HNS incidents and consider possible topics for the fourth R&D Forum.

Briefing 34, 5 October 2006

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1International Convention on Oil Pollution Preparedness, Response and Co-operation (OPRC Convention) and the OPRC-HNS (Harzardous and Noxious Substances) Protocol.

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