Greater clarity for HME cargoes re MARPOL V compliance
Shipowners pleas for greater clarity on what to do when there are no adequate port receptionfacilities to receive residues including Hold Washing Water (HWW) from cargoes deemed”Harmful to the Marine Environment” (HME), have been substantially answered after animportant decision at the IMO Marine Environment Protection Committee held on 13-17 May.
With effect from 1 January 2013, shippers and shipowners faced difficulties in meeting therequirements of the amended MARPOL Annex V regulations which entered into force on thatday without knowing whether there were suitable facilities to process the dry residues andHWW at the receiving port.
Compounded by the fact that a few shippers did not realise that the IMO had clarified inCircular MEPC.1/Circ 791 that they had to declare whether a commodity was HME or notwith immediate effect, albeit with some flexibility on the criteria used to define HME until theend of 2014, many shippers and owners were left confused as to how to comply with theregulations.
However, this is set to change after Governments at the IMO meeting consideredrepresentations from Intercargo – the Dry Bulk Shipowners Association and supported byother Round Table Shipowners Associations and concerned Flag and Port States, whichidentified the scale of the problem and suggested a pragmatic interim solution.
Delegates had considered evidence of shortcomings in a representative sample of countriesreceiving dry bulk shipments and with information from the International Council of Miningand Metals (ICMM), were left in no doubt that the difficulties in meeting the regulatoryrequirements were genuine.
IMO will now send an official Circular to Industry providing shipowners / operators with someflexibility and clear guidance on procedures to be adopted when encountering a lack ofadequate port reception facilities for HWW. This will state that, until 31 December 2015,HWW from holds previously containing solid bulk cargoes classified as HME, may bedischarged outside Special Areas, providing :
1. Based on the information from the receiving port, the Master determines thatthere are no adequate reception facilities at the receiving terminal or at thenext port of call;
2. The ship is en-route and as far as practicable but at least 12 nautical milesfrom the nearest land;
3. Before washing, solid bulk cargo residues are removed (and bagged fordischarge ashore) as far as practicable, and the holds swept;
4. Filters are used in the bilge wells to collect any remaining solid particles and tominimize solid residue discharge; and
5. The discharge is recorded in the Garbage Record Book with the Flag Statenotified utilizing the Revised Consolidated Format for Reporting AllegedInadequacies of Port Reception Facilities (MEPC.1 / Circ 469 / Rev 2)
Parties to the MARPOL Annex V Convention were urged to ensure the provision of adequateport reception facilities including HWW and the residues. Shippers within the jurisdiction ofthose states must also provide complete and accurate cargo declarations in accordance withMARPOL Annex V (and circular MEPC.1 / Circ 791) and Section 4 of the IMSBC Code.
Speaking after the conclusion of the IMO meeting, Intercargo’s Technical Manager, Mr IanHarrison said:
“The decision reached is good for IMO and Industry in that it defines clear responsibilities,provides clarity for ships so that they will not fall foul of inadvertent MARPOL transgressionsand otherwise creates an internationally appropriate, environmentally responsible and pragmatic solution to a very real problem”.
“We must remember that this is an interim solution. Shippers, ports and terminals mustcontinue to strive for full compliance with the MARPOL Annex V requirements. Declarationsshould be accurate and proper port reception facilities should be provided as soon aspossible but in any case, within the timeline agreed by IMO”.
“Having extensively researched and consulted with leading Dry Bulk owners and arepresentative body for some of the shippers of HME cargoes, Intercargo is delighted to havemet its members aspirations for a responsible solution.”