The West of England P&I Club informs about recent changes in the law regarding the imposition of fines for vessels allegedly found to have discharged contaminated segregated ballast water in the Ukraine.
The law in the Ukraine regarding the control of segregated ballast water on board vessels has recently changed. If a vessel has segregated ballast tanks, ecological inspectors are no longer permitted to board, inspect IOPP certification, take segregated ballast water samples for analysis or impose fines on the grounds that the vessel has discharged contaminated segregated ballast water. Moreover, ecological inspectors in Ukraine are no longer included in the list of official personnel required to board vessels in order to issue inward clearance.
However, in spite of the new legislation, ecological inspectors may still try to board vessels with segregated ballast tanks during cargo operations and demand to take samples of the ballast water. As the inspectors are no longer authorised to do so, masters are advised to reject their demands and invite the inspectors to return once a Club correspondent or local lawyer is in attendance.
The Club says that Masters may use the following extract from the Ukrainian Ecological Regulations, translated by Dias Marine Consulting, to justify their refusal to permit access to and sampling of segregated ballast water:
On 3 April 2015 there came into force Order 82 dd. 18.03.2015 (filing No. 343/26788) of the Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources of Ukraine “on introducing changes into some state ecological control regulations”. By virtue of this Order chemical control of segregated ballast is cancelled. The said Order is aimed at improvement of the ecological control service activity and also it is intended to bring certain Ukrainian normative and legal acts in conformity with the international law.
For example, some changes were made in the regulations related to ecological control of ships at the national frontier check-points and areas covered by the regional customs. In particular, Item 1.5 of the said regulations gives a definition of the notion of “segregated ballast” in accordance with MARPOL Convention 73/78. Besides, paragraph 7 of Item 1.12 of the said regulations was also amended – in the new redaction authority of the state ecological inspectors to make analysis of the segregated ballast water is annulled.
In the same way their authority to take samples and carry out laboratory analyses of the segregated ballast for its contents and characteristics is withdrawn by force of the amended item 6.0 of the marine ecological inspections regulations.
Although ecological inspectors no longer appear to target vessels with segregated ballast tanks in certain ports including Odessa, Yuzhny and Illyichevsk, this practice may still be encountered in other ports in Ukraine. In a recent case involving an entered vessel in Nikolaev, ecological inspectors managed to gain access by alleging that they had witnessed an oily sheen on the water surrounding the vessel after de-ballasting had commenced.
Once on board they took samples of segregated ballast water and subsequently imposed a fine on the grounds that the ballast water was contaminated, which was not the case. It appears that this was not the first time that ecological inspectors have used oil sheen allegations as a tactic to try and circumvent the new legislation.
If ecological inspectors claim that they saw an oily sheen on the surface of the water near a vessel with segregated ballast tanks, or otherwise attempt to board, the master should refuse access and contact the Club or the local correspondent for immediate assistance.
Source: The West of England P&I Club
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