MARPOL Regulation Changes: What It Means to You
MARPOL 73/78 is the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships, 1973, as modified by the Protocol of 1978. Originally created in recognition of the fact that operational pollution was the primary threat to the environment, the 1973 Convention incorporated much of OILPOL 1954 and its amendments into Annex I, covering oil. This convention was additionally intended to address other forms of pollution from ships. Other annexes covered chemicals, harmful substances carried in packaged form, sewage and garbage.
Later, in February of 1978, in direct response to some high-profile tanker accidents, the IMO held a Conference on Tanker Safety and Pollution Prevention. Beyond achieving the entry into force of MARPOL, the 1978 MARPOL Protocol allowed States to become Party to the Convention by first implementing Annex I (oil), with Annex II (chemicals) not becoming binding until three years after the Protocol entered into force.
A key stumbling block for MARPOL was the technical problems for some states in complying with Annex II. The combined instrument - the International Convention for the Prevention of Marine Pollution from Ships, 1973 as modified by the Protocol of 1978 relating thereto (MARPOL 73/78) - finally entered into force on October 2, 1983 (for Annexes I and II).
Annex II covers the control of pollution by noxious liquid substances. Originally entered into force in April of 1987, a revised Annex II has now entered into force as of January 1, 2007. The original Annex II provided guidance on the discharge criteria and measures for the control of pollution by noxious liquid substances carried in bulk. Some 250 substances were evaluated and included in the list appended to the Convention. The discharge of these residues is allowed only to reception facilities until certain concentrations and conditions (which vary with the category of substances) are complied with.
The amendments to Annex II, which deals with liquid noxious substances (such as chemicals), were intended to take into account technological developments since the Annex was drafted in 1973 and to simplify its implementation. In particular, the aim was to reduce the need for reception facilities for chemical wastes and to improve cargo tank stripping efficiencies.
The amendments also made the International Code for the Construction and Equipment of Ships Carrying Dangerous Chemicals in Bulk (IBC Code) mandatory for ships built on or after July 1, 1986. This is important because the Annex itself is concerned only with discharge procedures; the Code contains carriage requirements.
The revised Annex II regulations for the control of pollution by noxious liquid substances in bulk includes a new four-category categorization system for noxious and liquid substances. The new categories are divided up by rating the risks inherent in each substance and what hazards each may present to the marine environment or human health. There are other substances which have been evaluated and found to fall outside the categories and are thus not subject to any requirements of MARPOL Annex II.
What Annex II (revised) Means to You - and Why it Matters
The revised annex calls for a number of significant changes to existing statutes. Improvements in ship technology - more efficient stripping techniques, for example - now allow for ships constructed on or after January 1, 2007 to achieve much smaller maximum permitted residues in tanks and associated piping, with volumes dependent on the product category.
The new hazard evaluation process and categorization system now calls for previously unrestricted vegetable oils to now be required to be carried in chemical tankers. The revised Annex also includes provision for the Administration to exempt ships certified to carry individually identified vegetable oils, subject to certain provisions relating to the location of the cargo tanks carrying the identified vegetable oil. In effect, the numbers of vessels available to carry vegetable oils have changed significantly, and the charter of certain vessels deemed acceptable in the past may no longer be appropriate for your charter. Your SPI Marine broker will know for sure.
A Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) resolution on Guidelines for the transport of vegetable oils in deep tanks or in independent tanks specially designed for the carriage of such vegetable oils on board dry cargo ships allows general dry cargo ships that are currently certified to carry vegetable oil in bulk to continue to carry these vegetable oils on specific trades. The guidelines also took effect on January 1, 2007.