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Friday, January 19, 2018

QUESTIONS STILL UNANSWERED ON IMO TBT BAN

At the IMO’s Marine Environment Protection Committee meeting last week the phasing out of TBT based anti-fouling paints was discussed for the last time before the legislation is finalised at a Diplomatic Conference in October. Two days of discussions were held on this issue with delegates attempting to resolve some of the fundamental issues that need to be settled before the Convention can be adopted. These issues included the use of sealer coats, the possibility of phasing out future antifoulings without full scientific evidence and some further options which aimed to smooth out the high requirement for dry-docking when the ban dates come into force. Please see below for further information:

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Issues such as whether the TBT based coating has to be fully removed from the hull or whether it can be covered with a sealer coating and the procedure to ban future harmful anti-fouling systems were debated at length with little or no solid conclusion. In the former case a compromise was offered which suggests that blasting and over-coating using a barrier coat may be permissible. This option together with the complete removal option have been sent to the Conference for a final decision.

Although some suggestions based on a list that would outline all the chemicals ‘allowed’ to be used as antifoulings were tabled it is generally agreed that only a list of banned substances will be developed. Further still, some States have expressed their desire to include the Precautionary Principle in the legislation. The first and foremost effect of this could see substances being banned without the requirement of full and substantial scientific evidence on their harmful effects to the environment. This may well cause problems in the future when owners are seeking new coatings which may be banned before their effective life has been completed. Should this be included then a further text will have to be drawn into the legislation that does not permit coatings to be banned on a frequent basis but allows them to be done  in a more gradual manner.

It was also suggested with some support that compliance with the complete removal date of 2008 could be facilitated for the owner by allowing certain vessels to run past this date and to re-coat at the next dry-docking within 6 months of the 1st January 2008. In particular this may be useful for tankers which are due to be phased-out around this period. Certain delegations implied that they would raise this possibility again at the Diplomatic Conference giving specific reference to the tanker phase-out implications.

One major problem that will have to be debated at the Conference is the entry into force criteria, i.e. how many States representing a specified tonnage will have to ratify the Convention before it comes into force. It is worth noting that the Bunker Liability Conference spent a  week just debating this one aspect, implying that there will need to be some serious thinking done before discussion is opened on this issue at the anti-fouling Conference at the end of the year.

INTERTANKO will attend the Diplomatic Conference in October 2001 at the IMO in London where the final agreement on the Convention will be made.