Clarification on halons ban in the European Union

Further to our article regarding the requirement for systems using halons to be removed from ships by 31 December 2003, we have received a number of enquiries regarding the exact nature of the ban and the exemptions for existing cargo vessels using halon-based fire-fighting systems. A summary of the consequences of the ban follows.

As stated previously, Regulation 2037/2000 entered into force in October 2000 and set a deadline of 31 December 2003 for the removal of systems using halon 1301 from all ships. However, an exemption exists (Annex VII “Critical Uses”) for existing cargo vessels built before 1994 (as per SOLAS Chapter II-2) that are using the halon system for critical use, namely the making inert of occupied spaces where flammable liquid and/or gas release could occur. No change has occurred in this regulation.

Confusion has arisen due to proposals to remove the exemption for existing cargo vessels using halon in fire-fighting equipment and replace the exemption with a blanket ban with a longer grace period for entry into force, i.e. the next dry docking. This was recently rejected by the European Environment Directorate, meaning that the original version of the regulation as explained above will be maintained.

With regard to the replenishment of halon systems used for critical use as described above, the IMO has published a list of facilities in Europe and around the world that can supply halon for this use.

Click here for view the IMO circular.

Contact: Tim Wilkins