Environmental Committee meeting, 19-20 January 2004

A successful two-day meeting of the Environmental Committee was held early this week at the INTERTANKO London Office. Chaired by Vice-Chairman, Dimitris Stamoudis of Ceres Hellenic Shipping Enterprises Ltd., the meeting effectively covered four areas: the policy issues on INTERTANKO’s environmental agenda, the short-listing of the Environmental Challenge entrants, a meeting with the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) and a workshop on ballast treatment technology in conjunction with the EU- funded MARTOB project.

Ship recycling was seen as one of the key issues on the Committee agenda at the moment and much of the time was spent discussing the practical implications of implementing the IMO Guidelines that were adopted late last year. The Committee is keen to see INTERTANKO implement the Guidelines and demonstrate to the IMO Member States that the industry is capable of self regulation – these guidelines being a benchmark for all other voluntary instruments. Of particular importance was the standardisation of the hazardous materials inventory and the provision of more environmental and safety-minded recycling facilities.

For INTERTANKO’s Environmental Challenge, a shortlist of three entrants has now been produced by the Committee following lengthy discussion on each of the applicants. The panel of judges will now be sent the material on the three finalists for their final judgement prior to the announcement of the winner at the INTERTANKO Tanker Event in Dubai, 28-31 March. The short list can be viewed on the Challenge page of INTERTANKO’s website.

Dr. Simon Walmsley of WWF International met with the Committee to discuss furthering the relationship between INTERTANKO and WWF. This was a very positive meeting with the focus being on a Concordat bringing together the mutual aims and objectives of the two organisations. This covered matters such as environmental awareness, the enhancement of environmental management systems and the reduction of the risk of environmental pollution in sensitive sea areas.

The workshop session was on the practical problems associated with various types of treatment systems being developed and tested by the MARTOB project partners. Dr Ehsan Mesbahi of NewcastleUniversity and Joanne Ellis of SSPA Sweden gave a presentation on the results of the MARTOB project on ballast treatment systems. It was clear from the discussion that the current progress being made on treatment systems is still lagging behind expectations. Additionally, the Committee was concerned that the developers are working in isolation and avoiding some key questions regarding the installation, function and testing of the systems once on board.

Substantive matters regarding the ballast water issue in general were also raised. Strong concern was voiced as to the liability operators and crew using such equipment may face when port state control are dissatisfied with the ballast water quality. Following on from the policy discussion on the international Convention, the Committee is keen for INTERTANKO to iron out the current irregularities regarding violations and inspections within the text of the Convention during the debate at the IMO Diplomatic Conference in February.

Contact: Tim Wilkins