MARPOL Annex II Revisions - update from MEPC 51

As reported in Weekly NEWS Issue 14 of 2 April, INTERTANKO conducted a chemical tonnage impact study taking into account the proposed revisions within MARPOL Annex II for pollution and ship type criteria, so that this issue could be discussed last week at the IMO’s Marine Environment Protection Committee’s 51st meeting (MEPC 51).

INTERTANKO submitted this study as a paper (MEPC 51/6) to IMO, and it was discussed last week at MEPC 51. After an extended debate within the plenary session on the subject of the study and some proposals by attending member states for further study to be undertaken by the IMO, it was eventually agreed by a large majority that no further study was needed and that the INTERTANKO study confirmed the previous information submitted by IPTA & CEFIC.

A proposal was made by some states that, assuming a specific shortage of tonnage to transport an identified vegetable oil, then regulation 2 (7) of the current text of MARPOL Annex II (regulation 4.1 of the revised text) would allow a mechanism by which an Administration could modify or delay (for a specific time period) the application of the revised requirements for the carriage of a specific vegetable oil cargo.

Some states noted that the application of this regulation/mechanism should not be used to permit tankers phased-out under MARPOL ANNEX 1 single-hull phase-out to transport vegetable oils, and that the invocation of this regulation should be restricted to IBC Code Type 3 ships meeting the dimensional requirements of IBC Type 2 ships with regards to double bottom and double side protection (760mm) to allow an alternative for the transport of vegetable oils under MARPOL Annex II. It was recognised that such an option would only be used where it was demonstrated that there was a shortage of tonnage available to transport an identified vegetable oil. It was on this basis that the MEPC 51 committee approved the ship types based on pollution criteria. However the USA, Philippines and Malaysia reserved their positions.

Other key points included:

IBC (International Bulk Chemical) Code draft changes.

The Committee reviewed the drafted text to the new IBC code and agreed that the changes to the IBC Code are amendments and will not be viewed as a new code.

The draft changes have been approved by this session and will be put forward for adoption as a pink paper at MEPC 52 in December 2004.

Chapter 19 - IBC Code.

The committee agreed that this chapter could be deleted from the revised IBC code as incineration of liquid chemicals waste at sea is no longer permitted

Ship typing for safety reasons.

The committee recognised that it is not always obvious whether the assigned ship type is for safety or pollution reasons in the current version of the IBC code and therefore agreed that in the revised version of the IBC code, if the revised ship type based on pollution criteria is higher than the existing one then the revised ship type will be assigned; or if lower than the existing one then the existing ship type will be assigned unless it can be demonstrated that the existing ship type is not for safety reasons.

N.O.S  entries.

The committee noted the decision of the ESPH group (Evaluation of Safety and Pollution Hazards Working Group) to delete two n.o.s entries (Not Otherwise Specified) and one specific entry regarding vegetable oils. The committee was informed that these entries (n.o.s) had been developed during the 1970s to assist industry but that some inappropriate products had been shipped under these entries, which if properly declared would have been pollution category B. The reason the ESPH group has deleted these entries is to ensure the revised IBC is robust enough. Some delegates expressed concern at this deletion as it was claimed it may cause some disruption to trade. The committee agreed therefore to address this issue at MEPC 52 in December 2004.

Next session of ESPH

The committee agreed that ESPH would meet between 30th August to 3rd September 2004

Next edition of the IBC code

The committee further agreed that the next edition of the IBC code would be in the form of a loose-leaf A4 file

Materials of Construction

IACS submitted a document setting out its concerns at the removal of column "m" (materials of construction) from chapter 17 of the revised IBC code. The IACS concern is that responsibility for ensuring that the cargo is compatible with the materials of construction has been placed on the shippers and ship operators. Accordingly IACS expressed its desire that column "m" be retained. While no conclusion was essentially drawn at this committee meeting, it was agreed that this was primarily a safety issue which should be passed to the Maritime Safety Committee (MSC) for its consideration.

For more information, contact Howard Snaith