IMO to act on PIBs

24 Oct 2013

MEPC is expected to approve a PIB discharge ban when it meets next year

IMO’s Working Group on the Evaluation of Safety and Pollution Hazards of Chemicals (ESPH 19), meeting at IMO Headquarters from 21 to 25 October, has agreed to classify high-viscosity PIB (Polyisobutylene) as category X for carriage by ship.

This means that discharge of PIB residues into the sea will not be permitted.

The categorization and carriage requirements for high-viscosity PIB will be included in the annual MEPC.2/Circular on the Provisional categorization of liquid substances, usually issued by IMO on 17 December each year and will be proposed for inclusion in the next edition of the International Code for the Construction and Equipment of Ships carrying Dangerous Chemicals in Bulk (IBC Code) which lists chemicals and their hazards and gives both the ship type required to carry that product as well as the environmental hazard rating.

PIB (Polyisobutylene) is a butyl rubber material, which has several uses including fuel additives to keep sludge, soot, oxidation products and the like from forming deposits in engines and fuel systems which can reduce power output, increase fuel consumption and raise levels of noxious exhaust emissions. PIB-based chemicals, as well as being carried as cargo, are often used on ships as a fuel additive to maintain engine efficiency and cut emissions.

The likely implementation date for the PIB ban is 1 July 2016, if the approval and ratification process through the various IMO committees runs according to schedule.

Category X under Marpol Annex II comprises noxious liquid substances which, if discharged into the sea from tank cleaning or deballasting operations, are deemed to present a major hazard to either marine resources or human health and. Tanks used for Category X substances must, according to IMO, be prewashed before the ship leaves the port of unloading, and resulting residues must be discharged to a reception facility until the concentration of the substance in the effluent is at or below 0.1% by weight.

Previously, PIB was classified as category Y, i.e. a hazardous substance but one of which limited amounts could be discharged at sea, but there was no differentiation between high or low viscosity grades. Low-viscosity PIB will remain as a category Y product.

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