MARPOL and SOLAS amendments enter into force

01 Jul 2010
IMO's London headquarters

IMO's London headquarters

IMO has reminded ship operators that today (1 July) new and more stringent regulations to reduce harmful emissions from ships, and enhanced safety regulations for passenger ships, come into force.

The MARPOL amendments are, according to IMO, expected to have a significant beneficial impact on the atmospheric environment and on human health, particularly that of people living in port cities and coastal communities.

The revised Annex VI (Regulations for the Prevention of Air Pollution from Ships) of the MARPOL convention enters into force globally, together with important reductions in SOx emissions in specific areas. The main changes will see a progressive reduction of SOx emissions from ships. The revised Annex VI allows for Emission Control Areas (ECAs) to be designated for SOx and particulate matter, or NOx, or all three types of emissions from ships.

The limits applicable in sulphur ECAs are reduced to 1.00%, beginning on 1 July 2010 (from the current 1.50%); being further reduced to 0.10%, effective from 1 January 2015. This means that ships trading in the current ECAs will have to burn fuel of lower sulphur content (or use an alternative method to reduce emissions) from 1 July 2010.

The revised Annex lists two ECAs for the control of SOx, and particulate matter: the Baltic Sea area and the North Sea, which includes the English Channel.

A new North American ECA, for SOx, nitrogen oxide (NOx) and particulate matter was adopted by IMO in March 2010; the regulations to implement this ECA are expected to enter into force in August 2011, with the ECA becoming effective from August 2012.

Meanwhile, IMO has been addressing the reduction of greenhouse gases (GHGs) from ships, as part of IMO’s contribution to the worldwide efforts to stem climate change and global warming and good progress has already been made on related technical and operational measures, with further work being undertaken on market-based measures.

A comprehensive package of amendments to the international regulations affecting new passenger ships places increased emphasis on reducing the chance of accidents occurring and on improved survivability, embracing the concept of the ship as ‘its own best lifeboat’.

The amendments to the SOLAS Convention include new concepts such as the incorporation of design criteria for the casualty threshold (the amount of damage a ship is able to withstand, according to the design basis, and still safely return to port). The amendments also provide regulatory flexibility so that ship designers can meet future safety challenges.

The amendments, which largely affect new ships built from 1 July 2010, include:

  • alternative designs and arrangements;
  • provision of safe areas and the essential systems to be maintained while a ship proceeds to port after a casualty, which will require redundancy of propulsion and other essential systems;
  • on-board safety centres, from where safety systems can be controlled, operated and monitored;
  • fixed fire detection and alarm systems, including requirements for fire detectors and manually operated call points to be capable of being remotely and individually identified;
  • fire prevention, including amendments aimed at enhancing the fire safety of atriums, the means of escape in case of fire and ventilation systems; and
  • time for orderly evacuation and abandonment, including requirements for the essential systems that must remain operational in case any one main vertical zone is unserviceable due to fire.·

Other important SOLAS amendments entering into force on 1 July 2010 include the following:

  • Amendments to the SOLAS Convention and to the 1988 Load Lines Protocol
  • Amendments to SOLAS Chapter II-2 - Fire protection
  • Amendments to SOLAS Chapter III - Life-saving appliances and arrangements
  • Amendments to SOLAS Chapter IV - Radiocommunications
  • Amendments to SOLAS Chapter V - Safety of navigation

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