Sulphur and BWMS enforcement key at PPR5

Fine detail of some of the most important envrionmental regulations facing shipping will be under discussion at PPR5 Fine detail of some of the most important envrionmental regulations facing shipping will be under discussion at PPR5

The implementation and enforcement of sulphur and ballast water regulations are among important environmental issues to be discussed at the fifth meeting of IMO’s Pollution Prevention and Response (PPR) subcommittee in London this week.

The meeting, PPR5, will also consider submissions on topics as diverse as oil spill response, onboard gasification of waste, updates to the NOx code and the impact of black carbon on the Arctic. In his opening remarks Kitack Lim, secretary general, IMO, paid tribute to the ‘remarkably broad canvas’ covered by the subcommittee.

Among the most high-profile submissions to be considered is a call from multiple industry and environmental groups to ban the carriage of non-compliant fuel under the 2020 global sulphur cap. The measure is seen as a critical step in ensuring consistent compliance and the ‘level playing field’ sought by big ship owners.

Other submissions regarding the sulphur cap include two from tanker operator association Intertanko, highlighting the need to seek uniformity and clarity in fuel oil sample testing and verification. Unless clear guidance is provided, the lack of harmony in verifying non-compliance of fuel oils would create costly and unnecessary disputes, the submissions conclude.

Having entered force last year, the IMO’s Ballast Water Management (BWM) Convention continues to be a source of discussion. Key topics at PPR will aim to move member states towards agreement on the standardisation of sampling by port state control, as well as contingency measures for compliance in ports with challenging water conditions. Also on the agenda will be the finalisation of the last remaining details of the new G8 guidelines on type approval certification – notably consensus on the parameters that should be considered as ‘system design limitations’ for inclusion in a new guidance document for ship owners selecting treatments.

Protection of the Arctic environment will be the subject of at least two submissions. One discussion will identify scope work needed following support for a paper – presented to the Marine Environment Protection committee last year – suggesting measures to ‘reduce risk of use and carriage of heavy fuel oil by ships in Arctic waters’. A related topic will continue IMO’s assessment of the impact of black carbon emissions from shipping on the Arctic environment, as part of which the Canadian delegation has submitted an update to a 2012 report on black carbon abatement measures.

Oil pollution prevention will feature high on the agenda. One item under consideration is the final draft of part IV of guidelines for the use of dispersants for combating oil pollution at sea. The guidelines - part of the International Convention on Oil Pollution Preparedness, Response and Co-operation (OPRC) - specifically focus on the sub-sea application of dispersant during an offshore oil discharge. The revision and was initiated in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon incident, to reflect the latest developments in response.

A proposed update to the NOx Technical Code would have a significant impact on the cost of certifying compliance. The International Association of Classification has submitted a paper that amends the code’s text to make two certification schemes equivalent. Testing of the combined NOx abatement and engine would no longer be the preferred option, with the considerably more practical route of class-approved pre-certification (not involving combined tests) accepted equally.

A submission from the European Union will aim to extend control of substances used in anti-fouling systems to cybutryne – a common ingredient in hull coatings - citing extensive research that suggests its potential to harm marine wildlife.

The Motorship will report on outcomes from the meeting in its March print issue.

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