October 8, 2004

Busy session for IMO's MEPC

IMO's Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) ill next week consider revised regulations relating to prevention of pollution by oil and by noxious liquid substances carried in bulk. It is also expected to adopt a revised code for carriage of chemicals in bulk. Also on the agenda will be further work on ballast water and emissions.


Revised MARPOL Annex I (oil)

The revised MARPOL Annex I Regulations for the prevention of pollution by oil incorporate the various amendments adopted since MARPOL entered into force in 1983, including the amended regulation 13G and new regulation 13H on the phasing-in of double hull requirements for oil tankers. It also separates hardware from operational requirements in different chapters and makes clear the distinctions between requirements for new ships and for existing ships. The aim of the revision is to produce a user-friendly, simplified Annex I.

Revised MARPOL Annex II (noxious liquid substances carried in bulk)

The revised Annex II Regulations for the control of pollution by noxious liquid substances include a new four-category categorization system for noxious and liquid substances.

Transport of vegetable oils

The MEPC is also expected to adopt a resolution on Guidelines for the transport of vegetable oils in deep tanks or in independent tanks specially designed for the carriage of such vegetable oils on board dry cargo ships.

The guidelines have been developed to allow general dry cargo ships that are currently certified to carry vegetable oil in bulk to continue to carry these vegetable oils on specific trades.

Revised IBC Code

The revised and updated International Bulk Chemical Code (IBC Code), set for adoption at the session, reflects the changes to MARPOL Annex II.

Particularly Sensitive Sea Areas (PSSAs)

The MEPC will consider the designation of the Western European Waters as a new PSSA and the extension of the existing Great Barrier Reef PSSA to include the Torres Strait Region, following the consideration of Associated Protective Measures (APMs) linked to the two PSSAs by the Sub-Committee on Safety of Navigation (NAV 50), which met in July.

The MEPC will also consider proposals to amend the Guidelines for the Identification and Designation of Particularly Sensitive Sea Areas (contained in resolution A.927(22)) with a view to preparing amendments to strengthen and clarify the guidelines for future designation of PSSAs.

Harmful aquatic organisms in ballast water

At its last session, following the adoption in February this year of the International Convention for the Control and Management of Ships' Ballast Water and Sediments, the MEPC approved a programme for the development of 13 sets of guidelines, in preparation for implementation of the Convention, with priority given to the Guidelines for approval of ballast water management systems and the Procedure for approval of active substances.

The MEPC will consider the outcome of the work of the Third Intersessional Meeting of the MEPC Ballast Water Working Group which has been meeting ahead of the MEPC from 4 to 8 October and the outcome of the Working Group which will also meet during the session. It is expected that the Committee will approve, in principle, the two priority sets of Guidelines for further consideration and adoption at MEPC 53 in mid-2005.

Recycling of ships

The MEPC will consider issues relating to ship recycling, including the outcome of the work of a Correspondence Group which was established to work on implementation issues relating to the IMO guidelines on ship recycling, including development of a ship recycling plan for each ship to be recycled and criteria for ships to be declared "ready for recycling". It is anticipated that a working group on ship recycling will be established.

Air pollution

The MEPC is expected to consider the report of the correspondence group on greenhouse gas emissions from ships. The work included the consideration of a greenhouse gas emission baseline for international shipping and the assessment of methodologies to describe the greenhouse efficiency of a ship

Regulations for the Prevention of Air Pollution from Ships, contained in Annex VI of MARPOL, are set to enter into force on 19 May 2005

Oil and HNS Pollution Preparedness, Response and Co-operation

The MEPC will consider issues relating to implementation of the OPRC Convention and the OPRC-HNS Protocol.

The Oil Pollution Preparedness, Response and Co-operation (OPRC)/OPRC-HNS (Hazardous and Noxious Substances) Technical Group has been meeting from 4-8 October and will report to the MEPC on its work on a number of issues, including the development of an IMO Manual on Oil Spill Risk Evaluation and Assessment of Response Preparedness; contingency planning for and response to HNS incidents; and development of guidelines on facilitation of response to oil pollution and possible application to HNS incidents.

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