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March 25, 2004

Revised ship sewage regulations set for adoption at IMO meeting

Revised international regulations for the prevention of pollution of the oceans by sewage are set to be adopted by IMO's Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) when it meets March 29 to April 2, 2004.

Other items on the agenda include follow-up to the adoption of the new Ballast Water Convention, air pollution and ship recycling.

Amendments to MARPOL 73/78 - Annex IV The revised MARPOL Annex IV containing regulations for the prevention of pollution by sewage from ships was approved by the MEPC in 2000. It can now be formally adopted following the entry into force of the optional Annex in September 2003, with a proposed entry into force date of August 1, 2005.

Annex IV contains a set of regulations regarding discharge of sewage into the sea, ships' equipment and systems for the control of sewage discharge, provision of facilities at ports and terminals for the reception of sewage, and requirements for survey and certification. It includes a model International Sewage Pollution Prevention Certificate to be issued by national shipping administrations to ships under their jurisdiction.

The revised draft Annex will apply to new ships engaged in international voyages, of 400 gross tonnage and above or which are certified to carry more than 15 persons. Existing ships will be required to comply with the provisions of the revised Annex IV five years after the date of its entry into force. Once in force, the Annex will require ships to be equipped with either a sewage treatment plant or a sewage comminuting and disinfecting system or a sewage holding tank.

The discharge of sewage into the sea will be prohibited, except when the ship has in operation an approved sewage treatment plant; or is discharging comminuted and disinfected sewage using an approved system at a distance of more than three nautical miles from the nearest land; or is discharging sewage which is not comminuted or disinfected at a distance of more than 12 nautical miles from the nearest land.

Amendments to MARPOL 73/78- Annex V Proposed amendments to the Appendix to MARPOL Annex V on Prevention of pollution by garbage from ships are also set for adoption. The amendments relate to the recording of disposal of cargo residues in the Garbage Record Book.

Revised MARPOL Annex I and Annex II set for approval The MEPC is expected to approve the revised texts of MARPOL 73/78 Annex I and Annex II with a view to subsequent adoption at MEPC 52 in October 2004, with an expected entry into force date of 1 January 2007.

Both Annexes have been updated and include the amendments adopted in recent years.

Amendments to IBC code The MEPC will consider for approval proposed amendments to the International Bulk Chemical Code (IBC Code). The amendments revise and update the Code and reflect the changes to MARPOL Annex II, which are being proposed for approval and subsequent adoption at MEPC 52.

Transport of vegetable oils The MEPC will be invited to consider, with a view to adoption at MEPC 52, an MEPC 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, which are currently certified to carry vegetable oil in bulk, to continue to carry these vegetable oils on specific trades.

Ballast water management Following the adoption in February this year of the International Convention for the Control and Management of Ships' Ballast Water and Sediments, the MEPC will consider follow-up work, including preparation of a plan of action for the development of guidelines for implementation of the Convention.

The MEPC is expected to establish a working group to develop the guidelines.

Recycling of ships

The IMO Assembly, in November 2003, adopted resolution A.962(23) on IMO Guidelines on Ship Recycling. The Committee is expected to consider further work on the issue including:

  • 1. development of a harmonized format for the Ship Recycling Plan;
  • 2. development of further technical considerations to assist in developing a Ship Recycling Plan;
  • 3. review and further development of Appendices 1 to 3 of the Guidelines on Ship Recycling in light of experience gained in their application;
  • 4. development of detailed criteria for ships to be declared "Ready for Recycling"; and
  • 5. consideration of mechanisms to promote the implementation of the Guidelines on Ship Recycling such as a reporting system for ships destined for recycling.

The MEPC is expected to establish a working group on ship recycling.

Air pollution related issues The MEPC is expected to establish a working group on air pollution related issues in order to consider the development of an IMO Green House Gases (GHG) emission-indexing scheme and related issues, including the report of the intersessional correspondence group on greenhouse gases. Assembly resolution A.963(23) on IMO policies and practices related to the reduction of greenhouse emissions from ships invites the MEPC:

1 to consider methodological aspects related to the reporting of GHG emissions from ships engaged in international transport; 2 to develop a Work Plan with a Timetable; and 3 to keep this matter under review and to prepare consolidated statements of continuing IMO policies and practices related to the limitation or reduction of GHG emissions from international shipping.

Identification and protection of Particularly Sensitive Sea Areas The MEPC will be invited to consider proposals for the identification of three new Particularly Sensitive Sea Areas (PSSAs): the Baltic Sea area, except Russian waters; the Galapagos Archipelago (Ecuador); and the waters of the Canary Isles archipelago (Spain).

Meeting of the MEPC OPRC/OPRC-HNS Technical Group The MEPC OPRC/OPRC-HNS Technical Group will meet ahead of the MEPC, from Tuesday, 23 March to Friday, 26 March 2004.

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