Circular No. 1/2008
 
April 2008
 
To: Owners of tankers carrying liquid HNS products to Japan

  
Dear Sirs,
 
 
Japan - International Convention on Oil Pollution Preparedness, Response and Co-operation 1990 Hazardous and Noxious Substances (OPRC-HNS) - Regulations which came into effect on 1 April 2008
 
With effect from 1 April 2008 tankers over 150 gt carrying liquid HNS products, e.g. kerosene, naphtha, jet oil, gas oil and noxious substances, when sailing in certain specified areas in Japan, (Tokyo Bay, Ise Bay, Seto Inland Sea including Osaka Bay) are required to have access to materials, equipment and experts necessary for the prevention/elimination of HNS spills. The owners can fulfill these requirements by pre-contracting with the Maritime Disaster Prevention Centre (MDPC) in Japan. However, certain fees to be paid to MDPC must arrive three banking days prior to a vessel's arrival. The MPDC contract does not fully comply with International Group guidelines for such contracts. A fuller explanation of the regulations follows:
 
OPRC-HNS
Under the International Convention on Oil Pollution Preparedness, Response and Co-operation 1990 (OPRC), parties to the OPRC are required to establish measures for dealing with pollution incidents, either nationally or in co-operation with other countries.  A Protocol to extend the convention to apply to pollution incidents by hazardous and noxious substances (HNS) was adopted in 2000 and entered into force in certain countries including Japan on 14 June 2007 (OPRC-HNS).
 
The definition of HNS under the OPRC-HNS Protocol is wider than that given under the 1996 HNS Convention and is "any substance other than oil" which, if introduced into the marine environment, is likely to create hazards to human health, to harm living resources and marine life, to damage amenities or to interfere with other legitimate uses of the sea. States which are party to the OPRC-HNS Protocol are required to establish a national system for responding to HNS, including a designated national authority, a national operational contact point and a national contingency plan, which includes having in place a minimum level of response equipment, communications plans, regular training and exercises.
 
As a consequence operators of ships, ports and facilities handling HNS will be required to have emergency plans for dealing with an HNS incident. For some countries as regards shipowners, this requirement is fulfilled by having on board the Shipboard Marine Pollution Emergency Plan (SMPEP) as required under MARPOL for ships carrying oil and noxious liquid substances. Japan is a party to the OPRC-HNS. Under Japanese law this is insufficient for ships trading in certain areas and owners are required to pre-contract with a spill response organisation.
 
OPRC-HNS in Japan
In Japan the requirements of MARPOL 73/78 are implemented by virtue of the Law relating to the prevention of maritime pollution and maritime disaster 1970. In 2006 this law was amended in order to prepare for the coming into force of the OPRC-HNS 2000 Protocol.  Part of the new law came into force on 1 April 2007 and part came into force on 1 April 2008.  It is this latter part that will affect shipowners.  For the most part the requirements of the Protocol are fulfilled by having on board a SMPEP.  However, special rules apply to vessels sailing in certain areas.
 
Special Rules applicable from 1 April 2008 for vessels sailing in specified areas in Japan
 
A description of the new requirements is published by the Maritime Disaster Prevention Centre (MDPC) and can be found on the MDPC website (http://www.mdpc.or.jp/) [pamphlet]. Pursuant to the 2006 Japanese law relating to the Prevention of Marine Pollution and Maritime Disaster, as from 1 April 2008, tankers over 150 gt carrying liquid HNS products, when sailing in certain specified areas in Japan (Tokyo Bay, Ise Bay, Seto Inland Sea including Osaka Bay) are required to have access to materials, equipment and experts necessary for the prevention/elimination of HNS spills.  MDPC can provide these and in reality in order to comply with the requirements under this law, it is necessary for owners to pre-contract with MDPC.  The relevant MDPC contract can be found on the MDPC website (http://www.mdpc.or.jp/) [covenant].
 
The 2006 law is similar to that applying to tankers carrying persistent oil when calling at Japanese ports.  Owners must pre-contract with MDPC in order to have access to the appropriate response equipment etc. MDPC is in effect acting as a spill response organisation. The International Group of P&I Clubs has drawn up guidelines for contracts with spill response organisations. The Clubs review these contracts to ascertain whether the liabilities incurred under the contract prejudice Club cover. Unfortunately the MDPC HNS contract does not conform with the Group's guidelines particularly in relation to the responsibility clause.  This could prejudice Club cover. 
 
As a temporary measure, and to allow time for discussions with MDPC, the International Group brokers have arranged additional insurance to cover the increased liability, details of which can be obtained from the Association.
 
If you have questions relating to the new regulations please contact:
Arne Sætra/Christopher Mackrill (Gard AS) Tel: +47 37 01 91 00
 
 
Yours faithfully

GARD AS
As agent only for Assuranceforeningen Gard -gjensidig-
 

Claes Isacson
Chief Executive Officer