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Waste Disposal Facilities
The European Commision takes notice

MARPOL 73/78 was introduced in an attempt to achieve the complete elimination of intentional pollution of the marine environment by oil and other harmful substances and the minimisation of accidental discharge of such substances. Unfortunately, more than 25 years later one still hears of occasional pollution incidents that should never have occurred. One of the main reasons that have been attributed to such incidents is the major problem experienced by ships in disposing of their garbage, sludge, etc., at ports of call.

Although port reception facilities have vastly improved in the last years, a lot is still left to be desired. This was clear from articles recently published by Fairplay and Intertanko which dwelt on the problems experienced by the tanker “GREEN SPIRIT” in trying to dispose of her engine room sludge. Over a period of 19 days, during which she called at eight different ports around Northern Europe, she was unable to discharge the sludge due to lack of satisfactory reception facilities. She finally discharged her sludge to a barge in Rotterdam at a cost of USD 7,000.

The concern in some areas is that the lack of proper port reception facilities for pollutant waste results in ships getting rid of their waste in the sea. In an acknowledgement of this failing the European Commision has proposed legislation to direct ports to improve their facilities. If the EU’s draft Directive on Reception Facilities for Ship-generated Wastes and Cargo Residues is agreed upon, ports will be forced to develop and properly maintain systems to handle ship-generated waste and cargo residues. Ships will be obliged to dispose of all their waste when they call into a European port and will probably be expected to pay a mandatory fee in order to maintain the service. Each port will be required to have a waste reception and handling plan and ensure that vessels are not subject to undue delay. Pre-arrival dialogue between vessels and the port should ensure that the port is prepared to receive all the different types of waste listed by vessels on arrival at the port/berth. Ships will be subject to spot inspections and a ship found not to have disposed of all her waste will not be allowed to leave port until she has done so.

It is hoped that the draft proposal is implemented in a manner that facilitates the operation of ships calling at European ports.

Gard News is published quarterly by Assuranceforeningen Gard, Arendal Norway.