Prevention Of Air Pollution From Ships: The Irish Perspective

Author:Mr Niamh Loughran
Profession:Dillon Eustace
 
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1. Introduction

Directive 2005/33 which deals with sulphur content of marine

fuel demonstrates the increasing regulation regarding ship

emissions and more stringent control for ship owners within the

EU. Annex VI (Regulations for the Prevention of Air Pollution

from Ships) under the MARPOL Convention has been incorporated

into Irish law.

Annex VI limits sulphur oxide (SOx) emissions and prohibits

deliberate emissions of ozone-depleting substances and sets the

maximum sulphur content of fuel oil at 4.5% by mass (m/m).

Annex VI introduced the SOx Emission Control Area (SECA).

Currently only one SECA has been established in the Baltic Sea,

however the North Sea SECA is to be implemented by November

2007. The sulphur content of fuel oil used in a SECA must not

exceed 1.5% m/m.

2. Sea Pollution Act 1991

The Sea Pollution Act, 1991 (the "Act") as amended

now refers throughout to "substances subject to

control by Annex VI to the MARPOL Convention" thus

importing Annex VI into the existing legislative framework.

Notification is now required from the owner or master of any

ship where prescribed substances are loaded or unloaded may be

required and incidents involving such substances must be

officially reported. Ship masters have to keep records of

operations on board regarding these substances.

Ships may be surveyed, inspected or tested by ship-surveyors

or inspectors appointed under the Act and a certificate of

compliance will issue providing everything is in order. Once

this certificate issues no further changes can be made to the

ship's fittings, structure or equipment without official

consent, the exception being where there is replacement of

defective parts.

Inspectors are given wide-ranging powers under the Act, and

these include the right to board a ship at any time to inspect

all machinery, equipment and fittings and the right to inspect

and require production of any document. It is an offence to

obstruct or impede inspectors in the exercise of their duties

or to fail to comply with their requirements. Harbour-Masters

are also accorded similar powers.

If an inspector is satisfied that a ship's condition

does not comply with its compliance certificate (or equivalent

issued by another MARPOL state) or is unfit to be put to sea

without threatening the marine environment he can direct the

master to undertake all necessary repairs and/or modifications.

The inspector has power to detain any ship until such repairs

or modifications are undertaken.

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