New MARPOL Annex V requirements regarding the disposal of garbage from ships and fixed and floating platforms are due to enter into force on 1 January 2013.
The new regulations represent a major change as, other than for certain defined permitted discharges, they will prohibit the disposal of garbage at sea. Therefore, as from the beginning of next year, it will become common practice for ships to send their garbage to reception facilities ashore when disposing of ship-generated waste.
It is likely that shipboard garbage destined to be sent to a port waste reception facility will need to be segregated. The requirements for the port concerned should be sought and followed in this respect. Given that some ports may not be able to receive and process all types of waste, the garbage processing capability of the port should be checked prior to arrival.
Cleaning agents and additives used in washing down decks and holds may be discharged into the sea provided that they are not harmful to the marine environment. Products considered suitable for discharge are those which are not defined as a harmful substance by the criteria set out in MARPOL Annex III and do not contain any carcinogenic, mutagenic or reprotoxic components. In addition, ships will need to maintain records showing that any cleaning agent or additive used was not harmful to the marine environment. IMO recommends that the supplier provides a signed and dated statement to this effect, either as part of a Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) or as a stand-alone document.
It is important to note that ash residues from shipboard incinerators will be classified as operational waste. Ash is therefore deemed to be garbage and its disposal into the sea will not be permitted.
Discharge Criteria – Outside Special Areas
When ships are outside one of the MARPOL Annex V special areas they will be permitted to discharge:
- Food waste that has been comminuted or ground (ie able to pass through a screen or mesh with holes of no larger than 25mm) when as far as possible, but at least 3 nautical miles, from the nearest land and “en route” (defined by the regulations as being underway at sea on a course which will cause the discharge to be spread over as great an area of the sea as is reasonable and practicable).
- Food waste that has not been comminuted or ground when as far as possible, but at least 12 nautical miles, from the nearest land whilst en route.
- Cargo residues including wash water residues which cannot be unloaded using commonly available means and which are not harmful to the marine environment when as far as possible, but at least 12 nautical miles, from the nearest land whilst en route.
- Animal carcasses in the maximum possible depth of water en route provided the ship is at least 100 nautical miles from the nearest land. If animal carcasses are discharged into the sea they must be split or otherwise treated so that they sink immediately. If a ship cannot comply with this requirement due to a passage where the vessel will not sail more than 100 nautical miles from the nearest land, disposal of the carcasses will be permitted at least 12 nautical miles from the nearest land if the Master determines that retaining the carcasses will create a health and safety risk to the personnel and live animals on board during periods of high heat and humidity. It will also be necessary to note the circumstances in the Garbage Record Book. The regulations encourage Masters to provide copies of such entries to the vessel’s Flag State and to the Administration of the State where the ship commenced the voyage. Should the number of animal mortalities exceed the level normally expected due to, for example, the failure of a watering system or an outbreak of disease, an unusually large amount of animal carcasses will not be considered to be garbage and will therefore not be subject to the provisions MARPOL Annex V. Should such a situation arise, the Guidance on Managing Spoilt Cargoes prepared by the Joint London Convention/MEPC Working Group should be followed.
- Cleaning agents and additives contained in wash water from cargo holds, decks and external surfaces provided that such products are not harmful to the marine environment. If non-harmful wash water is to be discharged, no minimum distance from the nearest land is specified and there is no requirement for the vessel to be en route.
Discharge Criteria – Within Special Areas
The MARPOL special areas are the Baltic Sea, North Sea, Mediterranean, Black Sea, Red Sea, the Gulfs Area, Wider Caribbean Region and the Antarctic Area. However, due to a lack of shore reception facilities in the Black Sea and Red Sea, these regions will not be classified immediately as special areas for the discharge of garbage when the new regulations enter into force.
When ships are within a MARPOL Annex V special area the following discharges will be permitted:
- Food waste that has been comminuted or ground (ie able to pass through a screen or mesh with holes of no larger than 25mm) when as far as possible, but at least 12 nautical miles, from the nearest land or ice shelf whilst en route. However, in the Antarctic Special Area the discharge of avian (bird) products including poultry will not be permitted unless made sterile beforehand.
- Cargo residues and cleaning agents and additives contained in cargo hold wash water which are not harmful to the marine environment when as far as possible, but at least 12 nautical miles, from the nearest land or ice shelf whilst en route. Such an operation may only take place if the departure port and the destination port are situated within the same special area, that no suitable reception facilities are available at either port and that the ship will not proceed outside the special area when sailing between them.
- Cleaning agents and additives contained in deck and external surfaces wash water that are not harmful to the marine environment. The regulations do not specify a minimum distance from the nearest land or ice shelf or require the vessel to be en route.
Fixed and Floating Platforms
Fixed and floating offshore platforms engaged in the exploration, exploitation or associated offshore processing of sea-bed mineral resources, and ships when alongside or within 500 meters of such fixed or floating platforms, will only be permitted to discharge food waste that is comminuted or ground (ie able to pass through a screen or mesh with holes of no larger than 25mm) when located more than 12 nautical miles from the nearest land. No other discharges will be permitted from such platforms or from ships less than 500 meters away.
General Discharge Criteria
The disposal into the sea of all other types of garbage is prohibited, including the following:
- Cooking oil
- Incinerator ash
- Lining material
- Packing material
- Plastics, including plastic bags, synthetic ropes & ash residue as a result of incinerating plastics
If disposing of garbage at sea in accordance with MARPOL Annex V, it should be dispersed over the largest possible sea area and in the deepest water. Any currents or tidal streams should also be considered when planning such a discharge.
Where mixed garbage exists, the more stringent disposal criteria will always apply regardless of whether or not a ship is in a special area.
Some countries may have in place additional requirements concerning the treatment or processing of food and other waste before it is sent ashore for disposal, perhaps to limit the spread of disease. For example, the material may need to be double bagged. Similarly, there may be additional requirements regarding the incineration of specific products such as certain types of plastic. Permission from the port authority may also be required if the incinerator is to be used in port.
Solid Bulk Cargo Residues
To ensure that vessels are able to comply with the new requirements regarding the disposal of solid bulk cargo residues, IMO guidelines state that as from 1 January 2013, shippers should declare whether or not their cargo is classed as being harmful to the marine environment when providing the cargo information required by Section 4.2 of the International Maritime Solid Bulk Cargoes (IMSBC) Code.
Cargo material contained in cargo hold bilge water will not be treated as cargo residues if it is not harmful to the marine environment and the bilge water is discharged from a loaded hold through the ship's fixed piping bilge drainage system.
The requirement for a garbage management plan will apply to all ships of 100 GT and above, as opposed to 400 GT and upwards at present. All fixed and floating platforms will also be required to have a garbage management plan. The garbage management plan requirements for ships certified to carry 15 or more persons will not change.
The requirement for a garbage record book to be maintained by ships of 400 GT and above, ships certified to carry 15 person or more and fixed and floating platforms will remain the same.
Previously only ships of 12m or more in length overall were obliged to display placards advising crew and passengers of the MARPOL Annex V garbage discharge requirements. This will be extended to include fixed and floating platforms.
Ships will be exempt from the foregoing garbage disposal criteria if discharged to preserve the safety of the ship or the safety of life at sea. Also if garbage is lost overboard accidentally following damage to the ship or its equipment provided reasonable measures are taken to minimise the loss.
In addition, ships en route either within or outside a special area will be permitted to discharge food waste if retaining it on board will pose an imminent health risk to shipboard personnel.
Given that discharging garbage ashore will be the primary means of disposal in future, the new requirements provide for the expansion of reception facilities in special areas.
However, if a ship is navigating in a special area where the local ports have not been provided with adequate garbage reception facilities, the discharge criteria for ships sailing outside special areas will apply. The forthcoming requirements state:
Regulation 8 / 3.1
Each Party, the coastline of which borders a special area, undertakes to ensure that as soon as possible, in all ports and terminals within the special area, adequate reception facilities are provided, taking into account the needs of ships operating in these areas.
Regulation 8 / 3.2
Each Party concerned shall notify the Organisation of the measures taken pursuant to subparagraph 3.1 of this regulation. Upon receipt of sufficient notifications the Organisation shall establish a date from which the requirements of regulation 6 (discharge of garbage within special areas) of this Annex in respect of the area in question are to take effect. The Organisation shall notify all Parties of the date so established no less than twelve months in advance of that date. Until the date so established, ships that are navigating in a special area shall comply with the requirements of regulation 4 of this Annex as regards discharges outside special areas.
If a vessel finds that the waste reception facilities in a particular port are inadequate, the Master or the company may inform the Flag State by completing and submitting the form contained in MEPC.1/Circ.671 “Guide to Good Practice for Port Reception Facility Providers and Users”.
MARPOL Annex V Reference Material
Further information regarding the new requirements can be found in the following IMO documents:
Revised Text of MARPOL Annex V – Resolution MEPC.201(62)
2012 Guidelines for the Implementation of MARPOL Annex V – Resolution MEPC.219(63)
2012 Guidelines for the Development of Garbage Management Plans – Resolution MEPC.220(63)
Prevention of Pollution by Garbage from Ships: IMO guidance on MARPOL Annex V
Simplified Overview of the Discharge Provisions of the Revised MARPOL Annex V (Resolution MEPC.201(62)) which will Enter into Force on 1 January 2013. – Discharge provision table
Members are advised to review the full text of the revised MARPOL Annex V and should ensure their ships comply with the new requirements by 1 January 2013. For further information, please contact the Loss Prevention department.