News 13 Jan, 2011

Turkey - Environmental Pollution Fines - Updated

The Club continues to encounter instances of vessels being fined in Turkish waters for pollution by substances other than oil. Section 8 of the Turkish Environmental Code 1983 states (in part) that:

“It is prohibited, to introduce into, store in, transport to or remove from the receptor area any discharge or waste in such a way as to inflict damage on the environment or in a way directly or indirectly in contradiction with the standards and methods specified in the pertinent regulations, or to engage in similar activities”.

This provision is widely interpreted and rigorously enforced, to the extent that vessels have even been fined for pumping out clean ballast water. Ships at anchor off Istanbul are monitored particularly closely.

Fines are imposed in accordance with a published tariff, shown below, which is revised annually. The amount is determined by the size of the vessel and the type of pollutant, rather than the quantity.  In almost all cases the fine must be paid in cash.  The amount may be reduced by 25% if settled prior to the vessel sailing or within a maximum of 30 days. In exceptional circumstances the authorities may accept bankers’ drafts or financial guarantees, but this is unusual. The current exchange rate is approximately 1.50 Turkish Lira (TL) to the US$.

Turkish Environmental Pollution Fine Tariff, applicable from 1 January to 31 December 2011

Category A: Petroleum products and derivatives discharged by tankers

Up to 1,000 GT

56.96 TL / Ton

Between 1,001 and 5,000 GT

Additional 14.22 TL / Ton

Over 5,000 GT

Additional 1.38 TL / Ton

Category B: Dirty ballast discharged by tankers

Up to 1,000 GT

42.71 TL / Ton

Between 1,001 and 5,000 GT

Additional 8.52 TL / Ton

Over 5,000 GT

Additional 1.38 TL / Ton

Category C: Petroleum products, petroleum derivatives and dirty ballast water discharged by ships or other sea vessels

Up to 1,000 GT

28.47 TL / Ton

Between 1,001 and 5,000 GT

Additional 5.68 TL / Ton

Over 5,000 GT

Additional 1.38 TL / Ton

Category D: Garbage, sewage and grey water discharged by ships or other sea vessels

Up to 1,000 GT

14.22 TL / Ton

Between 1,001 and 5,000 GT

Additional 2.82 TL / Ton

Over 5,000 GT

Additional 0.56 TL / Ton

In the event of a vessel being fined and detained for an alleged pollution incident in Turkish waters, the local P&I correspondent should be contacted immediately for assistance. It is important to note that the authorities do not need to substantiate their allegations and it is up to the ship to prove otherwise, making pollution fines in Turkey very difficult to challenge.

A second or third offence in a three year period results in the fine being doubled or tripled respectively. In the case of dangerous goods, the fine is calculated by multiplying the applicable Category C rate by ten.

If a vessel is under repair in a Turkish shipyard or dry dock and pollution is caused by the negligence of the shipyard’s employees or agents, the ship may still be fined.

Shipowners may appeal to the Administrative Court within 30 days of a fine being notified.  However, the chances of a successful appeal are limited. Providing the authorities with evidence of best practice and comprehensive prevention measures will not mitigate a fine even if the vessel maintains that another ship was responsible.  In such cases photographic or video evidence taken at the time of the incident might help, but this is by no means certain.

The following recommendations are made to minimise the risk of pollution fines in Turkey:

  • As far as is safe and practicable, deballasting operations should be avoided. In any event only clean ballast water should be discharged.
  • Overboard discharge valves should be closed and sealed shut.
  • All scuppers on deck should be plugged and sealed, and any gaps in the fish plate surrounding the deck should be closed.
  • Hatch covers should not be hose tested.
  • The vessel’s decks and superstructure should not be washed.
  • Treated water from the sewage system should be transferred to a holding tank and should not be discharged until the vessel is clear of Turkish waters.
  • Grey water from sources such as the galley, laundry and showers should be retained on board in a similar manner.
  • Steps should be taken to prevent cargo residues, incinerator ash, garbage, cleaning agents and other substances that may be construed as being pollutants from reaching the water.
  • The vessel’s hull should not be scraped or painted while alongside or at anchor. 

If further information is required, please contact the Loss Prevention Department.