MEPC 80 sends discussion on EGCS discharge issues to PPR 11

MEPC 80 sends discussion on EGCS discharge issues to PPR 11

IBIA made a statement stressing the need for decisions to be made on sound science during a truncated discussion Exhaust Gas Cleaning Systems (EGCS) at the 80th session of the Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC 80).

Three documents were submitted to MEPC 80 on the subject: MEPC 80/5/5 (Austria et al.) proposing draft amendments to MARPOL Annex VI for regulating “discharge water” from EGCS; MEPC 80/5/6 (Japan) expressing concerns that the proposed amendments may be interpretated as regulating “discharge water” without carrying out appropriate risk and impact assessments, and MEPC 80/5/7 (Japan), providing legal comments on document MEPC 80/5/5 and proposing alternative draft amendments to MARPOL Annex VI.

After a brief introduction of the documents, the Chair immediately suggested that – given the very technical nature of these documents – they should be sent to the next meeting of the Sub-Committee on Pollution Prevention and Response, PPR 11, which is scheduled to meet in February 2024.

Nevertheless, several delegations made comments on the three proposals.

Several delegations expressed concerns about the proposed amendments to MARPOL Annex VI, feeling they were premature given the remaining uncertainty regarding the impact of discharge water from EGCS on the marine environment, and stressed that experience should be built first on the implementation of the 2022 Guidelines for risk and impact assessments of the discharge water from exhaust gas cleaning systems (MEPC.1/Circ.899).

IBIA thanked the submitters of the three documents, and said:

“We support the concerns raised by Japan regarding document MEPC 80/5/5 and would like to reiterate some of the key points;

  • Under normal circumstance countries are not required to specifically regulate discharge water beyond the controls already defined in the EGCS Guidelines.
  • Any restrictions on exhaust gas discharge water should be preceded by an impact assessment based on sound science and IMO recognised methods, modelling, analysis and be driven by the evidence.

We concur with Paragraph 15 in MEPC 80/7/6 by Japan that we do not intend to deny the need for regulation of EGCS discharges, if the results of assessment show unacceptable risks or impacts but it must be based on sound science and take into account background sea-area conditions and current on-going contributions of pollutants from other sources.”

MEPC 80 agreed to refer documents MEPC 80/5/5, MEPC 80/5/6 and MEPC 80/5/7 to PPR 11, and instructed the Sub-Committee to consider them in conjunction with other documents on the subject previously submitted to MEPC 78 and MEPC 79. 

PPR 11 will be invited to have a thorough discussion on all these documents on the subject of EGCS discharge water, with a view to advising MEPC. Further documents may also be submitted to PPR 11.

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