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Environmental awareness & ways to mitigate pollution by ships

There is a growing quantity of increasingly demanding environmental legislation relevant to shipping. All ships' officers and crew must comply with these requirements and need to be aware of environmental issues. Every effort is to be made to conserve and protect the environment from marine, atmospheric and other forms of pollution, including office-based waste. In the marine environment the following types and sources of possible environmental pollution are recognised:

containerships operational matters
Oil Tanker Safety Guide

  • Dangerous goods. Including cargoes carried in bulk and packaged form as well as other packaged and containerised goods that may be hazardous to the environment if spilled or lost.

  • Garbage, including bio and non-biodegradable waste.

  • Sewage : To avoid pollution by sewage, the vessel’s sewage facilities must be in good operational condition and in compliance with the relevant MARPOL regulations. The Company is to be advised if the sewage system is inoperable. A survey of the equipment is to be carried out at intervals not exceeding five years.

    Ballast water discharging

    The USCG requires that the sewage system is approved by the relevant authority and that the vessel has on board a valid International Sewage Pollution Prevention Certificate. Reference is to be made to Annex IV of MARPOL for further information. Vessels calling US West Coast must also be aware of the “No-Discharge Zone” that is enforced by the Californian EPA

  • Ballast water. This includes the possibility of aquatic organisms or water-borne pathogens being transported in ships’ water ballast.

  • Anti-fouling paints and their effect on shellfish and other aquatic life .
    It has been proved that certain types of anti-fouling paints that include Tri-butylin (TBT) compounds can create adverse impacts on both the marine environment as well as indirectly on human health. These paints slowly leach out Organotin compounds which were found to be harmful to mollusks, crustaceans and fish. Modern vessels using anti-fouling systems now do not have Organotin (TBT) based paint and hence leaching of harmful compounds in water cannot take place.

  • Cargo vapour emissions including their toxic effect on health, climate and plant life.

  • Exhaust emissions, including gases and unburnt hydrocarbon particles and their contribution to smog, acid rain and the greenhouse effect.

  • Ozone depleting substances, including CFCs and halon gases and their effect on global warming

  • Noise levels from machinery and its effect on ships’ crews as well as on local populations.

  • Office generated waste, including waste paper, special waste and other consumables.

  • A case in the United States of America in which criminal charges were made against a major ship management company has highlighted the need for total compliance and solid record keeping. The case involved violations regarding the operation of the Oily Water Separator (OWS) and inaccurate/wrong entries in the Oil Record Book. The fact that such violations can occur outside USA waters is of no interest to the USA authorities and they will take legal action regardless.

    Any form of illegal discharge is purely an allegation and needs substantiated before further action is taken by the port state authorities.On environmental issue following are some basic check items to ensure no illegal discharge took place :
    1. The operational condition of the 15 PPM alarm monitor
    2. That each flange of the from the Oily Water separator discharge is sealed up to the overboard valve.
    3. That same seal number has been recorded.
    4. That the Oil Water Separator is in order and free from defects with all prescribes up to date.
    In a recent case study a cargo vessel has been cited for causing pollution off the French Coast after being overflown by a spotter aircraft. The vessel had been discharging through the OWS immediately prior to the overflight and reports it was in full compliance with MARPOL. The French coast is a particularly sensitive area at present and overflights take place on a regular basis. Fines are substantial and the legal process can involve the Seniors Officers being detained in France for a considerable period. To avoid doubt, vessels in transit must avoid any form of discharge when off the French coast, regardless of distance, even if in compliance with MARPOL. Vessels on coastal voyages in this area must endeavour to discharge slops ashore.

    France is highlighted here, however in all parts of the world, countries are becoming increasingly more vigilant in searching for vessels that pollute their coasts. Before commencing a discharge in any location, even when in compliance with MARPOL the risks must be carefully considered and if a less risky alternative can be found, then this is the route that is to be taken.

    Recommendation: If you have any concerns regarding the condition of the OWS onboard your vessel please inform your management ashore.

    The Company may send information in the form of Bulletin or posters on environmental issues. Masters are encouraged to disseminate this information amongst officers and crew and display posters as appropriate in order to increase environmental awareness onboard.

    Notes on environmental issue :
    Related articles

    Health hazards of using Asbestos and countermeasures

    How to mitigate greenhouse gases and protect marine environment

    Notes on Oily Water Separators / Oil Record Books

    Pollution by other harmful substances & harmful packaged goods

    Pollution by garbage [ Marpol annex V ]

    Pollution by sewage [ Marpol annex IV ]

    Pollution of air [ Marpol annex VI ]

    Prohibition on use of harmful (TBT) anti-fouling paints

    Pollution by ballast water

    Prevention of pollution while carryiung out overboard maintenance

    Environment friendly purchasing

    Decommissioning / ship recycling

    Worldwide ship recycling industry

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