Pollution Prevention Measures

The matrix of conventions described earlier provide for the construction, operation and state monitoring of ships and tankers with respect to the prevention of pollution.

In general terms MARPOL provides for the following pollution prevention measures:


Ships are constructed to maximise safety and environmental protection using double hulls and protective segregated ballast tanks.
Each ship must carry certificates which certify that the ship is properly constructed and has adequate safety measures in place. The exact requirements of the certificates, which are reviewed annually, can be found in the Annexes, Protocols and Codes aligned to the MARPOL Convention.
The ships must carry certificates relating to their operations as follows:
  • International Oil Pollution Prevention Certificate (Ship Construction Certificate or IOPP Certificate)
  • International Pollution Prevention Certificate for the Carriage of Noxious Liquid Substances in Bulk (Chemical Tanker Construction Certificates or IPP Certificate)
  • International Sewage Pollution Prevention Certificates (SPP Certificate)
  • Shipboard Waste Management Plans (Garbage Management Plan)
  • International Air Pollution Prevention Certificate (APP Certificate)
 Australian ships which are damaged or altered to an extent that affects compliance with a Certificate must file a Notice of Alteration or Damage to an Australian Ship with AMSA. A copy of this form can be found in the Appendixes to Marine Orders Parts 91 and 93. They must also notify the nearest marine authority when not in Australian waters.
Oil and chemical tankers built after the mid 1980’s must have double hulls with segregated ballast tanks, tank washing facilities and discharge monitoring systems to protect the environment.
Ships with double hulls have a second internal hull which separates the cargo carrying compartments from the sea with a layer of tanks for the carriage of ballast water or cargo that is not oil or noxious liquids.
Segregated ballast tanks are tanks which are permanently allocated to the carriage of ballast and are completely separate from the cargo and fuel system.
By 2005 all tankers were to have protective segregated ballast tanks in locations that protect the entire length of the cargo tanks, which is an added safety factor in the event of collision or grounding.
By 2010 ships without protective segregated ballast tanks will be refused entry to Australian waters.

Port Facilities

To encourage operators of vessels to meet their obligations under MARPOL all ports must have reasonably priced reception facilities for the discharge of oil, chemicals, harmful substances, sewage, garbage and ballast water.

Safe Operation and Safety Management Systems

All ships must have ISM Code Safety Management Certificates (International Safety Management Code for the Safe Operation of Ships and Pollution Prevention) issued as part of the SOLAS Convention.

Safety management certificates include emergency pollution control plans detailing how the ship will manage a pollution event. An example is a Shipboard Oil Pollution Emergency Plan (SOPEP) which is mandatory for all ships.

Emergency plans must detail the shipboard organisation to deal with pollution, including deployment of equipment, structure of the response team, official reports, duties of the officers and crew and shipboard drills.


Ships Standing Orders for Pollution

Every ship should have standing orders and detailed plans to deal with operational and emergency discharges of pollution. These include:

  •  Oil and chemical discharges
  •  Garbage Management Plans
  •  Sewage treatment and discharges
  •  Packaging, labelling and storage of hazardous goods
  •  Air pollution measures.
Most of these measures will be supervised by the engineering or catering departments.
If you see an oil leak, disposal of garbage or discharge of sewage that does not seem to be right (especially any discharges in harbours or coastal waters) you should report the incident to your supervisor.

Port State Control

AMSA and NSW Maritime have the authority to inspect and detain ships which fail to meet their safety or pollution prevention requirements or pose a threat to the environment.
Under the international conventions ships may be detained until these requirements are met.

Inspections may include;

· Watchkeeping arrangements and competency

· Communications

· Certification and documentation

· Life Saving Equipment

· Accommodation

· Pollution prevention

· Seaworthiness and overloading

· Safety Management

Where a pollution event has been reported AMSA may board any suspected vessel to collect samples as evidence for any future prosecution.

Any person who witnessed a pollution event may make a confidential report to AMSA or NSW Maritime.

State Pollution Plans

All coastal states have organisations and emergency resources to deal with ship pollution. In Australia AMSA Coordinates the National Plan to Combat Oil Pollution (the National Plan)

The National Plan provides personnel and equipment to deal with a pollution event in Australian waters.

All levels of government, industry and defence can be involved depending on the level of environmental threat and equipment and tugs are on permanent standby. AMSA has significant powers to order ships, aircraft to become involved or to stand clear as required.

For example the Environment Protection Branch of NSW Maritime keeps emergency response teams and equipment in place to deal with a major pollution incident in the Ports under their control as apart of the national strategy.
Record Books

Ships must carry the following records, which must be retained for 3 years;

· Oil Record Books

· Cargo Record Books

· Garbage Record BooksReporting spills

All ships must report accidental discharges of pollutants, or discharges in excess of the allowable amount, to the nearest coastal state by the fastest available means. The use of the code words “POLREP” meaning “Pollution Report” will alert the authorities that action will be required to minimise the environmental effects of the discharge.

POLREPs are aimed mainly at Oil, Noxious Liquid substances and Harmful substances in Packed Form and contain the following minimum information in a standard format:

· identity of the ships involved

· time, type and location of incident

· quantity and type of harmful substance

· assistance and salvage measures required.

Reports must be made by the quickest available means, as the timeliness of the report is critical for the marshalling of resources needed to contain a spill (It is a lot easier to recover oil trapped inside an oil control boom rather than scrape it off rocks and beaches).

The way you report a spill will depend on where you are. In Australia the report is to be made to the Rescue Coordination Centre (RCC) Canberra by POLREP (a Harmful Substances Report) by satellite communications.

Vessels in a large port or harbour with a Port Authority should first report any spill on the on the Port Operations Channel on the VHF radio, as this is the quickest way to alert the authorities.

Vessels in remote harbours or at sea should send a POLREP form by satellite communications, radio, fax or email to the national Rescue Coordination Centre in Canberra. The alternative is to contact NSW Maritime or RCC by phone.

All vessels should carry a copy of a State or Federal POLREP Form in their Safety Management System.

· AMSA POLREPs can be found at the AMSA website, in Marine Orders Parts 91 and 93.

· NSW POLREPs can be found at Schedule 1 of the Marine Pollution Regulations (NSW) 2006.

On receipt of the POLREP the RCC will activate the National Plan to Combat Oil Pollution at Sea.