5th Session of IMO Sub-Committee on Pollution Prevention and Response (PPR)

By Lars Lange, IUMI Secretary General

The IMO Sub-Committee on PPR deals with all matters relating to pollution prevention and response. This ranges from all annexes of the MARPOL Convention through to the control and management of harmful aquatic organisms in ships' ballast water and sediments; biofouling; anti-fouling systems; pollution preparedness, response and cooperation for oil and hazardous and noxious substances; and the safe and environmentally sound recycling of ships. PPR 5 met from 5 – 9 February 2018.

One of the main outcomes of PPR5 was on implementing the 2020 sulphur limit: IMO has agreed to move forward with a prohibition on the carriage of fuel oil for use on board ships, when that fuel oil is not compliant with a new low sulphur limit. The aim of the new limit is to reduce sulphur oxide (SOx) emissions from ships to improve air quality and protect the environment. The 0.50% limit on sulphur in fuel oil on board ships (outside designated emission control areas or ECAs, where the limit is 0.10%) will come into effect on 1 January 2020. 

To help ensure consistent implementation of this regulation, IMO PPR agreed draft amendments to the MARPOL Convention on the prevention of pollution from ships (MARPOL Annex VI) to prohibit the carriage of non-compliant fuel oil. The sub-committee forwarded the proposed draft amendments to the Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC 72) meeting in April 2018, for urgent consideration. Once approved by the MEPC 72, the draft amendments could be adopted at the MEPC 73 (October 2018) and could enter into force on 1 March 2020 (just two months after the 0.50% limit comes into effect). To assist with consistent implementation, the sub-committee agreed to develop a single set of guidelines covering all relevant aspects.

Further topics considered and decided by PPR5 include:

  • An agreement on a reporting protocol and most appropriate measurement methods for so-called “Black Carbon”. Black Carbon is the product of incomplete combustion of carbon-based fuels. Black Carbon emissions from ships contribute to climate change.
  • Draft 2018 guidelines for the discharge of exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) bleed-off water, for submission to MEPC 73. One method for reducing NOX emissions when operating in a NOX emission control area is to use EGR, which is an internal engine process resulting in a NOX reduction.
  • Draft guidance on System Design Limitations of ballast water management systems and their monitoring, was agreed, for submission to MEPC 73 with a view to approval. 
  • 2018 guidelines for the application of MARPOL Annex I requirements to floating production, storage and offloading facilities (FPSOs) and floating storage units (FSUs), for submission to MEPC 73.
  • Draft Guidelines for the use of electronic record books under MARPOL, for submission to MEPC 73. The guidelines note that recording and reporting should be encouraged. The guidance aims to provide standardised information on approving an electronic record book to ensure the obligations of MARPOL are met.
  • A revision of the International Code for the Construction and Equipment of Ships carrying Dangerous Chemicals in Bulk (IBC Code). The revised chapters will be forwarded to MEPC 73 and to MSC 100. The comprehensive review of the IBC Code aims to harmonise the requirements for individual substances with the UN Globally Harmonised System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS) and the 2014 edition of the Revised Joint Group of Experts on the Scientific Aspects of Marine Environmental Protection (GESAMP) hazard evaluation procedure for chemical substances carried by ships.

A more comprehensive report on the outcome of the meeting prepared by IMO can be found here on the IMO webpage.