It has only been three weeks since the new ultra low sulphur regulations have come in to force in North America and Northern Europe, and already it is becoming clear that these rules will have teeth and that enforcement will be rigorous, P&I Club Skuld warns.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) of the United States has now issued a detailed set of guidelines for setting of penalties, should a vessel fail to comply with the new regulations that mandate a maximum of 0.10% sulphur content in fuel for designated Emission Control Areas (ECAs).
According to the EPA guidelines, civil penalties may amount to USD 25,000 per violation per day; penalties are not limited to sulphur content violations; and penalties are designed to deter future violations, that means they are likely to be larger the more aggravated the offence was found to be.
Skuld warned its members of the very stringent approach to environmental violations taken by both the EPA and the USCG – which could lead to both criminal and civil sanction for an offence.
An additional, and very serious offence, is the giving of false information to a federal officer, a felony offence punishable by up to five years in prison, Skuld says.
According to the Danish Ministry of the Environment, new EU rules will see member states be required to check on 10% of vessels calling in relevant member state ports per year, specifically reviewing logs and bunker delivery notes.
The new rules would then advance as of January 1, 2016, with testing to be done of the fuel used on-board for at least 40% of the vessels of the 10% that are inspected by member states in or fully bordering an ECA.
There will also be testing, but at a lower percentage, of the vessels in member states partly bordering ECAs, and even in member states not bordering any ECA.
While the official EU regulation in this regard has not yet been published, these rules will see hundreds of ships being subjected to inspection during the course of this year and many more in the year thereafter, Skuld says.
As such there should be no doubt as to very serious and committed approach that will be taken towards enforcing the new MARPOL Annex VI limits. Skuld has therefore advised its members to keenly follow further developments and to ensure that their vessels do in fact comply with the new regulations.