From: Andy Soos, ENN
Published June 28, 2011 02:04 PM

Nautical Air Emissions

In the United States, several federal agencies and laws have some jurisdiction over pollution from ships in U.S. waters. States and local government agencies also have responsibilities for ship-related pollution in some situations.The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) today announced an agreement to jointly enforce U.S. and international air pollution requirements for vessels operating in U.S. waters. The requirements establish limits on nitrogen oxides (NOx) emissions and require the use of fuel with lower sulfur content, protecting people’s health and the environment by reducing ozone-producing pollution, which can cause smog and aggravate asthma. The most stringent requirements apply to ships operating within 200 nautical miles of the coast of North America. International rules (MARPOL 73/78)have six Annexes of the Convention cover the various sources of pollution from ships and provide an overarching framework for international objectives. In the U.S., the Convention is implemented through the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships. Under the provisions of the Convention, the United States can take direct enforcement action under U.S. laws against foreign-flagged ships when pollution discharge incidents occur within U.S. jurisdiction. When incidents occur outside U.S. jurisdiction or jurisdiction cannot be determined, the United States refers cases to flag states, in accordance with MARPOL. These procedures require substantial coordination between the Coast Guard, the State Department, and other flag states.


"Today’s agreement forges a strong partnership between EPA and the U.S. Coast Guard, advancing our shared commitment to enforce air emissions standards for ships operating in U.S. waters," said Cynthia Giles, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. "Reducing harmful air pollution is a priority for EPA and by working with the Coast Guard we will ensure that the ships moving through our waters meet their environmental obligations, protecting our nation’s air quality and the health of our coastal communities."

The large marine diesel engines that provide propulsion and auxiliary power on many ocean-going vessels emit significant amounts of pollution. Without further action, EPA estimates that by 2030, NOx emissions from ships will more than double, growing to 2.1 million tons per year. The memorandum of understanding (MOU) signed by EPA and the USCG outlines the agencies’ commitment to jointly enforce federal and international laws that EPA projects could prevent 12,000-31,000 premature deaths annually by 2030. Under the MOU, both the USCG and EPA will perform inspections and investigations, and will take appropriate enforcement actions if a violation is detected.

A letter to industry was also signed today by USCG and EPA to provide the regulated community with notice that USCG and EPA will be taking measures to promote compliance with federal and international air pollution requirements and will be actively pursuing violations.

The International Maritime Organization (IMO) is a United Nations agency which deals with maritime safety, security and the prevention of marine pollution from ships across the globe. The International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL), developed through the IMO, is the main international convention covering prevention of pollution of the marine environment by ships.

MARPOL Annex VI addresses air pollution from ships through the use of both engine-based and fuel-based standards. Additionally, MARPOL Annex VI requires ships operated in designated geographical areas, known as emission control areas or ECAs, to meet the most advanced standards for NOx emissions and fuel sulfur limits. The United States became a party to MARPOL Annex VI in 2008 and the treaty is implemented in the United States through the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships (APPS).

Marpol contains 6 annexes, concerned with preventing different forms of marine pollution from ships:

Annex I - Oil
Annex II - Noxious Liquid Substances carried in Bulk
Annex III - Harmful Substances carried in Packaged Form
Annex IV - Sewage
Annex V - Garbage
Annex VI - Air Pollution

A State that becomes party to Marpol must accept Annex I and II. Annexes III-VI are voluntary annexes.

As of October 2009, 150 countries representing almost 99.14% of the world's tonnage had become party to Annexes I and II.

Annex III entered into force on 1 July 1992 and (as of October 2009) 133 countries representing over 95.76% of the world's tonnage had become party to it.

Annex IV entered into force on 27 September 2003 and (as of October 2009) 124 countries representing over 81.62% of the world's tonnage had become party to it.

Annex V entered into force on 31 December 1988 and (as of October 2009) 139 countries representing over 97.18% of the world's tonnage had become party to it.

Annex VI entered into force on 19 May 2005 and (as of October 2009) 56 countries representing over 46% of the world's tonnage had become party to it.

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