P&I Club

Update Volume 2019/17 Discharge of wash water containing cargo residues

Published on 14 october 2019

As of January 1, 2013 amendments to Marpol Annex V include new responsibilities in relation to cargo classifications which also apply to cargo residues in wash water. We have been advised of a number of recent incidents where members were approached by local inspectors regarding Marpol compliance due to concerns about the cargo classification as well as cases where shipowners and shippers have disagreed about the correct classification.

We note in this regard that Marpol Annex V provides that in relation to the discharge of wash water and any non-recoverable cargo residues the following applies:

  • No discharge of cargo residues should occur less than 12 nautical miles from the nearest land or the nearest ice shelf.
  • No discharge of cargo residues should occur within the six Marpol defined Special areas. (Mediterranean, Gulf, Baltic Sea, North Sea, the Caribbean and the Antarctic). 
  • Limits are placed on the discharge of wash-water containing non-recoverable cargo residues outside these special areas and outside the 12 nautical mile zone. 

Accordingly, pursuant to Marpol, wash water containing cargo residues may only be discharged in the event that it is classified as non-Harmful to the Marine environment (non-HME) and is so described in the cargo declaration issued pursuant to the IMSBC-code (section 4.2). Any cargoes classified as HME may not under any circumstances be discharged as cargo residues in wash water but must be brought to a suitable facility for processing. We therefore recommend that any owners who expect to have cargo residues in wash water which they intend to discharge at sea, they pay particular attention to the requirements set out in Marpol and contact the shipper as soon as possible prior to receipt of the cargo and the IMSBC Shippers Declaration.

If there is any doubt about the HME classification of the cargo or the requirements of Marpol, we recommend that the shipper is asked to provide the full specification of the cargo and to  confirm the basis for the classification. Where necessary an expert should be consulted. We also draw your attention to the below link of the Marpol Overview of Annex V updated on 1 March 2018.
Simplified overview of the discharge provisions of the revised MARPOL Annex V

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