MARPOL Annex V: Port Reception Facilities – Intercargo Warns of Potential Confusion and Enforcement Issues from 1 January 2013.

Intercargo, Pollution — By on December 24, 2012 at 2:40 PM

Intercargo, representing the interests of dry bulk shipowners and operators, has found a general lack of information and understanding concerning important changes to MARPOL Annex V for port reception facilities that enter into force on 1 January 2013.

The new requirements, which will place additional planning and reporting responsibilities on shippers and terminal operators, could also cause confusion, delays, contractual disagreements and possibly action by Port State Control authorities.  The lack of appropriate facilities to discharge dry cargo residues and hold washing water is generally acknowledged  but with few apparent additions to facilities, compliance of the regulations by the various stakeholders will be difficult.

Under current and revised SOLAS rules and in accordance with Section 4.2 of the International Maritime Solid Bulk Cargoes (IMSBC) Code, shippers must now declare on the ‘Cargo Declaration’ whether the commodity shipped is ‘Harmful to the Marine Environment’ (HME) or not.  If the cargo is HME, any cargo residues – the limited quantities of dry bulk materials left in the hold after unloading, including any cargo entrained in washing water, will be explicitly defined as garbage under MARPOL V.

Ian Harrison, Intercargo’s Technical Manager, points out that this is creating confusion with shippers and owners alike; “Many responsible owners will have seen the Intercargo Briefing Note on the changes but there is a possibility that shippers may not be aware of their responsibilities for declaring HME cargoes on the Shippers Declaration.” Shippers who are not fully up to speed on the new requirements are urged to seek assistance.”

Owners and masters need to be aware of the cargo classification in order to discharge cargo residues appropriately since the previously agreed exemption defined in MEPC.1/Circ. 675/Rev.1 for ‘Special Areas’ such as the Mediterranean, the Wider Caribbean Area and the Gulfs, due to their general inability to process Hold Washing Water (HWW), will no longer apply after 1 January 2013.

The discharge of cargo residues into the sea is permitted under defined conditions when outside ‘Special Areas’ and at a range greater than 12 miles from shore, andonly when the cargo is not classified as HME.

Owners and masters will have to rely on Section 6.1.2 of MARPOL V to permit discharge of residues and HWW in Special Areas in a limited range of circumstances – for example, the residue must not be deemed HME, the ship must be en route 12 nautical miles from land, there must be no adequate facilities at either discharge or next loading port and both ports are within the Special Area. Any residue that is HME must be discharged into a reception facility which should be provided at the receiving terminal.

Intercargo will release an updated version of its ‘Terminal Problem Reporting Form’ on 1 January 2013 to coincide with the regulatory changes.  Responses from all Bulk Carrier Masters will provide information about the provision of facilities and general compliance by all parties – including the Shippers, of compliance with the Amended MARPOL V regulations.

Further information on this topic is available on the ‘Port Reception Facilities’ area of the Intercargo website.


  1. Intercargo represents over 160 bulk carrier owners/operators (vessels engaged in the transport of dry bulk commodities such as coal, grain and iron ore) and associates. With Non-Governmental Organisation status at the International Maritime Organization (IMO), Intercargo’s objective is the creation of a “safe, efficient and environmentally friendly” dry cargo sector.
  2. Intercargo, founded in 1980, works within the Round Table of international maritime associations comprising of BIMCO, the International Chamber of Shipping, Intercargo and Intertanko.

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