Japan - New OPRC-HNS Regulations

April 2008

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Image Courtesy of ITOPF
Image Courtesy of ITOPF

Parties to the International Convention on Oil Pollution Preparedness, Response and Co-operation 1990 (OPRC) are required to establish measures for dealing with pollution incidents, either nationally or in co-operation with other countries. A protocol to extend the Convention to apply to pollution incidents by hazardous and noxious substances (HNS) was adopted in 2000 and entered into force in certain countries, including the UK and Japan, on 14 June 2007 (OPRC-HNS).

Pursuant to the 2006 Japanese law relating to the Prevention of Marine Pollution and Maritime Disaster, with effect from 1 April 2008, tankers over 150 gt carrying liquid HNS products, including kerosene, naphtha, jet oil, gas oil and noxious substances, when sailing in certain specified areas in Japan (Tokyo Bay, Ise Bay, Seto Inland Sea including Osaka Bay) are required to have access to materials, equipment and experts necessary for the prevention/elimination of HNS spills. The Maritime Disaster Prevention Center (MDPC) can provide these and, in reality, in order to comply with the requirement under this law it is necessary for owners to pre-contract with MDPC.

The 2006 law is similar to that applying to tankers carrying persistent oil when calling at Japanese ports. Owners must pre-contract with MDPC in order to have access to the appropriate response equipment etc. MDPC is in effect acting as a spill response organisation. The latest MDPC contract has been reviewed by the International Group. Unfortunately, it does not conform with the Group’s guidelines for OSRO contracts.

As a temporary measure, and to allow time for discussions with MDPC, the International Group brokers have arranged additional insurance to cover the increased liability, details of which can be obtained from the Club Mangers.

For background information on OPRC-HNS see Chemical Spills - OPRC-HNS Protocol in Force June 2007