Maritime Compliance: Use of Exhaust Gas Cleaning Systems in Australian waters

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(www.MaritimeCyprus.com) The use of an Exhaust Gas Cleaning System (EGCS) is permitted in Australian waters as an option to comply with the low sulphur fuel requirements of MARPOL Annex VI, provided it is approved by the vessel’s Flag State Administration, or a recognised organisation (RO) appointed by the Flag State. The EGCS must also be operated in accordance with International Maritime Organization (IMO) requirements, including the 2021 Guidelines for Exhaust Gas Cleaning Systems (resolution MEPC.340(77)).

Crew members must be properly trained in the use of the EGCS and the system must be kept in good working order, with maintenance up-to-date and monitoring devices fully operational. The EGCS approval documents as well as operational and maintenance records for the EGCS must be maintained on board the vessel and made available for inspection upon Port State Control Officer (PSCO) request.

Prior to being discharged into Australian waters, EGCS wash water must comply with discharge water quality criteria set out in the 2021 EGCS Guidelines. While there are no prohibitions on the discharge of wash water from EGCS in Australian waters, some port Authorities may encourage vessels to avoid discharging wash water within port limits.

EGCS malfunctions

If there is an EGCS malfunction (Refer to resolution MEPC.1/Circ.883/Rev.1), action must be taken as soon as possible to identify and remedy the malfunction. Any EGCS malfunction that lasts more than one hour, or repetitive malfunctions, should be reported to the flag State Administration and Competent Authority of the port State of the vessel's destination. The report should include an explanation of the steps that are being taken to address the failure.

If the vessel’s EGCS cannot be returned to a compliant condition within one hour, the vessel must then change over to compliant fuel oil. If the vessel does not have sufficient compliant fuel oil to reach the next port of destination, the vessel will need to make a report to the relevant authorities, including the vessel’s flag State Administration and the Competent Authority for the next port of destination. The report must outline the vessel's proposed course of action, which might include bunkering compliant fuel oil at the next port or carrying out repair works. Where this occurs on an Australian vessel or a foreign vessel within Australian waters, this report should be sent to reports@amsa.gov.au.

Any EGCS found to be not in compliance with IMO guidelines in any respect (including but not limited to the discharge water quality criteria) may be prohibited from use in Australian waters.

Further information

Ship owners and operators should refer to AMSA Marine Notice 04/2019 for a summary of the MARPOL Annex VI low sulphur fuel requirements. Detailed requirements can be found in MARPOL Annex VI, the Australian legislation Protection of the Sea (Prevention of Pollution from Ships) Act 1983 and AMSA Marine Order 97 (Marine pollution prevention – air pollution).

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