MARPOL – Regulation versus Safety Culture

CHIRP has received two reports related to possible non-compliance with MARPOL.

What did the reporter tell us?

In one case an officer ordered a reluctant crew to throw oily waste and a broken washing machine overboard. The exact location is not known, but the crew were sufficiently concerned to involve authorities at the next port of call.

The other report involved the master and chief engineer being requested by the shore to dump damaged oil drums “at a distance of more than 20 miles from the shore”, with financial recompense; they declined.

The lessons to be learnt

The Maritime Advisory Board commented that failure to observe MARPOL, or indeed other similar regulations, was likely to be indicative of the level of general management and safety standards on board vessels or within companies. If either is found to have deliberately violated MARPOL, then P&I Clubs will not cover associated costs.

CHIRP suggests

Obeying MARPOL rules is one thing; and it is necessary.  However acting in the true spirit of MARPOL regulation in order to reduce disposal overboard to an absolute minimum (for instance by use of compactors or on board incineration) is a state of mind and shows a high level of safety and environmental maturity. This needs to come not only from on board management but also from the highest levels within companies themselves.  Most have environmental policies; are these words to which we turn blind eyes, or do we ensure that standards are met?