Coastguard to blitz ports to prevent pollution

Marine authorities all over the world are cracking down on ships which fail to meet international standards on oil pollution prevention.

Dozens of countries from around the globe have signed up to a concerted campaign which will see every ship inspected by port authorities checked out for compliance with regulations to control marine pollution.

In particular oil filtering equipment and record keeping will be scrutinised in more detail.

Past inspections have regularly found illegal by-passes of the oil filtering system and illegal overboard connections from sludge tanks designed to deliberately pump the oil waste into the sea.

On many occasions the oil record books were not properly kept.

The campaign is expected to see around 4,500 inspections carried out by signatories of the Paris Memorandum of Understanding on Port State Control - European Union members and a number of their neighbours - while the Tokyo MoU group will embark on a similar clampdown in Asian ports.

Port authorities will board and inspect ships flying under foreign flags at random and if problems are found in the initial sweep an in-depth investigation will take place.

When deficiencies are found, sanctions may vary from recording the deficiency and instructing the master to rectify it within 14 days to the detention of the ship until all deficiencies have been rectified.

The MoUs carry out campaigns focusing on particular issues of marine safety at least once each year.

Next year's campaign will hone in on the International Safety Management System adopted by the shipping industry in 2002.

By Sam Bond



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