Thursday, April 26, 2012

World Shipping Council Testimony on Container and Freight Pollution Problems

Committee Hear Evidence on Ballast Water, Air Pollution and Overloading
Shipping News Feature

US – Today at the request of the House Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation, Chris Koch, President and CEO of The World Shipping Council (WSC) testified regarding some current environmental and safety regulatory initiatives in which the industry is engaged and over which the Committee has oversight responsibility. The WSC represent member shipping lines which transport over 90% of the world’s box traffic and therefore have a primary interest in reducing pollution and reducing the overloading of freight in containers.

During his discussion of ballast water treatment regulations, a subject we have touched on many times, Mr. Koch noted the constructive coordination between the U.S. Coast Guard and the Environmental Protection Agency in developing a uniform regulatory approach by the federal government, but expressed the industry’s frustration at having to deal with this issue through the illogical and incoherent legal regime that currently addresses this issue - namely, two different federal agencies operating under two different federal statutes. Mr Koch said:

“The two agencies, whose final conclusions, even if and when fully coordinated, can be second guessed by 50 States being given authority to add their own different standards to the federal Vessel General Permit (VGP). This remains at best, wholly illogical and, at worst, a recipe for unnecessary and unproductive conflict.”

Regarding vessel air emissions, Mr. Koch reviewed efforts to reduce NOx, SOx and particulate matter emissions from shipping through the North American Emission Control Area that will become effective on August 1st, and the International Maritime Organizations efforts to develop international measures that will reduce carbon emissions from ships. He went on to point out that the industry currently has a compelling incentive to reduce fuel consumption, and therefore carbon emissions, pointing out that fuel is already by far the largest cost of liner operations.

The World Shipping Council estimates that at current prices, the liner shipping industry alone is probably spending roughly $50 billion a year on fuel for vessels serving the U.S. international trade.

On the subject of misdeclared container weights, which has been a safety concern of many maritime industry stakeholders for years, with shipping lines reporting that “in severe cases, the overweight or incorrectly declared weights reach 10% of the total cargo on board a vessel.” He explained that the WSC and other industry organizations have recommended that the IMO amend the Safety of Life at Sea Convention (SOLAS) to establish a universal international regulatory requirement that all loaded export cargo containers be weighed before vessel loading, and that the actual container weights be made available to the vessel operator and used for vessel stowage planning. He said that the industry was “hopeful that [its] recommendation will be seriously considered at the IMO and that the U.S. Coast Guard will be a strong supporter of this initiative.”

Mr Koch’s evidence to the Committee is available to read in full HERE.

Photo: Misdeclared containers have caused some extremely serious accidents. `