A ban on sailing degassing is legally possible, say researchers from Erasmus University in Rotterdam. This contradicts what several ministers of infrastructure and Water Management have said so far on this topic. “We want to ban it, but have to wait for other countries,” was the position.

The researchers from Erasmus University, professor of international law Alessandra Arcuri and PhD candidate Abdurrahman Erol, analyzed the international shipping treaties. They did so at the request of Omroep Flevoland. This study shows that the Prohibition of sailing degassing is indeed possible and that this does not have to wait for an international treaty. In fact, the Netherlands must immediately introduce a ban on the basis of human rights treaties, the researchers argue.

The successive Ministers Cora van Nieuwenhuizen, Barbara Visser and Mark Harbers stated that a nationwide ban should be arranged with the CDNI States. On December 8 of the previous year, Harbers informed the chamber that it is waiting for France and Switzerland. France expects the proposal to be considered in January and to be able to ratify it soon after, and Switzerland hopes to be able to ratify it by mid-2023.’

In the Maritime committee debate on the same day, several MPs announced that they believe that the minister should hurry.

By the way, in Belgium there is already a ban on sailing degassing. In Germany, it hardly happens due to regional bans. And in France and Switzerland, sailing is not degassed at all.

The ministry does not want to respond to the University’s research, says Omroep Flevoland. This month there will be a chamber letter about sailing degassing. Tomorrow, Tuesday 24 January, there will be a two-minute debate by the committee on maritime affairs. Broadcaster Flevoland reports that GroenLinks will submit a motion for a ban on sailing degassing.

Whether or not there will be a ban is still a question. When there is a ban, there is another problem. The alternative possibilities are very limited. In Moerdijk there is a fixed degassing installation and in Amsterdam a permit has recently been granted for a mobile installation. These are two installations, while according to NRC there are now at least 15 tankers a day that degass while sailing.

The fact that there are no other installations has two causes. They are not needed, first of all, since sailing degassing is free and allowed. Secondly, the cargo fumes from the ships are classified as waste, while the processors claim that they are valuable cargo residues. Waste disposal places strict requirements on the process. ‘This raises practical concerns. Companies that process the cargo fumes and where the mobile degassing plants are to be located fear the administrative burden of a permit application, ” Harbers wrote in the letter on December 8.

Provincially, there are already bans in the Netherlands. In Flevoland, for example, where controls have been stricter since December last year. With stricter control, the province is trying to provoke shippers to invest in a degassing plant.

‘In the current era, sailing degassing has become an unsustainable practice. The damage to the environment is unacceptably high, crew members of ships and citizens run unwanted safety and health risks.we call on government agencies and all parties involved in the chain to intensify efforts to make sailing degassing a thing of the past. There is no need to wait for the entry into force of laws and regulations. Results can be achieved in the short term,’ says Rob Leussink, managing director of Royal Netherlands inland navigation.

The industry association has been campaigning for the elimination of sailing degassing for many years. It has been a thorn in the side of the industry for a long time, states KBN. The granting of permits for Steam processing plants is difficult and should receive an impetus from the provinces, municipality and government, to reduce degassing earlier. On February 9, KBN will enter into consultation with the minister, during this meeting the industry association will emphasize the importance of an early licensing of these installations.

In the short term, KBN wants to conclude an agreement with ambitious shippers and charterers to significantly reduce the number of degassing operations.

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