State Audit Office: Ports do not ensure reception of all ship waste

Toomas Mattson | 10/5/2004 | 12:00 AM

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TALLINN, 5 October 2004 - The SAO has found that ship waste may be dumped into the Baltic Sea because of the inactivity of the Government, for Estonian ports have not provided facilities for the reception of all ship wastes despite the corresponding international commitments assumed by the government.

The Estonian register of ports contains 21 ports, which are visited by 27,000 vessels annually. The reception of ship waste is the responsibility of the port authority, but it is not regulated how the port authorities are to provide it. This has led to a situation where ports have organised waste reception inconsistently or delegated the responsibility for organisation.

The port must provide adequate facilities for the reception of ship-generated waste on the basis of a harmonized system of fees. This means that all waste is collected on the account of port charges, or a separate fee for ship waste reception will be established, whereas the principles of charging must be identical in either case. This would provide incentives for ships to dispose of waste in ports instead of dumping it into the sea.

In Estonia the reception of ship waste according to a unified system of port fees is not regulated by law and thus it does not occur in practice, although the EU Directive so stipulates. Consequently, port authorities do not have actual overview of the waste flows passing through the ports and in addition, some ports collect wastes only in limited amounts.

The audit focused on the organisation of the reception by ports of the most voluminous waste – bilge water, consumer waste and sewage. Of these, data are collected only on handled bilge water, because bilge water is a hazardous waste, which is formed when the water condensed on the ship bottom mixes with oily residues.

The Information and Technology Centre of the Ministry of the Environment collects waste reports of enterprises and hazardous waste manifests, however, these do not provide a clear overview of the actual situation. For instance, the quantities of bilge water as recorded in waste reports in the period from 1999 to 2003 fluctuate more than threefold.

The quantities of bilge water in 2002 as recorded in hazardous waste manifests are by 29 % lower compared with the quantities entered on waste reports.

In the SAO estimation the Ministries of the Environment and of the Economic Affairs and Communications have failed to ensure the management of ship waste in ports in the manner consistent with the requirements of the Convention on the Protection of the Marine Environment of the Baltic Sea Area or the Helsinki Convention.

Further, the Ministries have not reached an agreement as to whose responsibility is, for instance, supervision. Currently there are no penalties imposed on a ship leaving a port without discharging its wastes.

Although ship waste reception is carried out by ports operating under the Maritime Administration and the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications, the entity responsible for compliance with the Helsinki Convention is the Ministry of the Environment who has not, so far, performed its coordinating and managing role in a satisfactory manner.

The SAO audited the organisation of ship waste management in ports in the period from January 2000 to June 2004. The audit was conducted in collaboration with the supreme audit institutions of the other Baltic Sea countries to examine Government compliance with the Helsinki Convention in respect of prevention of pollution originating from ships.

Toomas Mattson
Communication Manager of National Audit Office
Telephone: 6400 777
Mob: 51 34900
E-mail: [email protected]

  • Posted: 10/5/2004 12:00 AM
  • Last Update: 10/1/2015 9:20 AM
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