IMO Secretary-General urges States to ratify 2010 HNS Protocol as signature period ends

IMO Secretary-General urges States to ratify 2010 HNS Protocol as signature period ends

IMO Secretary-General Efthimios E. Mitropoulos urged States to take steps to bring  the 2010 Protocol to the International Convention on Liability and Compensation for Damage in Connection with the Carriage of Hazardous and Noxious Substances by Sea, 1996 (2010 HNS Convention) into force, after eight countries signed the Protocol, subject to ratification or acceptance.

The treaty was adopted on 30 April 2010 and was open for signature from 1 November 2010 to 31 October 2011. The 2010 HNS Protocol now remains open for accession.

“I would urge all IMO Member States to now move forward with bringing the Protocol into force at the earliest possible date and, thereafter, to promoting the uniform and effective implementation of the HNS international regime,” he said.  “The 2010 HNS Convention establishes a comprehensive regime that will cover not only pollution damage from hazardous and noxious substances carried by ships, but also the risks of fire and explosion, including loss of life or personal injury as well as loss of or damage to property.”

Denmark was the first to sign the treaty, subject to ratification, on 14 April 2011. Canada, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway and Turkey signed the treaty, subject to ratification (or in the case of the Netherlands, subject to acceptance), on 25 October.

The 25 October signing, by representatives of the six countries concerned, was overseen by IMO Secretary-General Mitropoulos. (Photos here) Mr. Jose Maura, Acting Director (Director from 1 November) of the International Oil Pollution Compensation Funds (IOPC Funds) was also present. The IOPC Funds has been working closely with the IMO to expedite the entry into force of the HNS Convention as amended by the 2010 Protocol.

Greece also signed the treaty, subject to ratification, on 31 October.

The 2010 HNS Protocol will enter into force eighteen months after the date on which the following conditions are fulfilled:

(a) at least twelve States, including four States each with not less than 2 million units of gross tonnage, have expressed their consent to be bound by it; and

(b) the Secretary-General has received information in accordance with article 20, paragraphs 4 and 6, that those persons in such States who would be liable to contribute pursuant to article 18, paragraphs 1(a) and (c), of the Convention, as amended by this Protocol, have received during the preceding calendar year a total quantity of at least 40 million tonnes of cargo contributing to the general account.

Under the 2010 Protocol, if damage is caused by bulk HNS, compensation would first be sought from the shipowner, up to a maximum limit of 100 million Special Drawing Rights (SDR) (around US$150 million).

Where damage is caused by packaged HNS, or by both bulk HNS and packaged HNS, the maximum liability for the shipowner is 115 million SDR (US$172.5 million)

Once this limit is reached, compensation would be paid from the second tier, the HNS Fund, up to a maximum of 250 million SDR (US$375 million) (including compensation paid under the first tier). The Fund will have an Assembly, consisting of all States Parties to the Convention and Protocol, and a dedicated secretariat. The Assembly will normally meet once a year.

The Protocol of 2010 to the HNS Convention addresses practical problems that had prevented many States from ratifying the original Convention, which, despite being adopted in 1996, had not met the conditions for its entry into force.  The 1996 Convention, as amended by the 2010 Protocol, will mutatis mutandis constitute and be called the International Convention on Liability and compensation for Damage in Connection with the Carriage of Hazardous and Noxious substances by Sea, 2010 (2010 HNS Convention).

Under the 2010 HNS Convention, HNS are defined by reference to lists of substances included in various IMO Conventions and Codes. These include oils; other liquid substances defined as noxious or dangerous; liquefied gases; liquid substances with a flashpoint not exceeding 60°C; dangerous, hazardous and harmful materials and substances carried in packaged form; and solid bulk materials defined as possessing chemical hazards. The Convention also covers residues left by the previous carriage of HNS, other than those carried in packaged form.

The treaty defines damage as including loss of life or personal injury; loss of or damage to property outside the ship; loss or damage by contamination of the environment; the costs of preventative measures and further loss or damage caused by them.

The treaty introduces strict liability for the shipowner and a system of compulsory insurance and insurance certificates.