LCQ7: Enforcement of Air Pollution Control (Ocean Going Vessels) (Fuel at Berth) Regulation
The Air Pollution Control (Ocean Going Vessels) (Fuel at Berth) Regulation (Cap. 311 sub. leg. AA)(the Regulation), which has come into operation since July 1, 2015, provides that ocean-going vessels (OGVs) must use compliant fuel for combustion purposes for operating any of the specified machinery while at berth in Hong Kong (except during the first hour and the last hour of the berthing period), and compliant fuel means low sulphur marine fuel (i.e. marine fuel with sulphur content not exceeding 0.5 per cent by weight), liquefied natural gas or any other fuel approved by the air pollution control authority. On the other hand, vessels plying exclusively within river trade limits do not fall within the ambit of the Regulation. Regarding the enforcement of the Regulation, will the Government inform this Council:
(1) of the number of inspections conducted by the authorities' personnel at different locations of the harbour, the number of prosecutions instituted in respect of non-compliant cases, as well as the number of persons convicted and the penalties imposed on them, since the implementation of the Regulation;
(2) whether it has assessed the effectiveness of the Regulation in improving coastal air quality; if it has assessed, of the outcome;
(3) whether the authorities will, in order to further improve coastal air quality and safeguard the health of employees at cargo terminals, tighten the requirements of the Regulation so that OGVs during the first hour and the last hour of the berthing period and vessels plying within river trade limits will no longer be exempted from the requirement of using compliant fuel; and
(4) given that some members from the shipping industry have relayed that, in response to their enquiries, both the Marine Department and the Environmental Protection Department have indicated that the responsibility to enforce the Regulation lies with the other party, of the respective roles of the two departments in enforcing the Regulation; if both departments have a role to play, whether the authorities will consider designating one single department to enforce the Regulation?
(1) The Air Pollution Control (Ocean Going Vessels) (Fuel at Berth) Regulation (Cap 311AA) (the Regulation) has come into operation since July 1, 2015. As at January 2017, the Environmental Protection Department (EPD) conducted surprise inspections to 166 ocean-going vessels (OGVs) berthed mainly in the vicinity of residential areas. The number of inspections at different berthing locations is shown in the table below:
|Berthing locations||Number of Inspections|
|Kai Tak Cruise Terminal/Ocean Terminal||9|
|Buoys / Anchorages||4|
As at end of January 2017, the EPD spotted four non-compliance cases and initiated prosecutions accordingly. Owners and masters of the OGVs concerned were convicted and fined in a range from $5,000 to $15,000.
(2) OGVs generally run on heavy fuel oil (HFO) with a maximum sulphur content of 3.5 per cent. Mandating OGVs to switch to fuel with sulphur content not exceeding 0.5 per cent while at berth can help reduce emissions of sulphur dioxide and hence improve air quality. After the Regulation came into effect, the concentration of sulphur dioxide recorded at the Kwai Chung Air Quality Monitoring Station (AQMS) in the vicinity of the Kwai Chung container terminals has reduced apparently. From July 2015 to June 2016, the average concentration of sulphur dioxide recorded at the Kwai Chung AQMS was 50 per cent lower than that recorded in the preceding 12 months when it was downwind of the container terminals. This indicated an improvement of air quality at areas, including coastal areas, affected by emissions of OGV at berth subsequent to the implementation of the Regulation.
(3) The sulphur content and viscosity of HFO is higher than those of marine light diesel oil (MLD). Owing to the difference in viscosity between the two types of fuels, OGVs have to strictly follow proper procedures when switching from HFO to MLD or vice versa for safety considerations. In this regard, during the EPD's consultation with the shipping trade on the Regulation, the trade advised that the fuel switch could be completed within one hour. Therefore, the Regulation allows an exemption for OGVs from using low-sulphur fuel during the first hour and the last hour of berthing. As the exemption is to cater for the operational need of the shipping trade, we do not have any plan to change it.
The Regulation is not applicable to river trade vessels as they mainly use MLD as fuel.
To further improve air quality in coastal areas and protect public health including the health of employees at cargo terminals, the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government and the Guangdong Maritime Safety Administration are collaborating on the implementation of a domestic emission control area (DECA) in the waters of Pearl River Delta (PRD) in January 2019. Vessels plying within the PRD DECA are required to run on low-sulphur fuel with the sulphur content not exceeding 0.5 per cent. In end 2016, both sides signed a cooperation agreement and formed a working group to work on the implementation plan of the PRD DECA.
(4) All along, the EPD is responsible for the implementation of the Regulation. The Marine Department is not involved in the enforcement of the Regulation.
Ends/Wednesday, February 8, 2017
Issued at HKT 12:05
Issued at HKT 12:05