Date Set for Yangtze River Delta ECA
The Chinese Ministry of Transport has announced that from April 1, 2016, vessels ‘at berth’ at the core ports in the Yangtze River Delta emission control area (ECA) must use fuel oil containing 0.5 percent sulfur or less. These core ports are Shanghai, Ningbo-Zhoushan, Suzhou and Nantong.
This requirement is part of emission control measures that will be implemented in the region ECA in two phases:
In the first phase, which takes effect from April 1, 2016,:
• Ships at berth at the core ports in the ECA must use fuel oil containing 0.5 percent sulfur or less
• Ships at berth at ports in the ECA are encouraged to use fuel oil containing 0.1 percent sulfur or less, and
• Ships entering the ECA are encouraged to use fuel oil containing 0.5 percent sulfur or less.
The second phase will be implemented dependent on the outcome of assessment of the first phase; the possibilities given at this time are:
• Ships entering the ECA must use fuel oil containing 0.5 percent sulfur or less
• Ships entering the ECA must use fuel oil containing 0.1 percent sulfur or less
• Ships ‘at berth’ at ports in the ECA must use fuel oil containing 0.1 percent sulfur or less.
The exact details of how the measures will be implemented (i.e., enforcement, penalties, the definition of ‘at berth’, and requirements for fuel change-over, verification of fuel quality, records and documentation) are not yet available, reports Lloyd’s Register.
These emission control areas arise as a matter of Chinese domestic law and are not MARPOL Annex VI designated emission control areas.
Late in 2014, New York-based Natural Resources Defense Council released a report on air pollution in China citing shipping as a major contributor and recommending the introduction of ECAs. The report, Prevention and Control of Shipping and Port Air Emissions in China, states:
“China is home to seven of the world's ten busiest container ports. About 26 percent of the world's containers pass through the top ten Chinese ports every year. Every ship and truck brings pollution along with its cargo, and China is paying a high price for pollution from shipping. In 2010 the country saw an estimated 1.2 million premature deaths caused by ambient air pollution.
“According to studies conducted in Hong Kong and Shenzhen, shipping is a significant source of these air pollution and health problems, particularly in port cities. Since Chinese port cities are among the most densely populated with the busiest ports in the world, air pollution from ships and port activities likely contributes to much higher public health risks than are found in other port regions.”