Control of Pollution from Ships on the Northern Sea Route

(By Gennady Semanov, J. Kirsh, O. Zhuravlev, V.Karev, N. Sisemov ; INSROP Working Paper No. 63 – 1996, II.6.1)


The problem of preventing sea pollution from waterborne traffic is of international character, and its solution is of especial value for the sensitive Arctic seas. Implementation of control over discharges from ships on the NSR is the focus of project INSROP II.6.1 "Control of pollution from ships sailing by the NSR". For the project were presented the INSROP report 1994 (Part I) and the INSROP Report of 1995 (Part II).

The aim of the first part of the project was clear sources of pollution and causes of pollutant discharges to the Arctic seas. The main sources of sea pollution from ships are operational discharges and accidental discharges associated with faults of the on-board environmental equipment, improper use of the equipment or erroneous action of operators. Illegal discharges of pollutants from ships to the sea are rare and caused mostly by a dearth of the shore reception facilities. In the project are reviewed international and national requirements of Canada and Russia for handling ship wastes. With a view to proper implementation of the requirements of the International Convention for the prevention of pollution from ships of 1973, amended by the Protocol of 1978 (MARPOL 73/78), as well as of national legislation of Russia on water quality preservation, "Guidelines for the control of pollution from ships sailing by the Northern Sea Route" have been developed in the second part of the study.

The Guidelines contain the water quality standards required by the rules for preservation of the Russian coastal sea waters, as well as the MARPOL 73/78 standards on discharge of pollutants from ships.

The Guidelines were developed with a view to reducing the quantities of pollutants introduced from ships to the sea environment. It includes organizational and technical measures to be carried out on ships sailing by the NSR for implementing the discharge standards set up by both the MARPOL 73/78 and authorized control bodies of Russia. The document provides also recommendations for the ship personnel on how to reduce quantities of operational ship wastes and to treat them rationally.

The Guidelines consists of five sections:

In the first section recommendations are given on organizational and technical measures that should be carried out on any ship sailing by the NSR to prevent oil pollution of the sea and the port areas. Some specific recommendations on preventing sea pollution from tankers are given. Attention is given to ecologically safe operation of tankers in the ice.

The second and the third sections consider problems of prevention of sea pollution by harmful liquid substances carried in bulk and by packed or bulk solid substances. Quality standards of the discharge of chemical products are given. It is prohibited to carry and discharge unevaluated substances.

The fourth section considers problems of prevention of sea pollution by sewage waters. The quality standards of the effluents, which should be observed when discharging to the sea are given. The sewage waters are recommended to be treated on board as carefully as possible so as to avoid their disposal at the shore reception facilities which are usually not fitted for these purposes on the NSR.

Similar recommendations are given in the fifth section concerning collection and disposal of garbage. A recommendation is made to supply ships with expendable products and materials in such package that either gives minimal waste quantities or is easily utilized. It is recommended that synthetic materials and plastics beavoided.

Each section of the Guidelines contains a list of documents which should be available on any ship either to support facts of observation of the environmental rules by the ship or to help in adhering to the rules. The procedure of drawing up the documents is given.


    Gennady Semanov, J. Kirsh, O. Zhuravlev, V.Karev, N. Sisemov, 1996, Control of Pollution from Ships on the Northern Sea Route, INSROP.©