Inland tankers are not allowed to degas certain substances in the open air. Since Monday 1 July 2024, many substance groups have been added. Those violating the ban on degassing while sailing can expect action, warns the Dutch Human Environment and Transport Inspectorate (Inspectie Leefomgeving en Transport, ILT).

ILT is tasked with enforcing the ban and, as an administrative body, will take action against shippers. ILT does this administratively and criminally with fines and penalty payments, among other things. For the first offence, a penalty of EUR 30,000 is imposed. On the second violation, that amount goes up to EUR 40,000 and on the third and subsequent penalties, shippers forfeit amounts of EUR 50,000.

Also read: Police drone catches inland tanker degassing while in transit

Inspectors, drones and eNoses

To enforce this ban, the ILT has scaled up to a team of a total of ten inspectors who are fully committed to ensuring that prohibited emissions are no longer released into the air. Additional mobile sets of drones and eNoses will also be prepared in the coming period to be deployed for enforcement across the Netherlands. This is in anticipation of further expansion of the existing eNose network. This will enable even better enforcement.

‘To enforce properly, the inspectorate has to detect violations,’ explains senior inspector Kees Kievit. ‘On the waterways, we do that with drones, among other things. This involves additional incriminating information that the drone picks up as evidence. Reports from the industry, local residents and the existing eNoses also help us track down violators quickly.’

Ban on degassing while sailing

The ban on degassing while sailing is being introduced in stages. In three phases, the ban will be applied to more and more substances. Residual vapours of designated substances must then be discharged at so-called degassing facilities. In the Netherlands, the second phase entered into force on 1 July.

  • Phase 1: Ban on degassing petrol, benzene, petroleum distillates and mixtures with more than ten per cent ethanol. These are the most commonly transported substances.
  • Stage 2: Ban on degassing crude oil, flammable liquids and hydrocarbons with more than ten per cent benzene.
  • Stage 3: Ban on degassing of acetone, ethanol and methanol, among others. This ban takes effect three or four years after phase 1.

Also read: Dutch Cabinet approves ban on degassing ships while sailing

Not undisputed

However, there are some reservations about the announced inspections. Public broadcaster NOS reports, for example, that: ‘the inspectorate recognises that hundreds of additional electrical measuring stations are needed to carry out the checks. This would cost EUR 4.5 million, which the inspectorate does not have. In addition, it is expected that there are not enough trained staff to pick up reports.’

In addition, five to ten degassing facilities should be available in the Netherlands from 1 July. Yet, research by Schuttevaer shows that nine companies are currently in the process of setting up degassing installations, but only one degassing installation is actually available for inland tankers (at Moerdijk).

Also read: EMSA drones sniff emissions from ships in the Channel