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States urged to ratify compensation regime for hazardous and noxious cargoes

The International Maritime
Organization (IMO), together with the International Oil Pollution Compensation
Funds (IOPC Funds) and the International Tanker Owners Pollution Federation
(ITOPF), is urging its Member States to ratify and implement a key compensation
treaty covering the transport of hazardous and noxious substances (HNS) by
ship.

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), when in
force, will provide a regime of liability and compensation for damage caused by
HNS cargoes transported by sea, complementing existing regimes already in force
for the transport of oil as cargo, bunker oil used for the operation and
propulsion of ships, the removal of hazardous wrecks and claims for death of or
personal injury to passengers, or for damage to their luggage, on ships.

“The HNS Convention
recognizes that accidents can and do happen and it is the last piece in the
puzzle needed to ensure that those who have suffered damage caused by HNS
cargoes carried on board ships have access to a comprehensive and international
liability and compensation regime,” said IMO Secretary-General Kitack Lim.
“The number of ships
carrying HNS cargoes is growing steadily with more than 200 million tonnes of
chemicals traded annually by tankers. I urge all States to consider acceding to
the HNS 2010 treaty as soon as possible, in order to bring it into
force.” 
Entry into force requires
accession by at least 12 States, meeting certain criteria in relation to
tonnage and reporting annually the quantity of HNS cargo received in a State.
There are as yet no
contracting States to the 2010 HNS Convention. However, progress towards the
Convention’s entry into force has gathered pace over the past year, with a
number of States preparing the necessary implementing legislation.

Together with the IOPC Funds and ITOPF, IMO has produced a six-page brochure that
explains to States the purpose and benefit of the HNS Convention and encourages
IMO Member States to take the next steps to ratify or accede to the Convention.

The development of the
brochure was achieved collaboratively through an IMO Correspondence Group and
its production was funded through a donation made to IMO by the Government of
Canada. 
 It is the first in a series of tools to be
developed in collaboration with IMO Member States, the purpose of which is to
make ratification a priority and to assist government administrations in their
internal promotion of the Convention. It also highlights the potential risk to
claimants if there is currently no liability and compensation regime in force.
IMO measures relating to the
prevention of accidents that involve HNS cargoes are already in force,
including ship design, operations and safety on board as well as safety of
loading and unloading operations. There is also a protocol covering
preparedness and response to shipping accidents involving hazardous substances.
The 2010 HNS Convention can
deliver the uniform and comprehensive regime needed to provide compensation for
costs, including clean-up and restoring the environment, in the event of an
incident involving HNS cargoes.
Total compensation available
under the Convention is capped at 250 million Special Drawing Rights (SDR) of
the International Monetary Fund (approximately USD $380 million at current
exchange rates) per event.
Shipowners are held strictly
liable up to a maximum limit of liability established by the Convention for the
cost of an HNS incident. Registered owners of ships carrying HNS cargoes, have
to maintain insurance that is State certified.
The HNS Fund pays
compensation once shipowner’s liability is exhausted and is financed through
contributions paid post incident by receivers of HNS cargoes. The HNS Fund is
administered by States and contributions will be based on the actual need for
compensation.
HNS covered by the
Convention 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 or in containers; and solid bulk materials defined as possessing
chemical hazards.
The HNS Convention
establishes the principle that the ‘polluter pays’ by ensuring that the
shipping and HNS industries provide compensation for those who have suffered
loss or damage resulting from an HNS incident.
The brochure can be
downloaded via the following links in EnglishFrench and Spanish.
 IMO –
the International Maritime Organization – is the United Nations specialized
agency with responsibility for the safety and security of shipping and the
prevention of marine pollution by ships.

 Credit: IMO

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