Pollution, bunkers and the environment
There is unlikely to be a major shipping casualty where environmental issues are not an issue.
This is an area where our unique model of using experts to augment what we can do comes to the fore. Whilst we are very used to dealing with environmental issues we work with other experts and renowned legal specialists in this field to provide a seamless and comprehensive response to an incident. For further information on this subject from a specialist with whom we cooperate in this way see www.colindelarue.com.
Environmental issues are now a key driver in policy decisions in shipping. Recent years have seen “landmark” decisions being made about the use of high sulphurous fuels which come into force on 1stJanuary 2020. However, there is now evidence that as the switch is made to more environmental fuels that they become more unstable and this is exacerbated by refineries coming up with different solutions raising the chances that fuels are less compatible. These issues are already being seen with a series of scandals with Safety Alerts being issued by the US Coast Guard in respect of bad bunkers where the standard ISO 8217 tests are not detecting the underlying problems. We have experience in dealing with the issues that arise acting for bith owners and charterers.
Fortunately oil pollution at sea has become rare but casualties do lead to the release of oil and bunkers leading to issues arising under the Civil Liability and Fund Conventions which apply in most parts of the world, and the Bunker Convention which governs spills of bunker fuel. These regimes involve strict (“no-fault”) liability and can apply where a casualty causes a threat of pollution, even if none actually occurs.
Environmental issues also arise under MARPOL and our experience includes dealing with cases involving disposal of dead cattle whilst at sea.