Japan proposes tougher world tanker regulations

Jan 15, 1997 01:00 AM

Jan. 9, 1997 Japan may propose more stringent international tanker regulations following the big oil spill last week in the Sea of Japan that fouled hundreds of km (and miles) of Japanese coastline, government officials said. They added that the issue should be dealt with at the international level. "Matters like this would better be left to the IMO (International Maritime Organisation)," a transport ministry official said. The IMO is a United Nations body dealing with maritime issues. Ministry officials cited stricter rules on tanker inspection and double-hulling of old tankers as possibilities. Current IMO regulations require that all large tankers 25 years old or older be refitted with double hulls, which reduce the chance of an accidental spill. The regulations, however, only apply to so-called dirty tankers, which carry crude and heavy oil, of 20,000 dead weight tonnes (dwt) or more, and so-called clean tankers, which carry lighter oil products such as gasoline, of 30,000 dwt or more. The 26-year-old Russian-registered Nakhodka, which broke in two in the Sea of Japan on January 2 while carrying about 19,000 tonnes of grade C heavy fuel oil from China to Russia, was a 19,986-dwt dirty tanker. Many shipowners are expected to resist stricter regulations on refitting with double hulls, industry sources said, as the massive cost usually forces the vessels to be scrapped altogether.

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