(27) Environmental Law

Training Manual on International Environmental Law

droitenvironnement

The Sea Pollution Act 1991

Provision of facilities for discharge or disposal of oil and related substances

Where the Minister is of the opinion that the facilities in any harbour in the state for the discharge or disposal of oil, oily mixtures, noxious liquid substances, harmful substances, sewage or garbage are necessary or that the facilities which exist at that harbour for such discharge or such disposal are inadequate, he may make regulations under s 12(1) of the Sea Pollution Act requiring where there is a harbour authority in charge of the harbour, the harbour authority, and in any other case, the person under whose control the harbour is to make such provision as may be specified in the regulations for such discharge or such disposal.

According to s 12(2), regulations made under s 12(1) may provide for such matters as the manner in which oil, oily mixture, noxious liquid substances, harmful substances, sewage and garbage may be discharged from a ship, the disposal of any such substance so discharged, the facilities for such discharge or such disposal to be provided by a harbour authority or, as the case may be, the person having control of the harbour and the time within which such facilities are to be provided.

Offence to contravene a regulation made under s 12 of the Sea Pollution Act

Section 12(4) of the Sea Pollution Act provides that a person who contravenes a regulation made under s 12 shall be guilty of an offence.

Duty to report a discharge or probable discharge

Aduty is imposed by s 13(1) of the Sea Pollution Act on the owner or the master of a ship to report a discharge or probable discharge in the state, or in any prescribed area outside the state, of any oil, oily mixture, noxious liquid substance, harmful substance, sewage or garbage:

(a) Resulting from damage to the ship; or

(b) For the purpose of securing the safety of the ship; or

(c) For the purpose of saving human life.

A report must also be made where there is, during the operation of a ship in the state or any such prescribed area, a discharge or probable discharge of any such substance in excess of the quantity (if any) permitted by regulations made under s 10 of the Sea Pollution Act.

If the discharge or probable discharge occurred in the state or in any prescribed area outside the state other than in a harbour, the Minister must be notified of the fact and cause of the incident. If the discharge or probable discharge occurred in a harbour, the harbour-master or person having control of the harbour must be notified of the fact and cause of the incident and such person must then report the incident to the Minister under s 13(2).

Section 13(3) specifies that every report made under s 13 must give details of the nature of the incident, the identity of the ship or ships concerned, the time, type and location of the incident, the quantity and type of substance the incident.

The Minister is given power by s 13(4) to make regulations in relation to the making of a report under s 13 of the Sea Pollution Act.

Regulations as to construction, fitting or operation of ships

The Minister may make regulations under s 14(1) of the Sea Pollution Act requiring the owner or master of a ship, or ship of a prescribed class, which is registered in the state, to have such ship constructed, fitted or operated in such manner as may be specified in the regulations and the owner or master must comply with such other requirements as may be so specified, so as to prevent, control or reduce the discharge into the sea of oil, oily mixtures, noxious liquid substances, harmful substances, sewage or garbage.

It shall be an offence under s 14(2) for the owner or master of a ship to contravene any regulation made under s 14 of the Sea Pollution Act.

Records to be kept by the master relating to prescribed substances

Section 15(1) of the Sea Pollution Act requires the master of a ship to which s 14 of the Sea Pollution Act applies to keep such records as may be prescribed of operations on board his ship in relation to any prescribed substance and of the discharge of any prescribed substance resulting from damage to a ship, or for the purpose of securing the safety of a ship or saving life at sea. Records must also be kept by the master of the discharge of any substance, in excess of the quantity (if any) permitted by regulations under s 10 of the Sea Pollution Act.

Section 15(2) provides that the Minister may make regulations under s 15(1) in relation to the manner and form in which any records required under s 15 should be kept, the custody, preservation and disposal of any such records, the making available of any such records for inspection and such other matters as appear to the Minister to be necessary.

It shall be an offence under s 15(3) for any person to contravene s 15, or any regulation made under that section, or to make any entry or alteration in any record required to be kept under s 15 of the Sea Pollution Act which is to his knowledge false and misleading in a material respect.

Application of ss 14 and 15 of the Sea Pollution Act to ships not registered in the state

Section 16 extends the application of ss 14 and 15 to a ship and the owner and master of a ship registered in a country other than the state whilst that ship is in the state as if the ship was registered in the state.

Survey of ships

Part III of the Sea Pollution Act deals with enforcement. Section 17(1) gives the Minister power to make regulations requiring that any ship, or a ship of such class as may be specified in the regulations, its equipment and fittings be surveyed, inspected or tested in such manner and at such times as may be prescribed. Section 17(2) provides that all duties in respect of a survey, inspection or test for the purposes of regulations made under s 17 shall be performed in accordance with the directions of the Minister by a surveyor of ships, or an inspector appointed under s 20 of the Sea Pollution Act.

Section 17(3) of the Sea Pollution Act imposes a duty on the owner or master of the ship to submit the ship to such survey, inspection or test and to pay such fee as may be prescribed.

Certificate of compliance with requirements of the Sea Pollution Act

If the surveyor of ships or other person appointed for the purposes of s 17 surveys the ship and is satisfied that the ship, its equipment or fittings to which the survey relates complies with the requirements of the Sea Pollution Act, the Minister shall, on payment of the prescribed fee, cause a certificate of compliance to be issued under s 17(4). The certificate may be issued in such form and manner as the Minister may prescribe.

Fees for surveys, inspections and tests

The Minister may, with the consent of the Minister for Finance, make an order under s 17(5), prescribing the fees to be paid for surveys, inspections and tests carried and certificates issued under s 17 of the Sea Pollution Act.

No change in structure, equipment or fittings without Minister’s consent

Where a certificate has been issued under s 17(4) of the Sea Pollution Act in relation to a ship, s 17(6) provides that no change, other than the replacement of any defective equipment or fittings, shall be made in the structure, equipment or fittings of the ship, without prior consent given by or on behalf of the Minister.

Offence to contravene s 17 of the Sea Pollution Act or relevant regulations

Section 17(7) states that the owner and the master of a ship in respect of which there is a contravention of s 17 or regulations made under that section shall be guilty of an offence.

Survey of ships registered in a MARPOL Convention country

Under s 18(1) of the Sea Pollution Act the government of another country which is a party to the MARPOL Convention may request the Minister to have a ship registered in that country surveyed and the Minister may comply with such a request. Where such a request is made, ss 14 and 17 shall apply to such ship as if it was a ship registered in the state and the owner had submitted to the survey.

Section 18(2) provides that any certificate issued under s 17 of the Sea Pollution Act in respect of such a ship must contain a statement that it has been issued at the request of the government concerned. Section 18(3) provides that a copy of a survey report and a copy of a certificate made or issued in pursuance of s 18 must be transmitted as soon as possible to the government concerned.

Duties of a surveyor of ships

Section 19 of the Sea Pollution Act stipulates that a surveyor of ships shall be an inspector for the purposes of the Sea Pollution Act. The surveyor must report to the Minister generally on:

(a) Whether the requirements of the Sea Pollution Act are being complied with;

(b) What measures have been taken for the prevention of pollution caused by the escape from ships of oil, oily mixtures, noxious liquid substances, harmful substances, sewage or garbage; and

(c) Whether facilities exist in any harbour or any other place in the state for the discharge and disposal of such substances and whether such facilities are adequate.

Appointment of an inspector

The Minister is given power by s 20 of the Sea Pollution Act to appoint a person to be an inspector for the purposes of the Act to carry out such functions as are specified in his warrant of appointment.

Powers of an inspector

Section 21(1) of the Sea Pollution Act provides that an inspector may do all such things as he considers necessary for the purpose of carrying out his functions under the Sea Pollution Act. Section 21(2) of the Sea Pollution Act sets out the powers of an inspector, which include a right to:

(a) At any time go on board any ship while the ship is in the state or an Irish ship anywhere and inspect the ship and all machinery, boats, equipment or fittings on that ship and test any equipment on board the ship with which the ship is required to be fitted;

(b) Inspect any document on board the ship and require any person on board to produce to him any document in his possession or control;

(c) Require that person to furnish him with his name and address;

(d) Take samples of oil, oily mixtures, noxious liquid substances, harmful substances, sewage or garbage from any ship;

(e) Copy any entry in any prescribed document or record or in any log book of the ship and require the person by whom the document or record is kept to certify the copy as a true copy of the entry;

(f) Enter any place, at any time, whether on land or at sea, and inspect in that place any container for the storage of oil, oily mixtures, noxious liquid substances, harmful substances, sewage or garbage, or any apparatus for the transfer of such matter to or from a ship;

(g) Require by summons any person to attend before him and examine him on oath;

(h) Require a witness to make and subscribe a declaration of the truth of any statements made at his examination.

Taking of evidence

Section 21(3), (4), and (5) of the Sea Pollution Act contain procedural provisions as to the taking of evidence.

Offences relating to evidence

Section 21(6) of the Sea Pollution Act states that any person who is summoned as a witness before an inspector and tendered his expenses but fails to attend or who refuses to take an oath legally required by the inspector to be taken, or refuses or neglects to make any answer, or to produce any document, or certify a copy of any entry, or, on being requested by an inspector to stop a ship for the purpose of enabling the inspector to board the ship, shall be guilty of an offence.

Inspector may order master to remedy defects in ship

Section 22(1) of the Sea Pollution Act provides that where an inspector determines, having inspected a ship, that the ship or any equipment or fitting on that ship does not correspond substantially with the particulars specified in a certificate under s 17 or an equivalent certificate issued by another party to the MARPOL Convention, or is so defective that the ship is not fit to be put to sea without presenting a serious threat of damage to the marine environment, he may direct the master of the ship to take all action necessary to ensure that the ship or its equipment corresponds with those specified particulars, or that any defect is remedied.

Power of an inspector to detain a ship

Section 22(2) of the Sea Pollution Act gives an inspector power to detain a ship to which s 22(1) applies until there has been compliance with any directions given by him under s 22 in relation to the ship. Section 22(3) imposes a duty on an inspector to take all such steps as appear to him to be necessary to ensure that a ship in relation to which he has given directions under s 22 of the Sea Pollution Act will not put to sea or leave harbour for the purpose of proceeding to the nearest repair yard without presenting an undue threat of damage to living marine resources.

Offences relating to a ship which has been detained under s 22 of the Sea Pollution Act

It shall be an offence under s 22(4) of the Sea Pollution Act for any person to fail to comply with a direction of any inspector under s 22, or to put to sea, or attempt to put to sea, otherwise than in accordance with the Sea Pollution Act, a ship which has been detained by an inspector under s 22(2).

Duty of an inspector to report non-compliance to the Minister

If the master of a ship registered in the state does not comply with the direction of an inspector under s 22, s 22(5) provides that the inspector must immediately report the fact to the Minister who may direct that a certificate issued under s 17 of the Sea Pollution Act, in relation to the ship be withdrawn.

Power of a harbour-master to refuse entry of a ship into a harbor Section 23(1) of the Sea Pollution Act gives a harbour-master power to refuse entry into the harbour over which he has control to a ship where he has reasonable cause to believe that the ship does not comply with the requirements of the Sea Pollution Act, or that it would cause a serious threat of damage to flora or fauna, living marine resources, the harbour or other ships, unless the entry of the ship is necessary for the purpose of saving life.

Section 23(2) gives the Minister, or a person appointed by him under s 23(4) to act on his behalf, a similar power to refuse entry to a ship into the state, or into a harbour or to require the ship to leave the state or harbour and to comply with such conditions as may be specified, where he is satisfied that the ship does not comply with any of the specified conditions as may be specified.

Minister may direct a harbour-master to permit entry of ship

If a harbour-master has refused entry under s 23(1) of the Sea Pollution Act, the Minister, or a person appointed by him to act on his behalf, may direct the harbour-master under s 23(3) to permit the ship to enter, and to comply with such conditions as may be specified, following consultation with the harbourmaster. Where such a direction is issued, the harbour-master must permit the ship to enter the harbour upon such conditions, and the master of the ship must comply with those conditions.

Power of the Minister to appoint a person to act on his behalf

Section 23(4) of the Sea Pollution Act gives the Minister power to appoint by warrant a person to act on his behalf for the purposes of s 23(2) and (3). Such a person will be provided with a warrant which he must produce on request for inspection when exercising a function under s 23 of the Sea Pollution Act.

Regulations relating to entry and destination of ships

The Minister is given power by section 23(5) of the Sea Pollution Act to make regulations providing, in respect of ships generally or ships of any prescribed class, for the giving by the owner or master of a ship of notice of the entry or intended entry of the ship into the state and of its passage and destination while in the state and such other information relating to the ship and its cargo as may be prescribed.

The Minister may also make regulations preventing the entry of a ship or of a ship carrying a specified cargo into the state if he has reasonable cause to believe it will cause serious threat of hazards to human health, damage to human life, harm to living marine resources or to flora or fauna or damage to amenities, or interference with legitimate uses of the sea.

Offence to fail to comply with a direction under s 23 of the Sea Pollution Act

Section 23(6) makes it an offence for the owner, master or any person to fail to comply with a direction, or the requirements of regulations, under s 23 of the Sea Pollution Act.

Power to stop and detain a ship which has caused or may cause pollution

Section 24(1) of the Sea Pollution Act gives an inspector or a harbour-master power to stop and detain a ship where he has reasonable cause to believe that the ship has caused, or may cause, pollution and the ship is in the state. However, s 24(2) of the Sea Pollution Act states that a harbour-master may only exercise such power whilst the ship concerned is within the harbour over which he has control.

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