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A man in HAZMAT suit.

Countdown to IHM compliance – are you prepared?

To help owners and operators prepare for the upcoming deadline for IHM compliance, we answer frequently asked questions around the EU SRR regulation.

The final EU Ship Recycling Regulation (EU SRR) deadline for Inventory of Hazardous Materials (IHM) requirements is getting ever closer. This should not be breaking news for most shipowners and operators given the formal adoption of the IMO Hong Kong Convention for the Safe and Environmentally Sound Recycling of Ships (HKC) in 2009, and the phased entry of the EU SRR since 2018. EU SRR is a regional regulation that requires commercial in-service vessels over 500gt which are either EU-flagged (including the UK, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein) or non-EU flagged, calling at EU ports and anchorages to compile and maintain a certified IHM.

An IHM is an inventory of any materials present in a ship’s structure, systems and fitted equipment that may be hazardous to human health and the environment. EU-flagged ships will require an Inventory Certificate and non-EU flagged ships will need a Statement of Compliance (SoC) against the regulation. Both must be issued on behalf of the Flag (either by the Flag itself or a Recognised Organisation (RO) the Flag has authorised to do on their behalf). The requirement for non-EU ships (“third country”) is full compliance with IMO HKC as a minimum.

Shipowners and operators should have already started this process in order to ensure compliance before 31 December deadline. However, for those who have not started we would advise you to start as soon as possible.

To support industry stakeholders with preparing for this change, we have put together a summary of the most frequently asked questions:

  1. Do I have to have an IHM and certification ahead of legislation entering into force?

Yes. In our experience, shipowners and operators need at least six weeks to compile a new IHM for an existing ship. However, this is typically longer if the services of an expert company are employed to undertake hazardous material sampling on board (which LR recommends). It then takes a month or so for ROs to carry out approval, verification and certification work.

For third country vessels not planning to call into the EU until later in 2021, certification only needs to be in place before this date. However, we still strongly recommend aiming to achieve this before the end of 2020 because:

  • Trading routes are ever more likely to change, which could make the requirement more urgent
  • The time it can take to achieve compliance, especially due to COVID travel restrictions

    2. What is the likelihood of the EU SRR deadline being extended, in light of COVID-19?

Based on current feedback from the European Commission (EC), the likelihood of the EU SRR being extended is small.

Members of the industry, such as the International Chamber of Shipping and BIMCO, formally requested consideration of a grace period based on the argument that COVID-19 is an event shipowners or operators could not have been prepared for and will lead many to miss the deadline.

The EC has advised that it is not empowered to extend the legal deadline. Nevertheless, Member States may exercise certain discretion when it comes to enforcing the regulation, for example where a shipowner has endeavoured to achieve certification within the deadline but has been unable due to factors outside their control.

Although the previous duration of time (between the regulations, entry into force and onset of COVID-19) available to achieve compliance may prompt a stricter approach, at the time of writing, there is not yet any specific, formal guidance from the EC on how to exercise discretion. It is therefore difficult to envisage what such discretion might look like or the likelihood that it will be consistent from port to port.

We recommend that shipowners and operators concentrate on the elements within their control and ensure as a minimum that they have: (i) contracted a HAZMAT specialist in good time to compile the sampling and IHM and make every effort to get the work completed, and (ii)contracted with the relevant Flag or RO to conduct the approval and verification work required for certification.

3. What information is needed to be provided to LR in order to get IHM certification?

For existing ships, LR will request the following documentation be provided as a minimum, ahead of the desktop approval, on-board IHM verification survey and ultimate certification:

  • a completed IHM on the LR template;
  • a Hazardous Materials Expert Sampling report for all hazardous materials within the structure, systems and fitted equipment of the vessel (if compiling the IHM initially for full HKC and EU SRR compliance)

- OR -

  • the collected paperwork from build and ongoing maintenance where the IHM was compiled at build against the HKC or EU standards (note, where the IHM is against HKC standards and the ship is EU flagged, we will also require an expert sampling report for the additional applicable EU required hazards).

The following documents will also be requested and should be provided if available:

  • Asbestos-free certificate from build;
  • PCB-free certificate;
  • International Air Pollution Prevention (IAPP) Certificate and Supplement to IAPP Certificate (recording machinery and equipment containing Ozone Depleting Substances (ODS)) as required by MARPOL Annex VI;
  • Antifouling certificate;
  • Evidence of a procurement policy in place (restricting the hazards identified in the legislation from being brought on board). For existing ships, LR strongly recommends that, in the absence of complete paperwork from build, a hazardous materials expert is employed to undertake sampling onboard to determine presence and extent of hazards. This is in-line with both the HKC MEPC.269(68) and EU SRR EMSA Guidance.

    4. How long after IHM approval does the on-board verification and certification have to be completed?

Upon satisfactory completion of the IHM approval, the IHM must be verified on board before a statement/certificate can be issued. While there is no limit of time stated in legislation between approval and onboard verification, it is recommended to complete the verification survey as soon as possible after the approval. This minimises the likelihood of any repairs or modifications being made to the structure, equipment and fittings, which would then result in potential updates to/maintenance of the IHM.

“Maintaining the IHM” is mandatory in the legislation. If, for example, the IHM is approved two years before verification, the likelihood of the IHM having been updated is greater, thus the need to repeat IHM approval. Up to six months between completion of approval and onboard verification surveys is considered a “reasonable period”, beyond which the owner should submit suitable declarations and statements as evidence that from the date of compiling the IHM (and visual/sampling check plan) there were no changes with regards to existence of hazardous materials in the structure and/or equipment.

5. Will non-EU flagged vessels need a Statement of Compliance (SoC) issued on behalf of the Flag?

Current EMSA guidance for IHM states that non-EU flagged ships must have an SoC issued on behalf of the Flag in order to be compliant. To LR’s best knowledge, EU Port State Controls are expected to enforce this specific requirement, and an SoC on behalf of the RO providing approval/verification will not be sufficient.

This is a challenge for many shipowners with vessels flying third country Flags – as many of these Flags have not yet authorised ROs to issue an EU SoC in their name. LR continues to work with third country Flags to obtain this authorisation for both LR classed and non-LR classed ships. Shipowners can check which Flags have already authorised LR at lr .org/en/resources/ihm-authorities.

We would strongly recommend that shipowners check these details with their IHM provider(s) and contact their Flag directly if their selected RO has not yet been authorised to provide certification for their IHM. In most cases, the Flag will have authorised all or none of its ROs.

We recommend that shipowners who are yet to start the certification process do not delay this while awaiting their Flag to authorise ROs for this work (unless the Flag itself can commit to completing all work before thedeadline). By using a RO such as LR, this ensures all of the groundwork is completed before the deadline. Where LR has issued an SoC on its own behalf and subsequently receives authorisation to issue on behalf of the Flag, we will do this free of charge.

6. How should the IHM be maintained?

In order to uphold IHM certification, the IHM itself must be maintained and updated during vessel operation using the official IHM template provided by LR. If any items recorded in the IHM are added to, removed or replaced, or the hull coating is renewed, the IHM should be updated using information obtained from Material Declarations (MD) and Supplier Declarations of Conformity (SDoC) forms. The requirement for MD and SDoC forms should therefore be included in the shipowner’s internal procurement policy at the time of the initial IHM compilation. MD and SDoC must be collected for every item brought onboard the ship. According to MEPC.269(68), shipowners should ‘implement the following measures in order to ensure the conformity of Part I of the Inventory:

  • to designate a person as responsible for maintaining and updating the Inventory (the designated person may be employed ashore or on board);
  • the designated person should establish and supervise a system to ensure the necessary updating of the Inventory in the event of new installation;
  • to maintain the Inventory, including dates of changes or new deleted entries and the signature of the designated person;
  • to provide related documents as required for the survey or sale of the ship.

The following points should be considered as best practice advice when considering developing or reviewing current procurement policies to restrict hazards being brought onboard ships after the initial compilation of the IHM:

  • Request that any items supplied to the ship are accompanied by a completed MD and SDoC as per the guidance in MEPC.269(68) and the EMSA best practice guidance.
  • The procurement policy should make explicit reference to the up-to-date IMO Resolution MEPC.269(68), which replaced MEPC.197(62) in 2015 to cover HKC.
  • The procurement policy should make explicit reference to Regulation (EU) no 1257/2013 if coverage of EU SRR hazards is required.
  • The policy should preferably cover the hazards listed in both Appendix I and II of HKC and Annex I and II of EU SRR.

7. Will one Material Declaration per supplier covering multiple different products be enough?

The Material Declaration (MD) requested from the supply chain is designed for use on a per product basis – therefore, a singular MD per supplier which covers multiple items is unlikely to be enough or acceptable. (Note: according to Section 2.5 of MEPC.269(68) a product is defined as “machinery, equipment, materials and applied coatings onboard a ship”.)

If a single MD is provided by a supplier, covering multiple items, the maintenance of the MD will become much more difficult. As an example, if there is a change on one product (replacing a computer with a new one, for example), the whole document, covering all listed products will have to be revised. As such, practically speaking, maintaining such declaration on a product by product basis is much more manageable.

Ongoing maintenance is reliant on suppliers having the correct paperwork to provide completed MD and SDoC. Going forward, this will become one of the next big challenges that shipowners and operators and suppliers to the industry face after 31 December deadline. Correct, complete and comprehensive paperwork is required by ROs, such as LR, for re-certification of the IHM in the fifth year. Incomplete or insufficient paperwork may lead to LR being unable to provide recertification without additional sampling being undertaken again.

8. What does the UK’s exit from the European Union mean for EU SRR?

There is still ambiguity around the UK’s exit from the European Union; the one thing we do know is that EU SRR has already been mirrored to UK law. The following expectations are based on what we currently know and are not certain/subject to change:

  • IHM Requirements at UK Port State Control: We recommend working on the assumption that any ships calling at a UK port will still require the same documentation as would be required at an EU port and non-compliance would be subject to the same penalties.
  • IHM Requirements at an EU Port State Control: The UK will become a ‘third country’ and as such any UK-flagged ships may need to have onboard both an Inventory Certificate (issued in accordance with UK regulations) and a SoC issued on behalf of Flag to demonstrate IHM compliance at an EU port. It is not yet confirmed whether existing statutory certificates issued by the UK flag Administration will be valid until expiry or whether they will need to be reissued as an SoC beforehand.
  • Up until the end of the transition period, or until informed otherwise, the UK should be considered an EU Member State.

If further clarification is needed, we would also recommend shipowners and operators contact their respective flag Administration.

9. How does IHM compliance fit with wider ship recycling initiatives?

The objective of the EU SRR is to reduce the negative impacts linked to the recycling of ships. The IHM is the link between the ship’s operational phase and its end of life. So, although the IHM may be compiled at build and is used for keeping the crew onboard safe from exposure to unnecessary hazards, its primary use comes when a ship is being recycled. The up-to-date information contained in the IHM helps recyclers make critical decisions about methodologies and best practices to employ in order to keep the recycling process as safe and environmentally sound as possible. The EU SRR has brought forward all requirements from HKC, as well as setting additional stringent standards around working from an impermeable surface and controlling the downstream management of hazardous wastes beyond the recycling facility, all EU-flagged ships to use an approved ship recycling facility included in the European list (effective from 31 December 2018).

At LR, we are committed to supporting safe and environmentally sound ship recycling. IHM compliance is one part of our wider ship recycling services. We have in-depth knowledge of ship recycling legislation, standards and practices through our work at IMO, IACS and the International Ship Recycling Association (ISRA). We have also represented IACS on Ship Recycling legislation at the IMO and have made significant and ongoing contributions to the EU Regulation.

Horizons December

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