OPRC-HNS Protocol – Japanese Law amendments

7 May 2008 No.08-002
We would like to inform you of the captioned matter as follows.

1.OPRC-HNS Protocol

The International Convention on Oil Pollution Preparedness, Response and Co-operation 1990 (OPRC), provides a global framework for responding to pollution incidents, either nationally or in cooperation with other countries. A protocol to extend the convention to pollution Incidents by Hazardous and Noxious Substances (HNS) was adopted in 2000 and entered into force in certain countries, including the UK and Japan on 14th June 2007 (the OPRC-HNS Protocol).

The OPRC-HNS Protocol follows the principles of the OPRC, which itself entered into force in 1995. Thus, parties to the OPRC-HNS Protocol are required to establish measures for dealing with national and international pollution incidents. Ships are further required to maintain a shipboard pollution emergency plan to deal specifically with incidents involving HNS.

2.Japanese law amendments

In order to implement the OPRC-HNS Protocol, the Japanese law relating to the Prevention of Marine Pollution and Maritime Disaster was amended in 2006 (the PMPMD). Although the amended PMPMD came into force on 1st April 2007 (requiring local authorities to establish measures to respond to HNS incidents) it did not apply directly to shipowners until 1st April 2008.

With effect from 1st April 2008, tankers over 150GT carrying liquid HNS products (e.g. gasoline, kerosene, light oil and noxious substances like benzene), are required to have access to materials, equipment and experts necessary for the prevention/elimination of HNS spills when sailing in certain specified areas in Japan (Tokyo Bay, Ise Bay, Seto Inland Sea including Osaka Bay)

3.Contract with MDPC

The Maritime Disaster Prevention Center (MDPC) provides the materials, equipment and experts that are required under the amended PMPMD law. Effectively, owners carrying HNS are required to pre-contract with the MDPC before entering an area specified under the PMPMD.

This is similar to the obligations already imposed on tankers calling at Japanese ports and carrying persistent oil. The PMPMD law requires such tankers to have in place measures to respond to an oil pollution incident, which have been provided by the MDPC, with whom owners pre-contracted.

Further information regarding the MDPC contract can be found on their website (

The latest MDPC contract (for HNS Tankers) has been reviewed by the International Group to determine if it is consistent with the International Group's guidelines for OSRO contracts. Unfortunately it does not accord with the Group's guidelines, particularly in relation to the allocation of responsibility for the acts of parties. In this respect the MDPC HNS contract differs to that for oil tankers.

As a temporary measure, and to allow time for discussions with the MDPC, the International Group's brokers have arranged additional insurance to cover the increased liability, details of which can be obtained from the Association.