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The Polar Code Impacts on the Arctic Environment: Will the Polar Code Reduce Risks of Spills in Polar Waters?

2011 WMU-IMO Conference on Oil Spill Risk Management 7-9 March, Malmรถ, Sweden Victor M. Santos-Pedro Transport Canada

Q: Is a ship-source spill preventable in remote ice-covered waters given state-of-the-art technology, operational experience, and current knowledge?

A: Yes


Avoiding Ice – Lessons learned from the Titanic and the Exxon Valdez

Resource exploration and increased Arctic shipping

The Polar Code – Reducing environmental risk – Impetus and development – Current progress – Potential outcomes

Summary – Managing risk

Avoiding Ice The Titanic and the Exxon Valdez

Lessons Learned •

Both incidents are vivid reminders of the risks inherent to operating in polar waters and demonstrate the importance of situational awareness

Therefore, operation in polar waters requires that mariners: • Know their capabilities; • Know the capabilities of their vessel; • Know the ice conditions; and • Plan accordingly

Resource Exploration in the Arctic •

Over the past 35 years major resource exploration activities have taken place offshore – Particularly in the northern waters of the US, Russian Federation, Canada and, more recently, Norway and Greenland

Economic realities may result in even higher activity levels in the future

A more robust management regime will be needed to address safety and protection of the environment

The sensitivity of the Arctic marine environment underscores the need for preventative measures to deal with the impacts of shipping activity – Arctic Oil and Gas Assessment 2007 – Oil spills are the largest threat to the Arctic marine environment

The proposed Polar Code is one such tool that applies current knowledge to promote safety and protection of the marine environment

The Polar Code •

Why a Polar Code? – Polar waters pose particular challenges and require significant environmental considerations – Harmonized, common rules provide greater protection worldwide and simplify the work of designers, builders, operators and regulators

Crew qualification and training with equipment appropriate for the prevailing conditions are key to safe operations

Recognition that preparedness, communication, and ice management are key components of polar operations

Introduction of a comprehensive mandatory Polar Code will enhance safety and environmental protection

Impetus for the Polar Code •

Proposals to IMO to develop a harmonized system of ice class rules

Polar regions present unique hazards to navigation

Projected increase in traffic – as ice extent decreases and drive for resource exploitation increases (including the shipment of hydrocarbons)

No specific mandatory measures currently exist beyond those for open water navigation and national regimes such as those in Canadian and Russian coastal waters

Recommendation by the Arctic Marine Shipping Assessment (2009) that Arctic states “support the updating and the mandatory application of relevant parts of the Guidelines for Ships Operating in Arctic Ice-covered Waters”, which incorporate requirements for Polar Class ships

Toward Development of the Polar Code •

IMO Outside Working Group (under the DE sub-committee) 1992-2002 – Explored options and developed a way ahead – Drew on expertise from stakeholders and experts

Consensus to set up parallel groups with overlapping membership – IMO would develop the overall framework for the initiative – IACS would produce detailed requirements for construction-related items

Guidelines for Ships Operating in Arctic Ice-Covered Waters (2002)

IACS Polar Rules (2008)

Guidelines for Ships Operating in Polar Waters (2009)

IMO draft proposal for risk-based mandatory measures by 2012

Toward Development of the Polar Code •

Polar Code to have mandatory and recommendatory parts

Principles guiding Code development: – Risk-based approach in determining scope – Holistic approach to mitigate risks to acceptable levels

Development and use of an extensive hazards and risks list for validating risk mitigation measures

Hazards and risks provisionally consolidated into four main categories: 1. 2. 3. 4.

Environmental conditions High latitude Environmental sensitivity Human element

(e.g. ice, temperatures) (e.g. remoteness, communications issues) (e.g. slow recovery from damage) (e.g. specialized training and experience requirements, physiological effects of polar conditions)

Example of Hazards and Consequences Conditions/Areas of concern Environmental conditions

Potential hazards Low air temperatures

Possible Potential result consequences Failure of structure Material embrittlement/ loss of Failure of systems flexibility Hypothermia

Reduced survival time

Human error leading Reduced human performance, physical to accidents and cognitive Inability to start functions emergency equipment Reduced battery performance High air density

Turbocharger failure

Potential Mitigating Measures •Construction Provisions • Structures

• Subdivision and stability • Accommodation and escape measures • Anchoring and towing arrangements • Main/auxiliary machinery • Electrical installations

• Equipment • Fire safety

• Life-saving appliances and survival arrangements • Personal and group survival kits • Lifeboats and liferafts • Navigational equipment

Potential Mitigating Measures • Documentation • Ship operational control

• Reporting • Operating and training manuals • Drills and emergency instructions • Crewing

• Ice navigator qualifications and training

• Emergency Equipment • Reserve supplies

• Damage and repair equipment

• Environmental Protection and Damage Control • Equipment and Materials

Operation in Polar Waters •

Given the challenges and remoteness of operating in polar waters, detailed voyage planning, special communication measures and situational awareness of the conditions all contribute to reducing risk


A mandatory Polar Code establishes an enforceable regime that mitigates the risks posed by operation in polar waters with a basket of measures that are appropriate for the operation, and that are holistic in nature

Structural Requirements •

A mandatory Polar Code will reference IACS Unified Requirements for Polar Class Ships

These structural requirements include provisions specific to: hull strengthening and resistance to ice loads, shell plating and plated structures, framing, corrosion/abrasion additions, materials, appendages, and welding – For example, in Polar Class Ships, hulls should be strengthened to resist design structure/ice interaction scenarios. Further, “framing members” of Polar Class ships must be designed to withstand ice loads and resist collapse

Awareness of this structural information can then be used to relate a vessel’s capabilities to particular ice conditions

Subdivision and Carriage of Pollutants Based on current IMO Guidelines: •

No Polar Class ship is to carry any pollutant directly against the outer shell in areas of significant risk of ice impact

Any pollutants is to be separated from the outer shell of the ship by double skin construction

Polar Class ships are to be constructed with double bottoms

Certification 1. Polar Ship Certificate – Indicates the Polar Class of the ship (and thus environmental conditions for which the ship has been designed for operation in polar waters) – Requires comprehensive structural assessment 2. Permit to Operate in Polar Waters – Supplements the Polar Ship Certificate – Required in order to operate in polar waters – Stipulates constraints on the operation of the ship – Port / coastal States may impose additional limitations and require inspections

Certification 3. Ice Certificate – A ship-specific operations manual that provides guidance for safe speeds and safe separation during escorted operation in particular ice conditions – Requires evaluation of ship’s structural integrity for sailing in ice conditions

Potential Outcomes •

Guidelines largely incorporated into the Polar Code

Limited initially to SOLAS Convention ships, perhaps with extensions for: – MARPOL consistency – ‘High Risk’ vessel types

All such ships operating in Polar Waters will be required to carry some form of Permit to Operate and Ice/Polar Certificate addressing safe operating limits like: – Safe speeds in different ice conditions – Permissible operating temperatures – Permissible operating areas/seasons

Certification will generally be delegated to Responsible Organizations

Enforcement by Flag, Port and Coastal States, or VTS, based on area of operation

Crew qualification and training; limited response capabilities; on-shore technical response services; reporting systems

Q: Does the proposed mandatory IMO Polar Code have potential to prevent a catastrophic oil spill?

A: Managing Risk A mandatory IMO Polar Code will reduce the likelihood of ship-source pollution by providing: • An increased understanding of the limits of vessels operating in polar waters • Harmonized, common standards that promote good ship design and clean construction, and suitable equipment • Highly trained and qualified crew capable of adequately planning for the conditions in polar waters

Additional measures will also be required to prevent spills: • Uniform application of pollution prevention measures by operators and regulators • Address infrastructure deficit • Planning, coordination and cooperation throughout, be it in governance, operational, or response matters

Questions – please!

POLAR CODE – Impacts on Arctic Environment  

Victor Santos Pedro Transport Canada