Cleaner air as a result of rural ban on degassing en route

The provincial ban on the so-called 'degassing en route' on ships will be expanded to a nationwide ban.

Degassing en route along inland waterways is bad for the air quality, affects the health of people living in the neighbourhood and of people who work with the substances. Inland tankers often still allow harmful vapours of cargo residues to escape into the open air.

The province of Zuid-Holland already banned en route degassing of benzene (2015) and benzene compounds (2016). Various other provinces have since introduced bans as well. The extension of the provincial bans to a national level in 2020 makes it easier to act against violators. The national ban aims to achieve a further 98% reduction of the current emissions of these harmful substances in 2023.

Minister Van Nieuwenhuizen (Infrastructure and Water Management) decided on 28 May 2018 with provinces and companies to create a task force to facilitate the smooth introduction of the national ban.

Phased Implementation

The introduction starts with a nationwide ban on the degassing of motor fuels and benzene in 2020, followed by liquids containing more than 10% benzene in 2022 and finally a ban on the 25 most dangerous transported substances in 2023. The goal is to reuse the fumes of dangerous cargoes as a raw material, allowing an environmentally friendly cycle to develop. Where that is not possible, ships may use degassing installations on shore and mobile installations on the water.

The ban on degassing en route fits into a broader trend of initiatives by both provinces and private parties in inland and maritime shipping, under the slogan: ‘the polluter pays’. Last month, a global agreement to reduce CO2 emissions from seagoing ships was signed, and 2 weeks ago, Minister Van Nieuwenhuizen signed an agreement with shippers, the Port of Rotterdam and producers to stop the discharging of paraffin at sea. An umbrella Green Deal with the entire maritime sector for further sustainabilization will follow before the end of this year.