Combating paraffin wax residues at sea and on the beach

New agreements need to ensure that ships originating from Dutch ports no longer discharge tank washings containing paraffin such as candle wax into the sea. Minister Cora van Nieuwenhuizen (Infrastructure and Water Management) wants ships transporting such substances to the Rotterdam and Moerdijk ports to dispose of their tank washing containing these products in these ports. With immediate effect, under certain conditions, they will be compensated for such disposal. Today the Minister signed the agreements, together with parties such as carriers, shippers, and the Rotterdam Port Authority.

Minister Van Nieuwenhuizen: ‘In my opinion, discharging paraffin wax residue into the sea is out of date. This new approach helps to keep our beaches clean and thus prevents a high cleaning bill. Furthermore, it prevents fish, sea mammals and birds from eating paraffin wax residue. However, for me the buck does not stop at setting down national agreements with the maritime sector. Dutch efforts have contributed to the development of new international regulations that will reduce the volume of paraffin wax ending up in the sea and on the beach.’

International agreements

With the new agreements, the Netherlands is anticipating the endorsement of stricter international regulations regarding the discharge of tank washings containing paraffin-like substances into the sea. At the initiative of the Netherlands, the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) adopted a proposal in October 2017 to expedite the implementation of the new, stricter rules for certain regions, for example, in the North Sea. These regulations will be set down through the IMO, which includes 173 member countries. For global regulations, the IMO observes an amendment procedure of some two years. The stricter requirements are expected to enter into force at the global level by 2021 at the earliest.

The Netherlands will submit the agreements made today to the IMO, as an example to other countries. Following the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and Sweden have also indicated their intention to take action now in anticipation of the tighter international regulations; they are interested in the Dutch strategy.

Participating parties

Combating paraffin wax discharges into the sea involves a collaboration between the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management, the Port of Rotterdam, Koole Terminals, Bolsius International, the Royal Association of Netherlands Shipowners KVNR, Stichting de Noordzee [North Sea Foundation], and Rijkswaterstaat [the executive branch of the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management].