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New Hong Kong regulation requires clean fuel while at berth

New Hong Kong regulation requires clean fuel while at berth
A new air pollution regulation mandates ocean-going vessels to use clean fuels while berthing in Hong Kong. The compliant fuels are low sulphur marine fuel, with sulphur content not exceeding 0.5%, liquefied natural gas and any other fuels approved by the director of environmental protection.

The regulation will be gazetted Friday. If the Legislative Council approves the regulation during a March 18 meeting, it will take effect July 1.

The regulation prohibits ocean-going vessels from using any fuel other than compliant fuel while at berth in Hong Kong, except during the first hour after arrival and the last hour before departure.

Ship masters and shipowners will be required to record the date and time of fuel switching and keep the relevant records for three years. If a vessel uses technology that can achieve the same or lower emission of sulphur dioxide when compared with using low-sulphur marine fuel, the ship may be exempted from switching to compliant fuel, a spokesman for the Environmental Protection Department said.

Non-compliance will make a master and owner liable for a maximum fine of $200,000 and imprisonment for six months. Masters and owners who fail to record or keep the required particulars will also be liable to a maximum fine of $50,000 and imprisonment for three months.

The Environmental Protection Department said ocean-going vessels generally run on heavy fuel oil with an average sulphur content of 2.6%. The SO2 emissions at berth account for about 40% of its total SO2 emission during its stay in Hong Kong. The new regulation is expected to help reduce the total emissions of SO2 and suspended particulates by 12% and 6% respectively, improving Hong Kong's air quality and reducing health risks.