Strasbourg, 07.06.2023 – France Takes a Step to Restrict Vessel Degassing

France has recently ratified the amendment to the Convention on the collection, deposit, and reception of waste produced during navigation on the Rhine and inland waterways (CDNI). This milestone signifies France’s commitment to safeguarding the environment and preserving air quality through the regulation of degassing activities conducted by inland navigation vessels.

The instrument of ratification, representing an essential progression towards the amendment’s implementation, was deposited by Diégo COLAS, Director of legal affairs at the French Ministry of European and Foreign Affairs. This event took place on June 7, 2023, at the Palais du Rhin in Strasbourg, where Mrs. Lucia Luijten, the Secretary General of the Central Commission for the Navigation of the Rhine (CCNR), received the document as the depository of the CDNI.

The amendment primarily focuses on progressively prohibiting degassing within the CDNI’s scope to prevent the release of harmful gaseous cargo residues into the atmosphere. Once volatile organic compounds have been extracted, residual vapours persist in tankers’ holds. Before loading the next cargo, these vapours must be appropriately disposed of when a vapour recovery system is unavailable to evacuate them into a shore-based tank. The six Contracting States of the CDNI unanimously adopted these regulations, establishing necessary procedures for receiving and handling gaseous residues.

Following the Grand-Duchy of Luxembourg, the Kingdom of the Netherlands, the Federal Republic of Germany, and the Kingdom of Belgium, the French Republic becomes the fifth Contracting State to deposit its instrument of ratification. Switzerland is currently in the process of ratification, with the instrument expected to be deposited before year-end. The amendment will take effect six months after the last instrument of ratification has been submitted. In anticipation of this, the responsible minister in the Netherlands has determined that a degassing ban will take effect on 1 July 2024 in accordance with the phasing described in the CDNI.

The CDNI, in force since November 1, 2009, is a convention aimed at protecting the environment, particularly water, during navigation on the Rhine and inland waterways. It presently encompasses six Contracting States: Belgium, France, Germany, Luxembourg, Netherlands, and Switzerland. The CDNI outlines regulations to promote waste prevention, direct waste to dedicated reception stations, establish international financing adhering to the “polluter pays” principle, and enforce bans on discharging waste into surface water.

This amendment, currently undergoing ratification, specifically addresses the reception of gaseous residues from liquid cargoes, aiming to safeguard the atmosphere from potential pollutants.

As France joins the ranks of nations actively championing environmental protection and air quality, this significant step showcases their commitment to sustainable practices within the inland navigation sector. With the ratification process nearing completion, the amendment to the CDNI is set to fortify the regulations governing vessel degassing, fostering a cleaner and healthier future for all.