The Proper Management Of The Waste Produced By A Breakdown On Board A Ship


The Court of Justice of the European Union, by deciding the case C-689/17, dealt with the issue of the proper classification of the "waste" produced by a breakdown on board a ship.

All waste intended to be moved between the Member States of the European Union, and outside the European Union, have to be follow the specific procedures laid down in the Regulation (EC) No 1013/2006 [14] on shipments of waste (hereinafter, the "Regulation").

In case of particular waste (i.e. waste intended for disposal or for recovery), articles 4 and ff. of the Regulation provide for a complex procedure of notification and prior written authorisations (hereinafter, the "Notification Procedure").

In any event, there are certain exemptions from the application of the Regulation for specific categories of waste, including the waste set forth in Article 1, par. 3, lett. B) of the Regulation: "waste generated on board vehicles, trains, aeroplanes and ships, until such waste is offloaded in order to be recovered or disposed of".

Let's see what the Court has established regarding this issue of great practical relevance, also in light of the severe sancions connected with the violations of the Regulation, which provide for imprisonment pursuant to section 259 of the Italian Legislative Decree 2 april 2006, no. 152.

Let's start with the facts: in 2012, during a trip from Charleston (United States) to Antwerp (Belgium), a fire occurred on board a container ship.

The ship was taken in tow by two tugs and, subsequently, led to the port of Wilhelmshaven (in the Land of Lower Saxony, Germany) and transferred to a ship-repair yard in Mangalia (Romania) for the necessary repair and proper treatment of the substances on board.

However, before the ship could resume the voyage from Germany to Romania, the Ministry of the Environment of the Land of Lower Saxony informed the shipowner that the ship itself and "the water on board used to extinguish the fire as well as the sludge and scrap metal [were] to be classified be classified as waste".

Consequently, according to the Ministry, it was necessary to follow the Notification Procedure provided for by the Regulation, especially on account of the presence, on board the ship, of scrap metal and of fire-extinguishing water mixed with sludge and cargo residues.

Once all the operations required for complying with the decision of the German authority (in order to avoid further delays) were completed and after having been authorised to...

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