390 - 11/04 - Reminder of the Regulations Covering the Disposal of Spoilt Cargoes in International Waters

We are advised of a recent incident where a vessel which was disposing of cargo residues in international waters, was ordered into a port and a 'bond guarantee' demanded for the release of the ship.

We would like to remind Members of the provisions of the London ‘Dumping’ Convention, which amongst other matters regulates the dumping of spoilt cargoes at sea. Should a Member contemplate such a disposal, presumably where a salvage sale is not economic or practical, then it is essential that a 'prior permit' be obtained to satisfy the regulatory authorities (IMO, flagstate and in some instances a port authority or nation state).

It is also noteworthy that some countries (Australia, Bangladesh etc…) impose their own 'spoilt cargo disposal systems' which can be expensive and time consuming. These can be avoided by a properly regulated sea dumping operation executed between the initial port of discharge giving rise to the incident and the vessels next port of call. Such permits can normally be obtained within 24 hours.

Full details of the convention can be found on the Environmental Encyclopaedia or at


Source of information: 

Steamship Maritime Co Ltd

Tel: + 44 1206 863885

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