Hong Kong's Secretary for Environment, Wong Kam-sing, today in a written reply to a question asked by Hon Poon Siu-ping in the Hong Kong Legislative Council, said that, in an effort to enforce the regional emission control area (ECA) regulations, the Environmental Protection Department (EPD) had conducted surprise inspections on 166 ocean-going vessels (OGVs) as of January 2017.
EPD is said to have found four non-compliance cases by the end of January, and had initiated prosecutions, with owners and masters of the OGVs found to be in non-compliance fined within a range of $5,000 to $15,000.
As Ship & Bunker has reported, on July 1, 2015 Hong Kong introduced a mandatory 0.50 percent cap on the sulfur content in marine fuel for ocean-going vessels at berth, except during the first hour after arrival and the last hour before departure.
China subsequently announced that from 2017 it will implement similar at-berth regulations on the mainland, although those new rules were brought into force from April 2016 for a number of ports, including Shanghai, as part of a voluntary option to begin the scheme early.
Wong says that, since the regulation has come into effect, the concentration of sulfur dioxide recorded at the Kwai Chung Air Quality Monitoring Station (AQMS) near the Kwai Chung container terminals has been reduced.
"From July 2015 to June 2016, the average concentration of sulfur dioxide recorded at the Kwai Chung AQMS was 50 percent lower than that recorded in the preceding 12 months when it was downwind of the container terminals," noted Wong, concluding that this indicates an improvement of air quality in the area.
In July, Hong Kong said it would enforce China's new ECA regulations set for 2019, which will require all ships operating within the waters of the Pearl River Delta (PRD), Yangtze River Delta (YRD), and Bohai Bay regions, within 12 nautical miles of the Chinese coastline within the respective zones, to use a marine fuel with a sulfur content not exceeding 0.50 percent.