A coalition of NGOs has called on the countries in the Arctic Council to ban heavy bunker oil in the region. In a letter sent earlier this week on behalf of 15 NGOs, the grouping stated: “The risks to the marine environment, the climate, and public health are too great to permit the continued use of [heavy fuel oil] in Arctic shipping.”
As it stands, there is a recommendation in the IMO’s Polar Code to apply the the ban on a voluntary basis, whereas a total ban has been in place in the Antarctic since 2010.
“Coupled with its viscosity and tendencies to sink and stick to anything it comes into contact with, cleanup effort becomes insurmountable,” the letter says.
“The problem is more acute in Arctic waters because of lower species diversity as well as reduced growth and reproduction rates for its biota. More damage can occur, more quickly and with longer lasting effects than in other climates.”
The NGOs also warned of the effect the fuel has on air quality.
Five years ago, the European Parliament demanded a ban on heavy fuel oil in the Arctic.