TBT antifoulant coatings have been estimated to save ship owners over two billion dollars annually in fuel avoidance costs. Nevertheless, at the initial urging of Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Japan, Norway, the Netherlands, Sweden and the United Kingdom, the Marine Environmental Protection Committee (MEPC) of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) recently recommended the phasing out of the use of TBT in antifouling paints over the next 5 years.
The case history of TBT is an example of the failure of the marketplace to balance itself such that one technology was so successful that it achieved worldwide application without a comprehensive environmental risk assessment during its 40 years of use as a marine antifoulant. In addition, its dominance retarded the development of alternatives. Today, interested parties are concerned that replacement alternatives may in the future exhibit similar “Catch 22” regulatory problems as TBT, due to a lack of an international testing infrastructure and standardized long-term environmental and risk assessments protocols.
The development of an independent, international Marine Coatings Board (MCB)
is proposed, funded by interested parties (ship owners, chemical manufactures, paint manufacturers, regulatory bodies, and environmental organizations) for standardized international testing of alternatives to TBT. The goals and objectives of the MCB are to promote the development and approval of alternatives that have comparable environmental and economic benefits to TBT.
An open, competitive, integrative, impartial process managed by a third party, neutral and independent organization is needed to support and complement the regulatory process. A Marine Coatings Board is needed so that the forces of the marketplace and regulatory process can work together to provide high quality, internationally standardized scientific data and performance information for environmental and public health risk assessments, benefits analysis and user-decisions for available alternative antifouling technologies.
Champ, M.A. 1999. The Need for the Formation of an Independent, International Marine Coatings Board. Viewpoint Article. Marine Pollution Bulletin. Vol. 38(4):239-246.
More information: Michael Champ