A new step towards cleaner air in North Holland

News item

A ban on degassing of benzene and of cargo containing benzene during sailing will apply in North Holland with effect from 1 March 2017. The Provincial Executive of North Holland approved the amendment of the provincial environmental regulations on 20 December. This measure will contribute to a better environment and cleaner inland navigation.

Degassing during sailing

Degassing during sailing is the release, active or otherwise, of vapours of volatile organic compounds (VOC) from the cargo tank of a vessel that has carried petroleum-containing products or chemicals. No measures to limit emissions are required to be taken for this, by contrast to the applicable procedures for shoreside degassing. When tankers change cargo, they usually degas residual cargo vapours in the tank before loading the next (non-)compatible cargo. This serves to avoid contamination of the next cargo by the previous cargo.


A review is currently taking place of how to optimally structure the process of supervision and enforcement. An enforcement protocol will be drawn up on that basis. The ban will be enforced in collaboration with the Harbour Master’s Division, the North Sea Canal Area Environment Agency and the national police force. In addition, Port of Amsterdam is committed to stimulating sufficient degassing capacity in the region. The port of Amsterdam is in talks on this with market parties.
Until this facility is in place, a transitional phase will apply as regards enforcement of the ban on degassing. Port of Amsterdam will keep you informed of developments in this field.


A ban on degassing during sailing has been in force in the provinces of North Brabant and South Holland since 2015. Together with the provinces of Utrecht, Gelderland and Zeeland, the province of North Holland commissioned a review of the effects of this ban. This showed that the ban in North Brabant and South Holland has a limited effect on degassing frequency in North Holland. This may change when the ban on degassing during sailing in the province of Utrecht becomes effective. The ban in the province of Utrecht and the ban in North Holland will both become effective as of 1 March 2017.