Protection of the Marine Environment
Handling of Dangerous Substances and Waste
Evaluation of Environmental Impact
Pesticides and Fertilizers

The long-awaited executive regulations for the implementation of the Federal Law for the Protection and Development of the Environment (24/1999) have been issued by Council of Ministers Decision 37 of 2001. The decision regulates pollution (including pollutants and various chemicals), and outlines the procedures for obtaining licences and other approvals from the appropriate bodies.

The decision is divided into rules concerning:

  • the protection of the marine environment;
  • the treatment of dangerous substances and waste (including medical waste);
  • evaluations of environmental impact; and
  • pesticides and fertilizers.

The decision took effect in January 2002 with the exception of the dangerous substances and waste provisions, which take effect in April 2002.

Protection of the Marine Environment

The rules for the protection of the marine environment concern the control of pollutants from tankers and other sea-going transportation for oil and oil mixtures.

The 'marine environment' is defined as "the marine waters and their contents of natural resources, plants, fish, other marine creatures and the above atmosphere, as well as fixed and movable installations and projects established in the marine environment. The boundaries of the marine environment extend to the economic zone of the state".

Conditions are imposed upon the unloading of tankers carrying more than 400 tonnes, in terms of location, position, amount of oil, supervision and prohibited chemicals. All ports that allow ships and oil tankers must be equipped to deal with related waste.

A ship's captain must implement measures to minimize pollution. He or she is responsible for maintaining the ship, obtaining the necessary certificates, and informing the authorities and coastguards of oil leakages as soon as they occur (this duty also applies to those responsible for oil extraction and marine platforms). The owner or captain of a local or foreign ship that carries and transports oil must keep a register for the oil on the ship. The captain of a ship that enters any port in the state must provide the appropriate authorities with details of what the ship is transporting together with relevant certification.

Ships transporting oil of more than 150 gross tons into the marine environment must have a contingency plan for dealing with pollutants, with a description of the materials available for this purpose.

Pollutants that are classified as 'very dangerous' and 'dangerous', and listed in Appendix 6 under Groups A and B respectively must not be released into the sea. In addition, the depositing of non-biodegradable substances in the sea is prohibited.

Obligations are imposed on new ships of various descriptions regarding maintenance, certification and rules regarding sewage.

The rules also regulate aspects of the operation of platform installations and other similar structures.

The appendices to the marine environment are as follows:

  • Appendix 1 is an example of the international certificate for the prevention of oil pollution;
  • Appendix 2 is an example form for the reporting of oil pollution;
  • Appendix 3 is an example form for the registration of oil for tankers;
  • Appendix 5 is an example form for the registration of a ship carrying harmful products;
  • Appendix 7 is an example of the international certificate for the prevention of sewage pollution;
  • Appendix 8 describes those pollutants which are biodegradable and may be disposed of in the sea; and
  • Appendix 9 lists the pollutants that are not biodegradable.

Handling of Dangerous Substances and Waste

A licence must be obtained from the following authorities for the trading in or handling of dangerous substances and waste (including medical waste):

  • the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of the Interior, the Ministry of Finance and Industry, the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries or the municipality (for chemical products);
  • the Ministry of Health or the municipality (for dangerous medical waste);
  • the municipality or the Federal Environmental Agency (for other dangerous waste).

Generally, the authorities are obliged to:

  • establish appropriate licensing departments;
  • provide information on dangerous materials;
  • cooperate with each other and international bodies, and implement necessary measures at national level;
  • review applications for licences and grant licences accordingly;
  • examine dangerous materials and establish how dangerous they are by carrying out appropriate tests;
  • coordinate with the appropriate state bodies regarding studies on pollutants;
  • increase awareness of the dangers of pollution resulting from the use of dangerous materials; and
  • impose any other rules or conditions that the municipality or ministries deem necessary in coordination with the Federal Environmental Agency.

Information that must be submitted when applying for a licence includes:

  • the name and nationality of the establishment;
  • the location and surface area of the establishment;
  • security arrangements undertaken by the establishment;
  • a description of the type of trading or handling to be undertaken; and
  • the type of materials used, among other things.

Before a licence may be granted, all necessary documentation must be provided. It must show that the work to be undertaken under the licence will not result in pollution to the environment, among other things.

The rules lay down conditions for the importation, filling, transportation and storage of dangerous chemicals. Conditions and rules are imposed for the management of dangerous waste, including generation, collection, transport and treatment. Other provisions govern the management of medical waste.

Appendix 1 defines 'dangerous materials'.

Appendix 2 defines 'medical waste' and the manner in which it must be treated.

Rules for the Evaluation of Environmental Impact

Licence applicants wishing to begin or alter a project, activity or work in the state must obtain environmental clearance from the appropriate agency or authority. The documentation listed in Appendix 3 of the rules must be submitted, which includes a description of the project and its goal, viability and effect. Applicants must show the effects of their project on the health of human beings, animals and plants, and nearby areas and buildings. Long-term effects must also be assessed. The agency or authority may request documents in addition to those listed in Appendix 3.

Once an application is submitted, the relevant body may:

  • approve the project, activity or alteration suggested on the basis that no environmental effects will result;
  • issue environmental clearance after undertaking certain environmental procedures and arrangements;
  • issue environmental clearance on condition that the applicant undertakes certain environmental procedures and arrangements;
  • postpone the issuance of environmental clearance until the applicant submits a study on the environmental effects; or
  • reject the application.

Appendix 1 contains a list of fields of projects in which an environmental study must be undertaken prior to commencement or alteration.

Appendix 2 contains the application form to be submitted to obtain environmental clearance.

Pesticides and Fertilizers

Importing and trading in the chemicals listed in Appendix 1 is strictly forbidden.

Any chemical mentioned in Appendix 2 may be traded or imported subject to written clearance from the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries and under strict supervision. They may not be sold in general trading.

The rules specify the procedure for trading and importing chemicals, which includes obtaining a licence and listing information on containers.

The conditions for importing the chemicals depend on their liquidity, each being subject to different conditions.

Registration is forbidden unless the necessary tests have been undertaken. Tests must be carried out according to the procedure outlined in the rules.

For further information on this topic please contact Peter Michelmore or Patrick Oufi at Al-Sayegh Richards Butler by telephone (+971 2 631 3010) or by fax (+971 2 631 2155) or by email ([email protected] or [email protected]).