Discharge of harmful substances

Regulations cover what types of discharges are permitted, prohibited or subject to a marine discharge consent issued by the EPA.

The regulations

Any discharge of harmful substances needs to comply with the Discharge and Dumping Regulations 2015.

Any drilling fluids or hazardous substances that are discharged to the marine environment require a discharge consent. This a non-notified process, but does require sufficient information about the properties of the hazardous substance for the EPA to assess the environmental impact.

The discharge of harmful substances in the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and Continental Shelf (CS) is regulated under the:

  • Exclusive Economic Zone and Continental Shelf (Environmental Effects) Act 2012 (EEZ Act)
  • Exclusive Economic Zone and Continental Shelf (Discharge and Dumping) Regulations 2015
  • Exclusive Economic Zone and Continental Shelf (Environmental Effects - Permitted Activities) Regulation 2013.
Complying with the regulations Plus

Deemed marine discharge consents

If you are an existing petroleum operator who has a discharge management plan (DMP) approved by Maritime New Zealand, some transitional provisions may apply to you. The following parts of your discharge management plan (DMP) will collectively be deemed as a marine discharge consent:

  • Parts relating to the harmful substances held on board and those that are discharged
  • The method for measuring the oil content of discharges
  • Procedures for reporting oil spills
  • Parts relating to environmental monitoring.

Your DMP will be treated as a deemed marine discharge consent for its remaining duration. Some of the Part 200 Marine Protection Rules (MPR) that applied to your DMP will become conditions of the deemed marine discharge consent. The EPA will monitor compliance with your deemed marine discharge consent and the associated conditions.

Changes to the discharges of harmful substances

If you hold a deemed discharge consent and plan to make changes to the discharged harmful substances listed on your consent, you need to apply for a marine discharge consent. If you already hold a marine discharge consent, changes to harmful substances that are discharged can be made through a change of condition application. A description of the hazardous substance(s) that includes physical, chemical, toxic and ecotoxic properties will ensure timely processing of the application.

Emergency spill response plan

All offshore installations require an emergency spill response plan (ESRP) for spills of harmful substances. These are substances that are ecotoxic to aquatic organisms and hazardous for the purposes of the Hazardous Substances (Minimum Degrees of Hazard) Regulations 2001. The ESRP excludes oil, which is covered under Maritime New Zealand's oil spill contingency plan.

The EPA has developed an expedited process to assess changes to the inventory of hazardous substances for approved Emergency Spill Response Plans (ESRP). Providing all the information requested on the ESRP Application Form for hazardous substances will ensure timely processing of these changes. If you need to make any changes to the contact details or personnel responsibilities contained with your ESRP, you must notify the EPA in writing and provide the updated information. This process can be completed by email.

Emergency Spill Response Plan (ESRP) application form (docx 365KB)

Permitted discharges of harmful substances

The Discharge and Dumping Regulations 2015 permit certain discharges of harmful substances, including oil, which otherwise are restricted by the EEZ Act. To be able to undertake a permitted discharge, you must comply with the conditions set out in the Discharge and Dumping Regulations 2015. The following discharges are permitted under the Regulations:

  • The discharge of harmful substances into a petroleum well that are generated during, or used for, the operation of an offshore installation
  • The discharge of oil mixed with water from a machinery space on an offshore installation
  • The discharge of seawater contaminated with oil from operational purposes, such as produced oil tank cleaning water, produced oil tank hydrostatic testing water, and water from the ballasting of a produced oil tank to carry out inspection by rafting.
Marine discharge consent for discharge of harmful substances Plus

Any discharge of harmful substances needs to comply with the Discharge and Dumping Regulations 2015. Any drilling fluids or hazardous substances that are discharged to the marine environment require a discharge consent. Sufficient information about the properties of the hazardous substance are required for the EPA to assess the environmental impact.

Marine discharge consents

The EEZ Act regulates the discharge of harmful substances into the EEZ and CS from structures, submarine pipelines and ships. Discharges may require a marine discharge consent. Prior to discharging or submitting a consent, contact the EEZ application team to discuss your activities.

Updated guidance documents reflecting the amendments to the EEZ Act will be available soon.

When lodging a marine discharge consent application with the EPA, you must:

  • fill out the prescribed form
  • fully describe your proposal 
  • provide an impact assessment that meets the requirements of section 39 of the EEZ Act.

Apply for a marine discharge consent

Changes to your hazardous substances list

If you made changes to your list of harmful substances you will need to update your ESRP.

Notifying permitted discharges to the EPA Plus

The Discharge and Dumping Regulations 2015 contain requirements for every offshore installation to record information on the following discharge activities:

  • Discharge of harmful substances into a petroleum well.
  • Oil movement during machinery space, cargo and ballast operations.
  • Discharge or other disposal of garbage.

Forms to assist you with meeting these record-keeping rules are available at the links below:

Down well discharge forms and oil record books must be provided to us within timeframes specified in the regulations.