Uncontrolled degassing is the process of letting any lingering vapours in the tanks of ships carrying oil or certain liquid chemicals into the open air. Floating degassing happens on a regular basis in an uncontrolled way in Dutch rivers. The official position of successive Dutch governments has been that the international legal framework on inland navigation does not allow individual states to regulate floating degassing unilaterally. According to various Minister for Water and Infrastructure the Netherlands should wait until the 2017 Amendments to the Convention on the Collection, Deposit, and Reception of Waste Generated During Navigation on the Rhine and Other Inland Waterways (CDNI) are ratified by all member states and enter into force for implementing a ban on floating degassing on Dutch inland waterways. This article examines the applicable international legal framework on floating degassing. It finds that the international legal framework does offer governments adequate policy space to take unilateral domestic actions to regulate floating degassing to protect public health and the environment. The international legal agreements referred to by the Dutch government to justify its inability to regulate contain no specific provisions prohibiting states to regulate floating degassing. Even more, existing international legal rules on degassing include specific provisions granting states the right to regulate to protect public health and the environment. The article further shows that there are valid legal arguments under international human rights law for the claim that the Government is actually required to regulate floating degassing to protect the right to life and the respect for private and family life of its residents, as guaranteed by the European Convention on Human Rights.
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