For Commercial Vessels and Certain Fishing Vessels operationg in US Waters

test/US-states.pngThe US Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA's) second Vessel General Permit (VGP orPermit) for discharges incidental to the normal operation of vessels will take effect 19 December2013.

The Republic of Marshall Islands (RMI) has issued Marine Safety Advisory No.70-13 reggarding the new VGP to provide information for RMI flagged commercial vessels.

The Republic of Marshall Inslads flagged commercial vessels operatingunder a 2008 Permit or meeting the Permit applicability requirements and intending to trade toUS waters for the first time will need to submit an electronic Notice of Intent (eNOI) either by 12December 2013 for uninterrupted coverage or seven (7 days) prior to entering US territorialwaters (i.e., three (3) nautical miles from US baseline, including Great Lakes and inland waters).The 2013 VGP is valid for a period of five (5) years with the authorization to discharge expiringat midnight 19 December 2018.

A VGP is required for a commercial vessel with a documented length of 79 feet (24.08 m) ormore and that is either:

  • greater than or equal to 300 gross tons (GT) as established by the International TonnageConvention, 1969; or
  • has the capacity to hold or discharge more than eight (8) cubic meters (2113 gallons) ofballast water

The permit applies only to those vessels operating in a capacity as a means of transportation.Thus, vessels being used as an energy or mining facility, a storage facility, a seafood processingfacility or when secured to the bed of waters subject to the Permit or a buoy for the purpose ofmineral or oil exploration or development are not subject to the Permit unless they enter theterritorial waters (i.e., leave the contiguous zone) and are operating in a capacity as a means oftransportation (e.g., relocating between drill sites)

Vessel owners/operators should be aware that Section 1.4 of the VGP details the CWA civil andcriminal penalties that may result from violations of the Permit. It is also important to be awarethat the EPA recently adjusted its monetary penalties as follows:

  • Discharging pollutants without a NPDES permit (i.e., a VGP) or in violation of a NPDESpermit may result in a potential penalty of $187,500 per day.
  • Beginning 6 December 2013, civil penalties under Section 311 of the Clean Water Act willincrease from:
    • $1,100 to $2,100 for "reportable quantities" of each barrel of oil or each unit of hazardoussubstance;
    • $1,000 to $5,300 per barrel or unit in cases of "gross negligence" or "willful misconduct."
  • The total amount of administrative penalties for violations of either the CWA or Clean AirAct has increased to $320,000.

Please refer to RMI Marine Safety Advisory for more details

For more information on 2013 VGP please click at Safety4Sea article:

Key Resources for the New VGP