Monday, July 26, 2021

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EPA finalizes Vessel General Permit, protects water quality and reduces invasive species risk

Final National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System VGP On March 30, 2005, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California (in Northwest Environmental Advocates et al. v. EPA) ruled that the EPA regulation excluding discharges incidental to the normal operation of a vessel from NPDES permitting exceeded the Agency's authority under the Clean Water Act (CWA). On July 23, 2008, the Ninth Circuit upheld the decision. In response to this Court order, EPA developed the Vessel General Permit to regulate discharges from vessels. EPA signed the VGP on December 18, 2008, with an effective date of February 6, 2009. The VGP currently being finalized will replace the 2008 VGP when it expires on December 19, 2013.Summary of the Final 2013 VGP The 2013 final VGP will continue to regulate 26 specific discharge categories that were contained in the 2008 VGP, and would provide coverage for fish hold effluent in the event that a permitting moratorium currently in effect expires in December 2014. For the first time, the final VGP contains numeric ballast water discharge limits for most vessels. The permit generally aligns with requirements contained within the 2012 U.S. Coast Guard ballast water rulemaking. Additionally, the VGP contains requirements ...

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Invasive species ride tsunami debris to US

When a floating dock the size of a boxcar washed up on a sandy beach in Oregon, beachcombers got excited because it was the largest piece of debris from last year's tsunami in Japan to show up on the US West Coast.But scientists worried it represented a whole new way for invasive species of seaweed, crabs and other marine organisms to break the earth's natural barriers and further muck up the West Coast's marine environments. And more invasive species could be hitching rides on tsunami debris expected to arrive in the weeks and months to come."We know extinctions occur with invasions," said John Chapman, assistant professor of fisheries and invasive species specialist at Oregon State University's Hatfield Marine Science Center. "This is like arrows shot into the dark. Some of them could hit a mark."Though the global economy has accelerated the process in recent decades by the sheer volume of ships, most from Asia, entering West Coast ports, the marine invasion has been in full swing since 1869, when the transcontinental railroad brought the first shipment of East Coast oysters packed in seaweed and mud to San Francisco, said Andrew Cohen, director of the Center for Research on Aquatic Bioinvasions ...

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New Ballast Water Rule Targets Invasive Species

New Rules Seek to Prevent Invasive Stowaways Nearly a quarter-century has passed since an oceangoing ship from Europe docked somewhere in the Great Lakes and discharged ballast water carrying tiny but tenacious zebra mussel larvae from Europe.Within a few years after they turned up in Lake St. Clair, between Lakes Huron and Erie, the small freshwater mussels and their larger and even more destructive cousins, quagga mussels, had coated lakebeds throughout the region, clogging intake valves and pipes at power, water treatment and manufacturing plants.The filter-feeding mussels have since helped to upend the ecosystems of the Great Lakes, fouling beaches, promoting the growth of poisonous algae and decimating some native fish populations by eating the microscopic free-floating plant cells on which their food web depends."They didn't just spread - they completely colonized the Great Lakes," said Andrew Buchsbaum, director of the National Wildlife Federation's Great Lakes office.Yet it was not until last month that the Coast Guard issued a federal rule requiring oceangoing freighters entering American waters to install onboard treatment systems to filter and disinfect their ballast water. The regulation, which largely parallels a pending international standard and another planned by the Environmental Protection Agency, sets an upper limit ...

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