After attending the VIDA webinar the EPA and the USCG co-arranged, Mouawad Consulting has summarised the latest information. Some of the highlights of the discussion regard the fact that the new regulation is not expected to be enforced before December 2022, and that standards are likely to be technology-based and not risk-based.
California’s ballast water management regulations are included in the Marine Invasive Species Act, which can be found within the California Public Resources Code and title 2 California Code of Regulations. These regulations are implemented by the California State Lands Commission, the West P&I Club says. Fines for breaching these regulations are based on a ‘per tank’ basis and can be significant.
On December 4, 2018, US President Trump signed the USCG Authorization Act, S. 140, a new bill which includes measures for USCG operations while incorporates the Vessel Incidental Discharge Act. Namely, with this act, USCG is required to draft a policy letter for testing BWMS within 180 days, followed by a 90 day comment period. Totally, the USCG has 360 days after the date of enactment of the Act to come up with a final policy. What is more, this bill has wide implications on US EPA VGP, due in March 2019.
President Trump signed on December 4 the law S. 140, the “Frank LoBiondo Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2018”. This law authorizes appropriations for the USCG and for the Federal Maritime Commission through Fiscal Year 2019, reauthorizes the Department of Commerce’s hydrographic services program administered by NOAA through Fiscal Year 2023, and establishes uniform standards for the management of vessel discharge.
The US Senate has passed the Coast Guard Reauthorization bill 94-6, that provides several regulatory updates for the US fishing sector. Namely, the bill permanently exempts fishing vessels from EPA water discharge requirements. The bill also increased the size of new vessels that must be maintained to class standards.
On 14 November, the US Senate passed the Vessel Incidental Discharge Act (VIDA) as part of the USCG Reauthorization Act with a vote of 94 to 6, paving the way for the harmonization of state and federal regulations for vessel ballast water discharges in the United States. In the meantime, the move is considered as a means of harmonization of the USCG policy approach with that of IMO.
USCG reported that since 2015, there has been a dramatic increase in the volume of ballast water being treated before being discharged into US waters and provides a list of type approved BWMSs.
California State Lands Commission noted that vessels arriving at a California port must have an alternative, environmentally sound method of ballast water management that has been approved by the Commission or the USCG, as being at least as effective as ballast water exchange.
The North P&I Club says that US is ‘getting tough’ on Ballast Water extension. USCG officers focus on BWM compliance issues during their routing PSC inspections. The Club advises that all ships calling at US ports and intending to discharge ballast water must either carry out ballast water exchange or treatment, in addition to fouling and sediment management.
USCG issued the latest update (March 2017) for the procedures for requesting extensions for compliance with BWM regulations in response to hundreds of extension requests and dozens of questions received by the Coast Guard, which indicate a widespread misunderstanding of the previously issued guidance, and an associated need for additional clarity and certainty for all stakeholders.
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