Vessel Discharges Require Permit Beginning 6 February, Fishing Vessels Excluded

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Posted by on December 27, 2008 at 01:34:36:

On 18 December the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a new National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) general permit to regulate 26 types of discharges from vessels operating in US waters. Approximately 61,000 domestically flagged commercial vessels and 8,000 foreign flagged vessels will need to comply with the permit starting 6 February 2009.

As a result of a court ruling, vessel owners and operators who have previously been exempt from Clean Water Act requirements for the last 35 years would have been required to obtain a permit as of 19 December 2008. The court subsequently extended the deadline to 6 February 2009.

The permit covers non-recreational vessels 79 feet in length or longer, such as cruise ships or oil and cargo tankers, but excludes fishing vessels of any length, unless they discharge ballast water. The new permit incorporates the Coast Guard’s mandatory ballast water management and exchange standards, and provides technology-based and water-quality-based effluent limits for other types of discharges, including deck runoff from rain or cleaning, ballast water used to stabilize ships and “gray water” from showers, sinks and laundry machines. It also establishes specific corrective actions, inspections and monitoring, record keeping and reporting requirements.

Earlier in the year, Congress responded to the court ruling in part by enacting a law to exempt recreational and fishing vessels from the permitting requirement and requiring further analysis and action by EPA and the Coast Guard. For more information about the permits go to www.epa.gov/npdes/vessels.

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