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March 9, 2010

EPA seeks comment on vessel discharge study

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is seeking public comments on a draft report that, when made final, will provide Congress with information it may use for the regulation of incidental discharges from certain vessels.

This study was conducted to meet the obligations of EPA under Public Law (P.L.) 110-299 (July 31, 2008). The law provided for a two-year moratorium on National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permitting of discharges from commercial fishing vessels, regardless of size, and other non-recreational vessels less than 79-feet long that were subject to the 40 CFR 122.3(a) exclusion. Except for ballast water discharges, discharges from these vessels are not currently eligible for coverage under the EPA's Vessel General Permit (VGP).

During the moratorium, EPA was tasked with conducting the study, which included fishing vessels, tugboats, water taxis, tour boats, towing and salvage vessels, small research vessels, a fire boat and a supply boat.

Incidental vessel discharges including deck run-off, gray water and other types of discharges may have a potential negative impact on water quality.

The draft report summarizes the primary pollutant concentrations in the discharges sampled and evaluates the potential environmental impact of these discharges on large water bodies. For the draft report, EPA sampled wastewater discharges and gathered shipboard process information from 61 vessels. Vessels were sampled in 15 separate cities and towns in nine states across multiple geographic regions.

Public comments on the draft report, "Study of Discharges Incidental to Normal Operation of Commercial Fishing Vessels and Other Non-Recreational Vessels Less than 79 Feet," will be accepted for 30 days following publication in the Federal Register. EPA will then consider the comments and finalize the report for submission to Congress.

More at http://cfpub.epa.gov/npdes/vessels/reportcongress.cfm


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