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EPA: New vessel discharge rule in works

Written by Nick Blenkey
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The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) yesterday proposed standards to reduce the environmental impact of discharges, such as ballast water, that are incidental to the normal operation of commercial vessels. When finalized, says EPA, the new rule will streamline the current patchwork of federal, state, and local requirements that apply to the commercial vessel community and will better protect U.S. waters.

EPA is proposing to establish national standards of performance for incidental discharges from commercial vessels as required under the Vessel Incidental Discharge Act (VIDA). The proposed rule includes discharge-specific standards for 20 different types of vessel equipment and treatment systems, as well as general performance standards that would apply more broadly to the full range of incidental discharges.

EPA’s proposed standards would apply to:

  • Commercial vessels greater than 79 feet in length.
  • Other non-recreational, non-Armed Forces vessels, such as research and emergency rescue vessels.
  • Ballast water only from small vessels (vessels less than 79 feet in length) and fishing vessels of all sizes.

The proposed rule also outlines procedures for states working through EPA or the U.S. Coast Guard to seek more stringent requirements, request emergency orders, or apply for no-discharge zones for one or more of the incidental discharges in any or all state waters.

EPA will accept comment on the proposal for 30 days, following publication in the Federal Register.

  • You can see a prepublication version of the proposed rule HERE
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