If you are the owner/operator of vessels trading to the United States, you should be aware of the imminent new environmental requirements set out below. These requirements have already been explained in Club circulars, but you may find it helpful to have this overview where they are collected in one place. If you have not yet considered how to comply, now is the time to act.
Owners/operators of any non-tank vessel of 400 gross tons or more that operates on the navigable waters of the US must submit a Vessel Response Plan (VRP) by 30 January 2014. [The US Coast Guard “Final Rule” establishing this requirement was published on 30th September 2013 (Federal Register, Vol. 78, No. 189 )]
The main requirements of the VRP are: contracting with an SMFF (salvage marine firefighting) company and an OSRO (oil spill response) company.
SMFF: Please refer to Circular 14/13 “United States Non-Tank Vessel Response Plans” of 16 October 2013 for detailed guidance on contracting with an SMFF. You will find in this Circular the names of the SMFFs and their contracts which have been confirmed to be in conformity with International Group (IG) guidelines.
OSRO: Please refer to Circular 18/13 “United States Non-Tank Vessel Response Plans”and Circular 19/13 “United States Non-Tank Vessel Response Plans-OSRO Contracts” for detailed guidance on contracting with OSROs. MSRC and NRC are the two nationwide OSROs who can provide for oil spill cleanup services required by the law. Both MSRC and NRC have contracts which have been confirmed to be in conformity with IG guidelines.
Don’t Delay. The deadline for compliance is now pressing, especially with the interval of Christmas and New Year celebrations. A number of consultants and service providers have advised that owners should be negotiating contracts now in order to be sure that they are provided with the services necessary for compliance by 31st January 2014.
In November 2008, the Club issued Circular 16/08 advising that all qualifying vessels with discharge of pollutants incidental to their normal operation into the US waters (three miles territorial sea or inland water) must comply with the EPA's Vessel General Permit requirements from 19th December 2008 and obtain coverage under the VGP through filing a Notice of Intent.
However, the 2008 VGP requirement will expire on 19 December 2013 and earlier this year, the EPA issued new 2013 VGP requirements, to apply for another five years starting from 19 December 2013.
The UK Club’s website has accordingly drawn Members’ attention to the new 2013 VGP requirements.
Owners or operators of vessels of 300 or more gross tons, or which have a capacity to hold or discharge more than 8 cubic metres of ballast water, must comply with the 2013 VGP requirement and must submit a Notice of Intent using EPA's electronic system no later than seven days prior to any discharge in US waters. Owners of qualifying vessels under the 2008 VGP should therefore submit their electronic Notice of Intent before 12 December 2013 if they wish to ensure continued coverage under 2013 VGP from 19 December 2013.
Please refer to Circular 20/13 “United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) 2013 Vessel General Permit (VGP) requirements” for detailed guidance.
The Club’s special section “US Vessel Response Plan compliance” on the website (www.ukpandi.com) compiles the circulars, contracts, advisories and other information such as US Coast Guard FAQs, weblinks etc. QI firms such as Gallagher Marine Services, provide consultancy support for owners who need to file these plans and make the other essential arrangements. The UK Club can advise Members individually and help guide their efforts towards compliance. Please do not hesitate to contact Dr. Chao Wu at the Club’s London office if you need further information.
EPA - Environmental Protection Agency (United States agency)
IG - International Group (of P&I Clubs)
MSRC - Marine Spill Response Corporation
NRC - National Response Corporation
NTVRP - Non-tank Vessel Response Plan
OSROs - Oil Spill Response Companies
QI - Qualified Individuals
SMFF - Salvage, Marine Firefighting
USCG - United States Coast Guard
VGP - Vessel General Permit
VRP - Vessel Response Plan