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Town Hall Meeting on EPA's Final Vessel Discharge Rules

12 January 2009
Presenters: Barry M. Hartman
On December 18, 2008, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency issued its final permit under the  Clean Water Act that governs which pollutants may be discharged into U.S. waters from the incidental operations of vessels.

Beginning on February 6, 2009, vessels ranging from large cruise ships to barges, tankers and many recreational vessels will have to meet certain requirements to ensure that the discharges from those vessels do not contain excessive pollutants.  Ballast water, graywater, bilge water, deck runoff and engine cooling water are only a few of the 26 discharges subject to this proposed rule. For the first time, vessel records of these discharges and efforts to prevent them will be available to the public, and both the federal government and private citizens will have the authority to enforce these requirements.  These new requirements include best management practices and standards that differ depending on the type of discharge and the type of vessel.  Recordkeeping requirements, self reporting, training and other obligations are imposed on vessel owners and operators.  Noncompliance imposes additional reporting and remediation obligations.  Administrative, civil and criminal penalties can be imposed, as can jail time for negligent or knowing violations.  Third party monitors and court ordered environmentally beneficial projects can be required.

This webcast indentifed the many issues that vessel operators must consider in achieving compliance and addressing noncompliance situations including:

  • What are the discharges that must be managed?
  • When must compliance be achieved?
  • What strategies might work to achieve compliance?
  • When is a best management practice that addresses a particular discharge acceptable?
  • How is compliance verified? 
  • What are the reporting obligations?
  • What are the consequences for violations?

Click here to access an archived version of the webinar.