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USCG Mandates Vessel Response Plan Compliance by Feb 22, 2011.

  
  
  

The U.S. Coast Guard’s new regulations to improve pollution-response preparedness for vessels carrying or handling oil upon the navigable waters of the United States goes into effect February 22, 2011.

This final rule, applicable upon all navigable waters of the U.S. including the exclusive economic zone and adjoining shorelines, updates Coast Guard requirements for oil-spill removal equipment associated with vessel response plans and marine transportation-related facility response plans.  

The new rules directly regulate vessels carrying oil in bulk and marine transportation related (MTR) oil facilities that are required to have an oil response plan under the current Vessel Response Plan rules. These regulatory updates add requirements for plan holders to use new response technologies and revise methods and procedures for oil spill response. Vessel Response Plan holders must ensure dispersant service providers meet regulatory response requirements. Instead of detailed equipment lists, plan holders can reference OSROs that provide dispersants if USCG classified and whose availability has been ensured by contract or other approved means.

The following additional American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) are applicable to vessels:

  • ASTM F1413–07, Standard Guide for Oil Spill Dispersant Application Equipment: Boom and Nozzle Systems, incorporation by reference approved for §155.1050.
  •  ASTM F1737–07, Standard Guide for Use of Oil Spill Dispersant-Application Equipment During Spill Response: Boom and Nozzle Systems, incorporation by reference approved for §155.1050.
  • ASTM F1779–08, Standard Practice for Reporting Visual Observations of Oil on Water, incorporation by reference approved for §155.1050.

 The following are some of the additional updated requirements for vessels. A detailed list of the new requirements can be found at: http://edocket.access.gpo.gov/2009/pdf/E9-20311.pdf

  • § 155.230 Emergency control systems for tank barges- Each operator of the system should wear a safety belt or harness secured by a lanyard to a lifeline, drop line, or fixed structure such as a welded padeye, if the sea or the weather warrants this precaution. Each safety belt, harness, lanyard, lifeline, and drop line must meet the specifications of ANSI A10.14
  • 155.235 Emergency towing capability for oil tankers- An emergency towing arrangement shall be fitted at both ends on board all oil tankers of not less than 20,000 deadweight tons (dwt), constructed on or after September 30, 1997. For oil tankers constructed before September 30, 1997, such an arrangement shall be fitted at the first scheduled dry-docking, but not later than January 1, 1999. The design and construction of the towing arrangement shall be in accordance with IMO resolution MSC.35(63)
  • 155.1035 Response plan requirements for manned vessels carrying oil as a primary cargo-

o     The format and content of the ship-to-ship transfer procedures must be consistent with the Ship-to-Ship Transfer Guide (Petroleum) published jointly by the International Chamber of Shipping and the Oil Companies International Marine Forum (OCIMF).

o     For vessels that handle, store, or transport Group I through Group V petroleum oils, the appendix must also separately list the resource providers identified to provide the salvage, vessel firefighting, and lightering capabilities.

o     For vessels that handle, store, or transport Group II through Group IV petroleum oils, and that operate in waters where dispersant use pre-authorization agreements exist, the appendix must also separately list the resource providers and specific resources, including appropriately trained dispersant-application personnel, necessary to provide, if appropriate, the dispersant capabilities required in this subpart. All resource providers and resources must be available by contract or other approved means.

o     The appendix must also separately list the resource providers and specific resources necessary to provide oil-tracking capabilities required in this subpart.

  •  155.1040 Response plan requirements for unmanned vessels carrying oil as a primary cargo-

o       The appendix must include a separate listing of the resource providers identified to provide the salvage, vessel firefighting, and lightering capabilities.

o       The appendix must include a separate listing of the resource providers and specific resources necessary to provide, if appropriate, the dispersant capabilities.

o       The appendix must include a separate listing of the resource providers and specific resources necessary to provide oil-tracking capabilities.

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  • 155.1050 Response plan development and evaluation criteria for vessels carrying groups I through IV petroleum oil as a primary cargo.

o       The owner or operator of a vessel carrying groups II through IV petroleum oil as a primary cargo that operates in any inland, nearshore, or offshore area with pre-authorization for dispersant use must identify in their response plan, and ensure availability through contract or other approved means, of response resources capable of conducting dispersant operations within those areas.

o       The owner or operator of a vessel carrying groups I through IV petroleum oil as a primary cargo must identify in the response plan, and ensure their availability through contract or other approved means, response resources necessary to provide aerial oil tracking to support oil spill assessment, and cleanup activities. Vessels operating on inland rivers are not required to comply with this directive.

o       Aerial oil tracking resources must be capable of arriving at the site of a discharge in advance of the arrival of response resources identified in the plan for tiers 1, 2, and 3 Worst Case Discharge response times, and for a distance up to 50 nautical miles from shore (excluding inland rivers).

o       The Coast Guard will continue to evaluate the environmental benefits, cost efficiency and practicality of increasing mechanical recovery capability requirements. This continuing evaluation is part of the Coast Guard's long-term commitment to achieving and maintaining an optimum mix of oil spill response capability across the full spectrum of response modes. As best available technology demonstrates a need to evaluate or change mechanical recovery capacities, a review of cap increases and other requirements contained within this subpart may be performed.

  • Appendix B to part 155 Determining and Evaluating Required Response Resources for vessel Response Plans-

o       If the required capacity exceeds the applicable cap, then a vessel owner or operator must contract for at least the quantity of resources required to meet the cap, but must identify sources of additional resources as indicated in §155.1050(p). For a vessel that carries multiple groups of oil, the required effective daily recovery capacity for each group is calculated and summed before applying the cap.

o       A vessel owner or operator must plan either for a dispersant capacity to respond to a vessel's worst case discharge (WCD) of oil, or for the amount of the dispersant resource capability as required by §155.1050(k)(3) of this chapter, whichever is the lesser amount. When planning for the cumulative application capacity that is required, the calculations should account for the loss of some oil to the environment due to natural dissipation causes (primarily evaporation).

Affected plan holders should review the final rules and take all necessary measures to ensure that an updated response plans are submitted by February 22, 2011 and in compliance.

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