The U.S. EPA has released the 2013 Draft Vessel General Permit (VGP), effective December 19, 2013, replacing the current Vessel General Permit from 2008. The most significant changes introduced by the 2013 permit deal with ballast water discharge requirements.
The new requirements are consistent with the ballast water discharge standards proposed by the Coast Guard in its ballast water rulemaking. The Draft VGP would require vessels to install ballast water treatment systems, beginning January 1, 2012 for new vessels and by the first scheduled dry docking after January 1, 2014 or 2016 (depending on ballast water capacity).
The EPA also issued a 2013 Draft Small Vessel General Permit (SVGP), applicable to commercial (not recreational) vessels less than 79 feet in length. In general, the SVGP requires boat operators to exercise good seamanship and boat keeping to minimize discharges, and includes a requirement to conduct and maintain a record of quarterly inspections.
Information on submitting public comments, as well as public meetings and a planned upcoming webcast in the latter half of January, is available on the EPA’s VGP website.© 2013 Varnum LLP