Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Water Pollution Prevention

The Refuse Act of 1899 and the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships (33 USC: 1901-1911) prohibit the throwing, discharge, or depositing of any refuse matter of any kind (including trash, garbage, oil, and other liquid pollutants) into the waters of the U.S. (from the shoreline to a distance of three miles). The Federal Water Pollution Control Act prohibits the discharge of oil or hazardous substances in quantities that may be harmful into U.S. navigable waters, the contiguous zone, and waters within 200 miles.

A person in charge of a vessel or an onshore or offshore facility is required to immediately report by telephone, radio telecommunication, or other similar means, any discharge of oil or other hazardous substance into the water. Reports should be made by calling toll-free to the National Pollution Response Center at (800) 424-8802. Penalty for discharging harmful oil is a maximum of $5,000 assessed against the person-in-charge of the source. Failure to notify the Coast Guard is a criminal penalty with a maximum $10,000 charge and/or one-year imprisonment. The owner/operator of the vessel or shore facility is liable for removal costs. Limits of liability are determined by vessel tonnage.

Certified marine sanitation devices (MSDs) are required on all vessels with installed toilet facilities. Direct discharge toilets are illegal unless the vessel is operating under a waiver granted by the Commandant (CG- 3PVC), U.S. Coast Guard, Washington, DC 20593-0001. This includes any equipment for installation onboard a vessel that is designed to receive, retain, treat, or discharge sewage and any process that treats such sewage. It does not include "portable toilets" which can be carried on and off the vessel. The discharge of untreated or inadequately treated sewage inside 3NM into U.S. waters is prohibited for all vessels, including foreign, federal, and state-owned vessels operating in U.S. waters. Noncompliance will result in civil penalties of up to $2,000. Manufacturers that sell MSDs or manufacturers of vessels with MSDs aboard that do not comply with these regulations are subject to fines of up to $5,000. More specific information concerning water pollution is contained in Title 33 Code of Federal Regulations, Parts 153, 155, and 159. All boaters must help to ensure that others obey the law and are encouraged to report polluting discharges to the nearest Coast Guard Office or call toll-free 1-800-424-8802. Please report the following information: 1) location 2) source 3) size 4) color 5) substance and 6) time observed. DO NOT attempt to take samples of any chemical discharge. If uncertain as to the identity of any discharge, avoid flame, physical contact, or inhalation of fumes. Law Enforcement 88 of 111 Chapter X

A vessel, except a vessel of less than 26 feet in length, must have a placard of at least 5 by 8 inches, made of durable material, fixed in a conspicuous place in each machinery space, or at the bilge and ballast pump control station, stating the following: DISCHARGE OF OIL PROHIBITED THE FEDERAL WATER POLLUTION CONTROL ACT PROHIBITS THE DISCHARGE OF OIL OR OILY WASTE INTO OR UPON THE NAVIGABLE WATERS OF THE UNITED STATES OR THE WATERS OF THE CONTIGUOUS ZONE IF SUCH DISCHARGE CAUSES A FILM OR SHEEN UPON OR DISCOLORATION OF THE SURFACE OF THE WATER OR CAUSES A SLUDGE OR EMULSION BENEATH THE SURFACE OF THE WATER. VIOLATORS ARE SUBJECT TO A PENALTY OF $5,000.
a. FACILITIES (33 CFR §154): Any facility that transfers oil in bulk to or from a vessel with a capacity of 250 or more barrels of oil must comply with these regulations. Operators of these facilities must submit letters of intent and operations manuals. Equipment requirements and transfer procedures are set forth in 33 CFR §154.
b. VESSELS (33 CFR §155): This section deals with vessel design, operations, and equipment requirements. No person may drain oil sumps, filters, strainers, or purifiers into a vessel’s bilge. Personnel qualifications and oil transfers procedures are also specified. Another part of this section requires all U.S. vessels of 26 ft or greater to display a placard.
c. TRANSFER OPERATIONS (33 CFR §156): This part deals with oil transfer operations, setting forth requirements for oil transfer, inspection procedures, equipment tests, and supervisory responsibilities.
d. TANK VESSELS (33 CFR §157): These regulations govern the design and operation of seagoing U.S. tank ships and barges of 150 gross tons and over that carry oil in the U.S. domestic trade. These regulations should reduce pollution from tank cleaning and deballasting operations. Copies of these regulations may be obtained from the nearest Government Printing Office or marine supply store. For any questions concerning these regulations contact your nearest Coast Guard Captain of the Port.

As of July 31, 1990, certain U.S. vessels are required to post garbage discharge placards for their crews and passengers. Certain other U.S. vessels are required to develop waste management plans and post garbage discharge placards for their crew and passengers. Placards are required for all manned U.S. vessels 26 feet or more in length. One or more placards must be placed in prominent locations and in sufficient numbers so they can be read by the crew and passengers. The placard locations must be readily accessible to the intended reader. Locations may include embarkation points, food service facilities, garbage handling spaces, and common spaces on deck. Coast Guard boarding officers must be satisfied that placards are located in such a manner, and in sufficient quantity, that every crew member and passenger aboard the vessel would have access to a placard. Boarding officers will have an ample supply of placards for public distribution during boardings. Individual mariners and small groups requesting placards may contact the Center for Marine Conservation, 312 Sutter Street, Suite 606, San Francisco, CA 94108, or call (415) 956-7441. A waste management plan and placard are required for all manned, ocean going U.S. vessels greater than 40 feet in length that are engaged in commerce, or equipped with a galley and berthing. The waste management plan must be developed in writing and meet the garbage discharge requirements of Title 33 Code of Federal Regulations subparts 151.51 through 151.77. Any person handling garbage on board the vessel must follow the provisions of the plan. The plan must describe procedures for collecting, processing, storing, and discharging garbage. The plan must designate the person who is in charge of carrying out the plan. The following is an example of a waste management plan for a vessel operating inside of three nautical miles from shore: "Solid waste management procedures. All garbage generated on the vessel is put in a garbage bag and disposed of in a trash container located at the port of call (or given to a tender vessel to take to shore for disposal). All crewmembers are to be oriented to the requirements of MARPOL Annex V by the captain. All new crewmembers will be specifically shown the garbage discharge placard and told to keep all refuse stowed on board. Passenger orientation to the vessel should include being shown the location of the trash receptacle, mention of refuse discharge regulations, and the name of the person charged with the Law Enforcement 89 of 111 Chapter X responsibility for carrying out the plan." Vessels operating beyond three nautical miles from shore must develop a plan that meets the requirements of MARPOL 73/78 Annex V, Garbage Discharge Restrictions. DISPOSAL OF PLASTICS AND OTHER GARBAGE IN U.S. WATERS New Federal regulations controlling disposal of garbage from vessels prohibit the discharge of plastic garbage anywhere in the marine environment. Plastic includes, but is not limited to: Plastic bags, Styrofoam, cups and lids, six pack holders, bottles, caps, buckets, shoes, milk jugs, egg cartons, stirrers, straws, synthetic fishing nets, ropes, lines, and "bio- or photo-degradable" plastics. These regulations also restrict the disposal of other types of garbage within specified distances from shore.

a. GARBAGE - all kinds of food, cargo, and maintenance waste, ashes or clinkers, and domestic waste (generated in living spaces aboard the vessel -- what we normally call trash). "Garbage" does not include fresh fish or fish parts, dishwater, and gray-water.
b. DISHWATER - the liquid residue from the manual or automatic washing of dishes and cooking utensils which have been pre-cleaned to the extent that any food particles adhering to them would not normally interfere with the operation of automatic dishwashers.
c. DUNNAGE - cargo associated waste.
d. GRAYWATER - drainage from a dishwasher, shower, laundry, bath, or washbowl and does not include drainage from toilets, urinals, hospitals, and cargo spaces. All U.S. vessels, wherever they operate, and foreign vessels operating in U.S. waters out to and including the Exclusive Economic Zone (200 miles) must comply with Annex V of MARPOL 73/78.