Two years ago the U.S. adopted international standards for regulating exhaust emissions from ships.
On Monday, the Coast Guard and Environmental Protection Agency agreed on what roles they will play in enforcing Annex VI of the International Convention for Prevention of Pollutions from Ships.
The Annex VI allows nations to establish “emission control areas” as a way of reducing nitrous and sulfur oxides, and particulate carbon from ships’ exhaust that threaten public health. Vessels will be required to burn cleaner fuel inside the ECA, or install onboard systems to clean the exhaust from burning bunker fuel.
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Enforcement of the clean-air rules begins in 2012. Monday’s agreement defines the division of labor between the Coast Guard and EPA to prevent possible overlap.
The Coast Guard’s job will be to inspect vessels’ engines for compliance during onboard inspections, said Wayne Lundy, and engineer with the Coast Guard’s marine safety program.
Lundy said the memorandum of understanding “signals to the maritime community that far as onboard implementation, they will see a Coast Guard presence on ships, and not an EPA presence. It gives a comfort level to the maritime community. They’re more accustomed to dealing with the Coast Guard.”
If inspectors find that a marine engine is not in compliance, they will notify EPA and together the two agencies will determine how to enforce the standards. Vessels may be detained, and owners could face monetary penalties.
The U.S. in 2009 established its emission control boundaries 200 miles offshore on the Atlantic and Pacific coasts. Canada extended the zones into its waters.
Next month, the U.S. will propose an ECA for Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands at the annual meeting of the International Maritime Organization’s Marine Environment Protection Committee.
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