In a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM), the USCG proposes to clarify and codify a policy it issued in April 1999 regarding phase-out dates for single hull tank vessels.
OPA 90 includes requirements for double hull tank vessels and phase-out schedules for all single hull tank vessels operating in U.S. waters. Tank vessel owners are required to remove single hull tank vessels from service on a specific date, depending on such factors as the vessel's gross tonnage, age and hull configuration.
These timetables are found in USCG regulations, and allow a tank vessel with double sides or a double bottom to remain in service longer than a vessel with a full single hull. In mid-1998, the USCG was asked to clarify whether retrofitting a single hull vessel with double sides or a double bottom would allow a vessel owner to take advantage of a later phase-out date.
After requesting and reviewing public comments on the subject, the USCG published a notice of policy in April 1999 stating modification of a single hull tank vessel to include only double sides or a double bottom would not change the tank vessel's original phase-out date.
Consistent with this position, the NPRM amends two notes. Both notes state the configuration of a single hull tank vessel as of August 18, 1990, whether single hull, single hull with double sides, or single hull with a double bottom, is the configuration to be used to determine the vessel's phase-out date. Conversion of the vessel after August 18, 1990, will not change the vessel's phase-out date, unless a full double hull is added. The USCG is accepting comments on the NPRM until April 17.
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