The U.S. Coast Guard issued a notice and is seeking comments relating to the recent legislative requirement for nontank vessels of 400 gross tons ITC and greater to have oil spill response plans (similar to those of tank vessels). The legislation, enacted August 9, 2004, requires nontank vessel response plans
(NTVRP) to be prepared and submitted to the Coast Guard no later than August 9, 2005. That is insufficient time for the agency to promulgate implementing legislation. The Coast Guard does not intend to enforce the requirement for a NTVRP until the regulations have been issued and are in effect. All covered vessels are, though, strongly encouraged to prepare and submit NTVRPs by July 9 to give the Coast Guard sufficient time to review the documents and issue interim authorization letters. Note: If a covered nontank vessel experiences
an oil spill in U.S. waters on or after August 9, 2005 and does not have a NTVRP in place, the response effort may not be as timely and the owner or operator may encounter increased damages and civil liability. 70 Fed. Reg. 36649 (HK Law).