On December 29, 2008, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a notice stating that it had finalized the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Vessel General Permit (VGP) program. The VGP program regulates discharges into waters of the United States that are incidental to the normal operation of a vessel (otherwise known as “incidental discharges”). The program applies to incidental discharges of non-recreational vessels with a length of 79 feet or longer, except for commercial fishing vessels. For ballast water discharges only, the program applies to all non-recreational vessels (including commercial fishing vessels and vessels with a length of less than 79 feet). All covered vessels were automatically included in the VGP program when it became effective on February 19, 2009 and were required to comply with its discharge restrictions as of that date. Larger vessels, defined as those of greater than or equal to 300 gross tons or having a ballast water capacity of at least eight cubic meters, were required, though to submit a Notice of Intent (NOI) in order to remain in compliance. The NOI must be submitted between June 19 and September 19, 2009. Thus, owners and operators of these vessels have basically one month left in which to collect the necessary information and submit the NOI. Failure to submit the NOI in a timely manner can lead to a prohibition against operation of the vessel in waters of the United States.
(Source: Bryant’s Maritime News)