Background and Overview of the 2013 Draft VGP
Good afternoon and welcome to today's webcast: The 2013 Draft Vessel General Permit and the Small Vessel General Permit. This webcast is sponsored by the EPA's Office of Water. I am Juhi Saxena with EPA and I will moderate today's session. Thank you all for joining us today. We will get started in a few moments. While we wait for others to join I would like to cover a few housekeeping items. The materials in this webcast has been reviewed by EPA staff for technical accuracy, however the views of the speakers and the speakers' organizations are their own and do not necessarily reflect those of EPA. Mention of any commercial enterprise, product, or publication does not mean that EPA endorses them.
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I think we are ready to kick off this session. We have two excellent speakers today. Our speakers are Ryan Albert and Robin Danesi. Dr. Ryan Albert is an Environmental Scientist in EPA's Water Permits Division. He is Technical Lead for the NPDES Vessel Permitting Program. In addition, to his work on EPA's vessel permits, he has led several largescale EPA efforts including EPA's Vessel's Report to Congress and developing EPAsponsored ballast water discharge studies. He received his Doctorate from George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia, and his undergraduate degree from Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia. Robin Danesi is EPA's National Vessel General Permit Implementation Manager and a member of the Pretreatment Team in the Office of Wastewater Management. Prior to coming to EPA's Office of Wastewater Management in 2009, Robin spent a decade in the Office of Analytical Services and Quality Assurance in EPA Region 3. In this capacity Robin worked to implement EPA's Quality Assurance Program across the Region and performed oversights and audits of data collection activities. She received her undergraduate degree from Virginia Tech and master's degree from Norfolk State University. We have a great presentation today so let's get started. I will now turn the presentation over to Dr. Ryan Albert.
Great, so thank you all very much for joining us today. There is quite a few of you on the other end of the computer here and we greatly appreciate you making time to hear our presentation. What we will be talking about today is are going to give some background on the NPDES permitting of discharges incidental to the normal operation of vessels. I will go through and discuss give an overview of the Draft 2013 Vessel General Permit and then my colleague Robin Danesi will go through and talk about and give an overview of the Draft 2013 Small Vessel General Permit.
Clean Water Act (CWA) Permit Basics
So diving right in, Clean Water Act's basics: the discharge of a pollutant is generally prohibited without a permit. We issue these permits with National Pollutant Discharge and Elimination System Permits and they are generally issued as individual permits or general permits. Now many of EPA's traditional permittees such as sewage treatment facilities received individual permits. However, many of the newer permittees such as vessels receive permit coverage under a general permit and EPA's Vessel General Permit issued in 2008, is an example of one of those. The permit term shall not exceed five years. This is why EPA's currently reissuing the 2008 Vessel General Permit proposing the 2013 Vessel General Permit. For all EPA issued permits, EPA also must seek State 401 certification and Coastal Zone Management Act concurrences. Now EPA is currently in the process of seeking certification from our states for the 2013 proposed general permit. For those of you familiar with the 2008 Vessel General Permit these state conditions were submitted and incorporated by EPA in Section 6 of the Vessel General Permit.
Establishing NPDES Effluent Limits
Now the way we establish the limits that we put into our permits are generally using one of two approaches. The first approach is establishing technologybased effluent limits and this is generally via the best available technology. In the case of the Vessel General Permit these are established on a best professional judgment basis using the best information available to EPA. We also establish water qualitybased effluent limits. And generally we express this in the Vessel General Permit as stringent as necessary to comply with applicable water quality standards. Now EPA and much of the leg work we did to develop the 2013 Vessel General Permit, particularly for ballast water, we designed many of the studies we conducted and sponsored to answer questions both for our technology based effluent limits and to answer questions for our water quality based effluent limits. I will discuss those issues here in just a moment.
Best Available Technology
So best available technology. EPA considers several factors when establishing best available technology and these do include the cost of achieving best available technology effluent reductions. The age of the equipment and facilities involved. So in this case the age of the vessels, the design of the vessels, and so on and so forth. We consider the processes employed. How does the technology or the practice work. We consider potential process changes. What has to change on board a vessel in the case of the VGP? And we also consider nonwater quality environmental impacts including energy requirements. In the case of ballast water for instance, for ballast water treatment will there be additional energy requirements needed for requiring treatment technologies on board vessels.
Now not all vessels are regulated under not all incidental discharges from vessels are regulated under the NPDES permit – permitting program or the Vessel General Permit. These include vessels operating as a means of transportation beyond the 3 nautical mile limit. The Vessel General Permit only extends out to the three nautical mile territorial sea. Additionally, there are some discharges from VGP vessels that are not covered by the VGP including sewage from these vessels which are regulated under Section 312 of the Clean Water Act. Additionally, Armed Forces vessels or vessels of the Armed Forces are not covered by the Vessel General Permit and are instead covered by Section 312 of the Clean Water Act.
Brief History and Key Dates
So in terms of a brief history of where we are. On September 18th, 2006, a US District Court issued an order revoking a longstanding EPA regulation 40 CFR 122.3(a) and made that revocation effective in 2008. This meant that all incidental discharges from vessels operating in any US water would need an NPDES permit as of December 19th, 2008. Now EPA released its first Vessel General Permit on December 18th, 2008, and due to a court order the compliance date was subsequently extended to February 6th, 2009, at which point any vessel subject to the NPDES program had to comply with the Vessel General Permit. Additional developments and some are of 2008 Congress passed two bills. Originally, that court order would subject all commercial and all recreational vessels to the NPDES program. Congress passed Public Law 110𤬐 also known as the Clean Boating Act in the summer 2008 which exempted all recreational vessels from NPDES permitting requirements and instead they will be regulated under Section 312 of the Clean Water Act. EPA is currently developing those regulations now. Public Law 110𤬛 subsequently extended by Public Law 115 I just forgot the number so one should always have the notes handy before talking about that. But this moratorium was subsequently extended until December 19th, 2013 – December 18th, 2013. This moratorium applies to vessels that are less than 79 feet and commercial fishing vessels regardless of size except for their ballast water discharges. Importantly, as I mentioned before on December 18, 2008, EPA finalized the first iteration of the Vessel General Permit.
Brief History and Key Dates
Now starting in 2009, EPA we realized that we would be reissuing the Vessel General Permit with a very short time period a short time horizon for us. So starting in 2009, we began developing the technical information needed for the next Vessel General Permit and will talk about two ballast water studies we conducted and my colleague, Robin Danesi, will discuss EPA's Vessel Report to Congress which we prepared.
On December 15, 2010, EPA hosted a listening session to collect additional information from our various stakeholders to be used for the next Vessel General Permit. We also opened a docket to collect information and as part of that we received over 4,500 comments which we reviewed all of them and the information was very useful so thank you to all of you who took time to submit comments to that docket.
On November 30th, 2011, we proposed the 2013 Vessel General Permit and the Small Vessel General Permit and are currently accepting comments on those permits until February 21st, 2012. By November 30th, 2012, EPA plans on finalizing the two permits so that our permittees will have plenty of time to come up to speed with the changes in the permit requirements in the VGP the 2008 VGP to the 2013 VGP and also people can get used to the requirements of the Small Vessel General Permit. By on December 19, 2013, both the Vessel General Permit and Small Vessel General Permit will become effective.
So what were our goals when we were issuing the Vessel General Permit and designing the Small Vessel General Permit? First and foremost, EPA is a sciencebased agency and we wanted to use the best available science to inform our determinations of appropriate limits that we would put in the permits. We also wanted to improve administrative efficiency where feasible. We wanted to make sure that the information EPA was gathering and the information the records we were requiring permittees to keep were useful both to permittees and to us here at the EPA. We also wanted, as part of that, to reduce permittee confusion on some of the conditions in the 2008 VGP and we believe we have done so successfully up to this point. Of course, we welcome your comments to that affect during our comment period. Finally, we wanted, as I mentioned before, we wanted to produce a permit for the nonrecreational nonmilitary vessels less than 79 feet in case the NPDES moratorium is not extended beyond December 18th, 2013. And in this permit, once again my colleague, Robin Danesi, will discuss the effluent limits are generally expressed as best management practices or BMPs.
So once again, the Vessel General Permit will be applicable to nonrecreational, nonmilitary vessels greater than 79 feet. Military vessels including the Navy and Coast Guard vessels are not covered and not impacted by these permit terms. We estimate that approximately 70,000 existing VGP vessels plus an additional 2,200 commercial fishing vessels larger than 79 feet would be covered by this permit. The small Vessel General Permit would cover nonrecreational; nonmilitary vessels less than 79 feet and we estimate that approximately 118,000𤩺,000 vessels would be covered by this permit.
VGP Key Improvements
So VGP. There are several changes to it and I am only going to highlight a few of those changes today. These key what we view as key improvements are dealing with ballast water discharges, exhaust gas scrubber effluent discharges, oil to sea interfaces, and then we also have several key improvements administrative changes and efficiency improvements which I will run through in a moment.
Science Advisory Board Ballast Water Study
Now as I mentioned, we early on realized we need good solid information for informing our determinations for this next Vessel General Permit. And one thing we did is we went to EPA's Autonomous Science Advisory Board and specifically asked them questions about the status of existing ballast water treatment technologies. We also asked them questions about what it would be likely that ballast water treatment systems would be able to achieve in the near future. Now the SAB came back with numerous conclusions and I highly – if you are interested in this topic highly encourage you to read the report. The committee did a very good job putting it together. But one of the key some of the key conclusions are that the International Maritime Organization standards, which I will discuss later in this presentation, they are achievable from a technology and testing standpoint. However, they said that the state of technology does not support a TechnologyBased Effluent Limit. They did not quite phrase it in those words but they basically said that the state technology does not indicate the treatment systems are currently available to hit 100 or 1,000 times the International Maritime Organization limit. Once again, I would encourage anyone interested in the subject to go read that report. A link is available from our website.
National Academy of Sciences Study
Now we also went to the US National Academy of Sciences and we specifically asked the NAS to assess methods to evaluate the risk of invasive species introductions associated with ballast water discharges. And we specifically asked them to estimate this risk to help inform EPA's development of our Water QualityBased Effluent Limit applicable to ballast water discharges. What the NAS concluded was that they found that our ability to adequately quantify risk suffers from a profound lack of data. They also concluded that the IMO standard is clearly a first step forward and that it represents a significant reduction in concentrations beyond ballast water exchange.
Ballast Water Limits in the VGP
So based in large part on the advice delivered by the SAP and the NAS and in addition to other information gathered and conducted by EPA, we established a limit set at a range equivalent to the U.S. Coast Guard phase one limit in the U.S. Coast Guard proposed rulemaking as our TechnologyBased Effluent Limit. This is once again, same as the International Maritime Organization limits. And these limits are expressed as the number of living organisms, the concentration of living organisms per unit volume of ballast water discharge. And so for the larger organisms, that is those greater than 50 microns there has to be a discharge of less than 10 per cubic meter and EPA has expressed these limits as an instantaneous maximum limit. Additionally, based on the results of the NAS study, we found that numeric Water Quality Based Effluent Limits were infeasible to calculate. It's important to note that the NAS did propose a path forward to where they believe that EPA and others would be able to gather useful data to help better quantify risk in the future. And so EPA along with many of our federal partners are currently exploring ways to gather some of these data.
Ballast Water Limit Applicability
So ballast water limit applicability. There are several vessels for which the numeric TBEL does not apply and so EPA has applied best management practices as limits. And those BMPs can be found in Part 188.8.131.52 of the VGP. These vessels are unmanned, unpowered barges. Confined Lakers, that is defined as vessels which operate exclusively bulk carriers which operate exclusively above or upstream of the Welland Canal. Short distance voyage vessels and this is defined as vessels which operate exclusively within one COTP or one Captain of the Port Zone or which may cross the Captain of the Port Zone but which travel less than 10 miles. And this provision is specifically targeted if there happens to be any cross river ferries or vessel along those lines which does repeated short voyages. Sea going and inland vessels with less than 8 cubic meters of ballast water also do not have to meet numeric limits. And finally vessels that are enrolled in the Coast Guard Shipboard Technology Evaluation Program do not have to are deemed to comply with the Vessel General Permit numeric limits. This is the same condition vessels enrolled in STEP in 2008 also met EPA's exchange requirements for the purposes of that permit.
So there are four possible ways that EPA is proposed to meet limits. The first and the one that will likely be applicable for most vessels is to use a treatment device. There are multiple treatment devices which currently received type approval from various administrations. I believe that is currently 18 ballast water treatment systems.
Another option is to use onshore treatment. EPA is not aware of any facilities which currently are shore side facilities which treat ballast water discharges to reduce the concentration of living organisms. However, it might make sense for certain vessels on certain confined routes to use this as a treatment option.
A third option is to use potable water from either the US or from Canada. This is a condition that we found based upon that we included based upon public comments submitted to the U.S. Coast Guard proposed rulemaking of 2009 and likely makes sense particularly for the vessels which operate exclusively in inland US waters or some of the short distance voyage vessels that operate between Canada and the United States.
And finally, the fourth possible way to meet the limit is to not discharge ballast water at all. I think we will all acknowledge that no discharge of ballast water is the best way to completely eliminate environmental risk for introducing or spreading potentially invasive species.
EPA also proposing an IMO equivalent implementation schedule. We found this to be BAT. All new vessels newly constructed on or after January 1st, 2012, would have to meet the ballast water discharge limits on delivery but not before December 19th, 2013, when the permit is effective. For existing vessels, as a rolling implementation schedule, that starts in 2014 and continues through the vessels first dry docking after either the 2014 or 2016 trigger date which is dependent upon the vessels size.
Ballast Water Monitoring
EPA has also proposed ballast water monitoring requirements. And we have categorized this into three different types of monitoring requirements. The first is what we would call functional monitoring requirements. And the goal here is to test to see if the system is functioning as designed. So for instance, an electrochlorination system would have to test for chlorine dose to be sure that the chlorine dose is being applied in a manner to eliminate potentially invasive species or living organisms. A system that uses a filter has to measure pressure differential. The second type of monitoring is biological indicator monitoring and we are requiring either biannual or quarterly monitoring for E. coli, enterococci, and total heterotrophic bacteria. And once again, this is using indicators to see how the system is performing on discharge. The third kind of monitoring is active substances and residuals and this is only applicable to systems that use them. There are numeric limits established for systems using chlorine, chlorine dioxide, ozone, and perasetic acid. Additionally, if there's a system which uses a parameter that establishes a Gold Book value, this is an EPA publication with recommended water quality criteria, such systems would have to monitor for those active substances and their discharge limits would have to equal the recommended water quality criteria in the Gold Book. EPA specifically is requesting comment on whether we should establish numeric limits for other active substances on discharge. One additional note, as I mentioned that the monitoring for active substances and biological monitoring is conducted on either a biannual or a quarterly basis. And originally EPA we were going to propose that everyone would have to conduct monitoring on a quarterly basis. However, for those vessels that use a ballast water treatment system for which the US Government, EPA in this case, has high quality efficacy and toxicity type approval data from flag administrations or the vendors for these vessels that use these systems you'll only have to conduct your monitoring twice per year. EPA is soliciting comment on all of these requirements as part of our proposal.
Ballast Water: Additional WQbased requirement
An additional comment or additional requirement for which EPA is specifically soliciting comment is an additional water qualitybased requirement for vessels entering the Great Lakes. And this is certain vessels, vessels that have taken on ballast water within the past month from either a freshwater or brackish water ecosystem that are coming from outside the US exclusive economic zone must conduct ballast water exchange and meet one of the four treatment options so in this case you are likely using a treatment system before they can discharge ballast water into the Great Lakes. EPA estimates that this will impact less than 200 vessels per year, but we do believe based upon the information we've seen that this will provide a notable increase in environmental protection for reducing risks of invasions into the Great Lakes.
Interim Ballast Water Requirements
Additionally, EPA still has the interim ballast water requirements that were present in the 2008 VGP for vessels coming from outside the US exclusive economic zone and vessels engaged in Pacific nearshore voyages until these vessels meet one use one of four approaches to meeting ballast water treatment limits. Once again, these interim requirements are fundamentally similar to those that are in the 2008 VGP. These requirements preclude incorporating existing Coast Guard mandatory management and exchange requirements. Additionally, EPA under the VGP has mandated the nationwide saltwater flushing of ballast tanks for all vessels with residual ballast water and sediment also known as NOBOBs coming from outside the USEEZ and 200 nautical miles from shore. We have mandatory exchange and flushing requirements for any vessels engaged in Pacific nearshore voyages. And the final requirement is that vessels must conduct exchanges early as practicalable with a simple idea the sooner you conduct the exchange the higher likelihood you are to have increased mortality from your exchange and therefore, increase the efficacy. And that is it for ballast water.
Exhaust Gas Scrubber Effluent
A new requirement that EPA is proposing in today's permit or proposed permit is dealing with exhaust gas scrubber effluent. Exhaust gas scrubber effluent may be generated by certain systems that use exhaust gas scrubbers to remove pollutants from air emissions. Exhaust gas scrubber effluent is wastewater that's been used in cleaning in vessel exhaust gases and what EPA is proposing is to make the IMO voluntary guidelines mandatory and these include limits for pH, turbidity, nitrates, and one polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon compound or PAH compound. Additionally, EPA requires monitoring for these vessels and this is to assure that the systems are meeting their limits. IMO guidelines do not currently contain total pH and metal limits. EPA has not proposed limits in our permit today but we are requiring monitoring of these systems to gather more information and be sure that these limits are adequately protective of our water quality standards in US waters. Now right now these limits are currently applicable to a handful of vessels, but we are trying to establish clear limits here to provide certainty for system operators and vendors to assure that discharges are not left uncontrolled in the future but also that it is very clear that there is a target provided for system developers as they develop their systems.
Oil to Sea Interfaces
Oil to Sea interfaces; these are generally any interface, any area where oil comes into regular contact with the sea. And these can include stern tubes, thrusters, hydraulic pitch propellers; wire rope lubrication is a very common Oil to Sea interface. And EPA has found that stern tubes alone have been estimated to leak between roughly five and 29 million liters of oil annually into ports worldwide. And the way the EPA is proposing to help reduce the environmental impact of these discharges is to simply increase the mandate for uses of environmentally acceptable lubricants into US waters these include vegetable oils, synthetic esters, and polyalkylene glycols. Now for existing vessels, vessel operators have to use an environmentally acceptable lubricant in their Oil to Sea interfaces unless it's not technologically feasible to do so. And if it is not then the vessel owner/operator must document that in the recordkeeping documentation and they have to report that to EPA as part of their annual report. For new built vessels EPA and that is defined in the permit as any vessel constructed on or after December 19th, 2013, they will have to use environmental acceptable lubricants in all Oil to Sea interfaces.
Bilgewater: Seeking Comment
Additionally, for bilgewater EPA specifically is seeking comment on potential changes to bilgewater discharge limits and this primarily will affect new build vessels. However, for existing ocean going vessels, in the 2008 VGP, existing ocean going vessels may not discharge bilgewater within one nautical mile of US shores unless it is technologically infeasible for them not to discharge it. What we are taking comment on specifically soliciting comment on is whether EPA should expand the discharge authorization for these existing vessels to allow them to discharge within one nautical mile of shore if they use a bilgewater treatment system meeting a five parts per million effluent limit. Additionally, for new vessels, EPA specifically is seeking comment on whether any discharge within three nautical miles of shore must meet a less than five part per million standard. If the vessel would not be able to discharge bilgewater at less than five BPM, they would have to pump onshore or discharge outside three nautical miles at concentrations less than 15 parts per million. Please see the discussion on pages 58㫞 of our facts sheet, also our Federal Register Notice which highlights where we are taking comment and you can see the specific language on which we are seeking those comments.
Under reporting improvements. EPA heard from multiple stakeholders, areas where they felt there was unnecessary confusion created and so we began very early on to try to identify areas where we can consolidate information gathering activities without significantly increasing the burden or even decreasing burden for the regulated universe. And so what we have done for this proposed Vessel General Permit for the next iteration is we have eliminated the onetime reporting requirement. Now I will note on the side that vessel owner operators covered by the 2008 VGP are still required to submit their one time report as part of the 2008 VGP and that report is due February 6th of this year. However, for the next Vessel General Permit we are proposing to eliminate the onetime reporting requirement and we also would eliminate the annual noncompliance report, instead we are consolidating them into a single annual report. EPA found the administration of the 2008 Vessel General Permit that thousands of permittees were confused by incorporation into the annual noncompliance report which EPA incorporated as a way to meet one of our mandatory permit regulations.
Additionally, for any vessel owner or operator required to collect analytical monitoring data, they can submit those date one time per year to the EPA as part of their annual report. And so this will reduce the frequency of when they have to submit that information to EPA to onetime per year and this will be applicable to any vessel that has to monitor ballast water for instance, or cruise ships, or some of the other vessels for which there will be analytical monitoring requirements.
Additionally, we are allowing unmanned, unpowered barges meeting certain requirements to submit consolidated annual reports. So for the vessel owner/operator who may have two or three annual may have 2,000 or 3,000 barges, they will only have to submit one annual report for all of those barges.
Additionally, EPA has proposed ways to reduce duplicate reporting. And so for instance, where immediate notification is required where immediate notification is reported to the National Response Center, you no longer would have to report any information on discharges that may endanger the environment or human health to EPA Regions within 24 hours.
Now as a side note, it is worth noting that EPA's administrative improvements, we've estimated it will actually result in a savings to the regulated universe of approximately $800,000 per year across the universe compared to the 2008 Vessel General Permit.
In terms of inspection improvements we have eliminated the quarterly visual monitoring requirement contained for all vessels in the 2008 VGP. Instead, we are going to require targeted analytical monitoring from select vessel discharges. We have also allowed for certain vessels that go under prolonged fleeting periods or prolonged layout periods an extended, unmanned vessel option that they can do at their choosing if they are eligible in lieu of routine vessel inspections for unmanned vessels. This reduced routine visual inspection frequency has been requested by many permitees from fleeted vessels and we view this as a way to reduce burden for those vessel owner/operators which frequently fleet or have their vessels in layup.
General Efficiency Improvements
In terms of the general efficiency improvements. We are reducing the NOI processing time from 30 days to 7 days if you submit your NOI electronically. We heard from many vessel owner/operators that this will be a way to streamline requirements and reduce uncertainties associated with complying with the Vessel General Permit. EPA is currently developing electronic tools to submit all information and data such that vessel owner/operators can have simple, easy, electronic banking equivalent systems to log into and submit their information to EPA. EPA is going to require that all information be supported at the agency electronically unless specified exemptions apply in which case the vessel owner/operator may submit paper forms to us. Additionally, EPA is proposing that we are making all data submitted to the agency in electronic format available to the public in electronic format much like we do with EPA's NOI information. That's something that's been requested of EPA by many stakeholders along the way and could perhaps improve permit implementation. Finally, this is a requirement that we've receive from multiple vessel operators from various segments of the industry. That clearly that we clearly allow for and specify that electronic recordkeeping requirements are sufficient for maintaining your records on board your vessel and this is something we have clarified is available in the 2008 VGP but to reduce confusion we've put that language directly into the Vessel General Permit the Vessel General Permit fact sheet so that permittees can see this information when they go through and do their additional read of the permit.
Now one additional change if you recall from the 2008 Vessel General Permit, vessels less than 300 gross tons or do not have the capacity to carry 8 cubic meters of ballast water did not have to submit a Notice of Intent. However, there were vessels bigger than 79 feet, less than 300 gross tons which were in fact covered by the VGP. And EPA found there is considerable confusion in the regulated universe as to whether they had to meet the VGP permit requirements. One way that EPA is helping to alleviate this confusion is we will be requiring this vessel universe, the Permit Authorization Record of Inspection form. This is a onepage form where vessel owner/operators simply have to sign that they have read the permit and they have to certify that they will be conducting their inspections or they have conducted their inspections on an annual basis. We estimate that approximately 20,000 vessels would be subject to this requirement. So with that I will open it up to any questions.
Thank you, Ryan. We are going to take a few questions from the audience but first I have two poll questions for the audience.
Poll Question 1
And when you see the poll question please select the radio button in the slide window. The first poll question is how many people are participating in your location today? Just me, 2ס people, 6㪢 people, 10㪬 people, or more than 20. And again please select the radio button in the slide window.
Poll Question 2
The second question is which of the below best describes you? Vessel owner/operator, industry supplier or vendor, industry trade group, ship agent, government official, environmental stakeholder, interested public, or other.
Okay, we will now take a couple of questions. The first question is what effect will the EPA permit the Vessel General Permit have on ballast water regulations in other states including California?
That's a very good question. Under the Clean Water Act, the Clean Water Act specifically contains saving clauses that states may apply additional conditions in state waters for any vessel discharges or for any discharges regulated under the Clean Water Act. The state can do this in one of two ways. It can either do this under their independent state law as currently is the case in California, Wisconsin, or Minnesota. Or they can do this by attaching conditions to EPA's Vessel General Permit. Now EPA is currently working with our state partners and is requesting certifications from the states and has given the states until June 30th of 2012 to provide us with their conditions which EPA will incorporate into the final Vessel General Permit. So the short answer is the Vessel General Permit, we fortunately have a very good working relationship with the state of California. We very much understand what they are doing and they are aware of what we are doing. But if the state of California includes additional requirements in addition to those that the EPA has those requirements would also be applicable in the waters of the state of California.
Thanks, Ryan. Our next question is are surplus excess or decommissioned vessels housed by MARAD, the Maritime Administration the United States Maritime Administration at the three national ghost fleets covered by the VGP and if not what are the requirements for those vessels?
Those discharges are not currently eligible for coverage under the Vessel General Permit. In order to be eligible for coverage under VGP, your discharges must be incidental to the normal operation of a vessel operating in its capacity of transportation. EPA has determined that the discharges from these vessels are not incidental to the normal operation of the vessel and nor is operating in the capacity of transportation therefore, those vessels would have to obtain NPDES permit coverage from the appropriate designated state authority or authorize state authority. For instance, for the vessels operating for the vessels housed in California they would have to go to the State Water Quality Control Board to seek permit coverage for discharges from those vessels.
Okay. The next question is will I have to resubmit 2013 NOIs for all of my vessels that are currently covered by the 2008 VGP?
That's a good question. I always end up saying something is a good question but that is a good question particularly if you're somebody who has to sit down and input those data. Some of the information on the proposed 2013 VGP the EPA will be collecting is different than that in the 2008 VGP. However, what we are looking at is we are trying to research for those vessel owner/operators who submit those data electronically. We are trying to find technological fixes that can prepopulate the maximum number of fields to reduce the burden for permittees who will be resubmitting those NOIs that have already submitted them in 2008. So yes, you will we have to resubmit that information. However, we are trying to do our best using technological solutions to try to reduce your burden for those information you submit.
Thanks, Ryan. The next question, we have actually gotten a couple of these, is EPA working on the Coast Guard on their final rulemaking and please comment on the alignment of the VGP with the Coast Guard regulations.
Thank you. Very good question. I did not talk about the Coast Guard rulemaking at all today but the Coast Guard is currently in a rulemaking process whereby they are finalizing limits for ballast water discharges. Now the Coast Guard rulemaking is currently at the Office of Management and Budget where it is undergoing interagency review. Although I can't comment on any requirements that are in the final Coast Guard rulemaking, I can say that EPA and the Coast Guard continue to work very closely together. We have a very close working relationship. They are aware of what we are doing, we are aware what they are doing and we are doing our best to make final conditions and those final actions as consistent as possible. All of this being said, the EPA General Vessel Permit is covered by the Clean Water Act and the Coast Guard rulemaking activities are covered by the National Invasive Species Act and so there may be areas there is not complete overlap between these two actions.
Okay, thank you, Ryan. I'm going to take a couple of minutes and read the poll results here. Poll 1 Results
And so just in terms of the first poll question, how many people are participating in your location today? 16 percent said just me. 2ס was 24 percent. And the rest were less than 1 percent or zero.
Poll 2 Results
In terms of which of the below best describes you? Vessel owner/operator, 30 percent. Industry supplier or vendor, 9 percent. Industry trade group, 5 percent. There was no ship agents. 37 percent were government officials, 4 percent were environmental stakeholders, 3 percent was the interested public, and 12 percent was other.
I think we have time maybe for one more question. And this is a question we are receiving a lot about the 401 certifications. How is EPA working with the states on their Clean Water Act Section 401 certifications of the new permits?
Also, a good question. As I mentioned, before, we have given the states until June 30th of 2012, to provide their certifications to us. In the last issuance of the Vessel General Permit we were all both EPA and the states were the time we had for working together and coming up with permit limits was substantially compressed due to the time limits given to us by the court order. However, we have a little more time now to work with our state partners and for our state partners to work with each other to develop the 401 certification conditions. EPA will be meeting with many of the states face to face and then also there will be conference calls and webinars over the next month to try to provide the states with information EPA used and then also let states provide information to each other. EPA will also be there as a mediator to and facilitator to help work with the states on their 401 certification conditions. EPA also, led by our Regions, planned on follow up and hosting regional conference calls to allow those states to continue their coordination with one another so that we can try to maximize Regional consistency in 401 certification conditions to the maximum extent practicable.
Thank you very much, Ryan for those great responses. I'm happy to report that there is 490 people listening to our webcast today. And let's get back to the presentation. Take it away, Robin, on the Small Vessel General Permit.
Small Vessel General Permit
Thank you, Juhi. Today I am going to be discussing the Small Vessel General Permit.
Small Vessel General Permit (sVGP)
Ryan gave you a few statistics on some of the permitees already but what you can see now is a graph that shows all of the Small Vessel General Permitees and their distribution based on vessel type. You can see here that of those approximately 118,000𤩺,000 vessels that would be covered, the commercial fishing vessels are by far the largest group followed by passenger vessels, and then things like tugs, small tows, and utility vessels.
NPDES Permitting Moratorium
Ryan also mentioned the NPDES permit moratorium. Currently, vessels less than 79 feet are not covered by the Vessel General Permit and that was due to the Senate bill that was passed in 2008 and then also revised in a year later. That moratorium has been extended to December 18th of 2013. So what we have done is we have proposed the Small Vessel General Permit so that it will cover any vessels that will cover those vessels if that moratorium is not extended again. We need to have a mechanism in place for that. As a part of the moratorium we were required, as Ryan mentioned in his presentation, to do a study to assess the discharges from commercial fishing vessels and other nonrecreational vessels less than 79 feet that were subject to this exemption previously. So we did do that study. And what I will do now is give you some basics and backgrounds on that study.
Report to Congress
That Report to Congress was completed in August of 2010. And when we got the Report to Congress charge we were asked to examine six different elements. We were to look at the concentration of pollutants in discharges, the volume of the discharges, the location of the discharges, impact from the discharges to human health and the environment, and benefits for reducing concentration loading of pollutants for those discharges. Finally, we were also asked to do an evaluation of existing laws and regulations for those discharges. These charge questions then became many of the chapters that you would see in the Report to Congress.
The components that we used for the report to Congress; we used literature reviews; we did a lot of on the ground sampling. We also developed a screening level model that helped validate our results. We did data interpretation of the multiple data points that we obtained. And then we had a legal summary and interpretation of the data. This report is available on our website and you can see the website address on the bottom of the screen. There are very limited number of hard copies available additionally.
Types of Vessels Samples
When we were doing the Report to Congress we sampled as many different types of vessels as we had access to in several different geographic locations across the US. We were able to sample many commercial fishing vessels both in Alaska and in Massachusetts. We were able to sample tug and supply and salvage boats in the Mideast area. We also sampled fire boats and we threw in a couple of recreational boats that became available out to sample and we also sampled some EPA research vessels for this study.
We sampled many different discharges on those boats; as many as we could have access to. Some discharges are below the water line or were too dangerous to collect but the ones that we were sampled you can see a nice variety here of the many different types of discharges we sampled. As we sampled the discharges they were sampled for multiple different constituents. Things such as metals, BODs, organics, semivolatiles, and volatile organic compounds. We also took source water and ambient samples from these different locations so that we could determine background concentrations.
The Report's Analyses
When we put the final report together, we did a we took some time to analyze the data and in the final report we provided some interpretive text. We also provided summary statistics. There were over 22,000 data points that were generated by our sampling and so we summarized those in what we feel was a more easily digestible manner in the final report. To do that we used box plots to display the data and we used potential hazard quotients to provide some comparison values to things like water quality standards in the final report. We also, as I mentioned earlier, did a screening model and we provide a summary of that in the final report.
The Report's Summary Conclusions
What did the report tell us and how do we use those results for the Small Vessel General Permit is where we are going to be talking next. Basically, the report told us that there were certain pollutants from vessel discharges in this vessel class category subject to the moratorium that were found in elevated concentrations. We did find some metals and deck wash down in fish holds. We found things like BOD in the gray water and so those were of concern to us. But we also found that these discharges are generally in lower volumes than from larger vessels. So these small vessels are unlikely to cause the sole exceedance of water quality in a large waterbody. But cumulative impacts from multiple vessels in a harbor or in a fishing area could be a problem. Some pollutant discharges would be likely to cause these localized impacts in a smaller waterbody or a waterbody that has very poor flushing or other pollutant sources or has really high vessel traffic coming through.
So we use those results to help us develop the Small Vessel General Permit. Again, the Small Vessel General Permit covers nonrecreational, nonmilitary vessels less than 79 feet. Ryan went through the Vessel General Permit and when we developed the Small Vessel General Permit we took a slightly different tact because these vessels are much smaller and much less sophisticated than the larger vessels we wanted to produce a permit that was much more easily used by the regulated community. So vessels covered by the Small Vessel General Permit are covered if they are less than 79 feet and have less than 8 cubic meters of ballast water. Those are the measuring sticks we use to determine who is eligible for the Vessel General Permit. It is slightly different in structure than the Vessel General Permit. It's much smaller. It's only 20 pages long. It has most of its most important information up front. We have the overview, the effluent limitations, and the monitoring and recordkeeping of front in the first three sections. We put the discharge limits effluent limits right in Part 2 so they would be right upfront for people to see and then we put the more standard permit conditions and other requirements toward the end Sections 4, 5, definitions in Section 6 and so on. We also did something different in this permit. The Vessel General Permit is organized by discharge type. Here we are organized by discharge management groups rather than discharge types. The permit does cover only the discharges that are incidental to the normal operations of these vessels while operating a means of transportation but they are just organized a little differently in this permit. As with the Vessel General Permit, there are some exclusions. Most notably sewage is not covered by this permit as it is in the Vessel General Permit as it is not in the Vessel General Permit.
Part 2 Effluent Limitations and Related Requirements
So what I would like to do now is just do a quick overview of the different effluent limitations in Part 2 of the permit. There are 10 management areas in all that cover the incidental discharges for these vessels. More details on these different management of these different management areas can be found in the Vessel General Permit and I mean the Small Vessel General Permit and the Small Vessel General Permit fact sheet. Those two documents along with the Vessel General Permit and some other documents are available on the resources tab of your presentation today. They are also available on our website. As we develop the effluent limitations, you will find our approach leans towards best management practices that are technologically available and economically practicalable and achievable. And they are basically best marine practices and you will see that as you read through the permit and look at the different requirements.
The first management area that we talk about in the permit are the general requirements. Here we have what you see here highlighted management practices oily oil including oily mixtures may not be discharged in quantities that may be harmful or cause a visible sheen. We also have requirements such as minimize accidental discharges. Try to do repairs if possible. Large engine repairs out of the water to minimize any kind of impact on the waterbody.
The fuel management – management area has some similar type requirements but these are very focused on fuel management. So you need to inspect your fuel and hydraulic systems for any discharges, prevent overfill when fueling, inspect your systems, your fuel lines, things like that. Again, best management practices for most vessel operators.
Section 2.3 is engine and oil control. And here we want to talk about the preference for use of environmentally acceptable lubricants. We also want to talk about your oily water separator that might be onboard and that you need to maintain that and make sure that there is no visible sheen being produced when you discharge your bilge or your oily water separator. You also should make sure you dispose of any oil absorbent materials in an appropriate receptacle on shore.
Next, you will see solid and liquid waste management. In this we want to prevent garbage, food waste, or other materials from entering the wastestreams. So you want to make sure that all materials are secure on your vessel. You will see the highlighted management practice here talks about fishing lines and things like that because a large number of the vessels covered by the Vessel General Permit are fishing vessels. We have some very specific management practices in some of the areas for small for fishing vessels. And here you want to prevent monofilament line, fishing nets, lines, lures, rope, bait boxes, etc. from entering any discharge stream covered by the permit or waters from the permit.
Part 2 Effluent Limitations and Related Requirements
Continuing on. Deck wash down and deck runoff. We want to minimize the introduction of deck debris, garbage, etc., into the wastestreams and also into the surrounding waters. You want to make sure that you are using all your detergents and soaps according to the label and that your soaps are phosphate free and nontoxic.
Vessel hull maintenance. Again, you are going to be using phosphate free and nontoxic soaps and we do have a prohibition for the discharge of TPT. We do not so you don't you either want to make sure that you do not use TPT coding for your hull or you want to make sure that you have elements available that will not allow for the discharge of that TPT into the surrounding waters as it leaches from your home. You also, for vessel hull maintenance, want to make sure that you use soft sponges and other types of cleaning to minimize any impact from paint chips or anything from entering the surrounding waters when you are doing hull maintenance or hull cleaning.
Section 2.7 of the permit covers graywater. Again, you see this minimize language. Minimize graywater discharges in areas that have heavy vessel traffic. And what we found from the results of the study was that again, each individual vessel may not contribute or cause an incidence of water quality but where there are multiple vessels together in a harbor, we could have an issue so we want to minimize where there is heavy vessel traffic or lots of recreational traffic in a marine sanctuary or wildlife refuge or any place like that. You also want to discharge your graywater while in port and if in the permit we recommend that if you can store your graywater you should do that and then discharge while underway or if possible discharge to an appropriately permitted onshore discharge facility.
This next category, 2.8 fish hold effluent is specifically there for all the commercial fishing vessels that are covered. We want to minimize the discharge of fish hold or dirty ice while in port. Again, we did find some higher levels of BOD and things like that in this discharge so we want to minimize the discharge. If applicable, discharge onshore or use some onshore treatment if possible. Do not discharge any unused bait overboard unless it was caught in that waterbody and we are doing this to try to minimize the impact of invasive species from different waterbodies.
Part 2 Effluent Limitations and Related Requirements
Last two categories. We have ballast water discharge and seawater cooling overboard. For ballast water discharges, again in this permit we are only allowing for vessels that have less than 8 cubic meters of ballast water are allowed to be covered by this permit. If your vessel, even if it's less than 79 feet has greater than 8 cubic meters of ballast water, you would need to seek coverage under the Vessel General Permit. And if you look through our Federal Register Notice for this permit and through the fact sheet this is an area where we are requesting some comments to determine if that number is an appropriate number or cut off level.
When feasible we are asking that you try to use one of the following measures to reduce the potential transport or introduction of organisms into waters of the US. You can use potable water for your ballasting. You could use an onshore treatment or disposal method if possible. This may be more likely for small vessels than for larger vessels. We also want or are hoping vessels that conduct fixed routines that maybe they could capture and reuse ballast water in each port.
Other things for ballast water. You want to avoid discharge or uptake in marine sanctuaries, preserves, parks, or coral reefs and also minimize the uptake of ballast water near sewage outfalls, near dredging operations, or areas known to have algal blooms, those types of things to try to prevent to try to get the cleanest water possible for your ballast water for when you are discharging.
The last requirement there for seawater cooling overboard. This is to reduce the production to reduce thermal impacts to the receiving waters. We want to try to reduce the production of the discharge so use shore power if available. You want to minimize the thermal impacts to the receiving water by not discharging the cooling water overboard and try to only discharge sea water cooling water overboard while the vessel is underway.
Monitoring and Recordkeeping
Next, we will move on to Part 3 of the permit. These are the monitoring and recordkeeping requirements. As with the vessels that are smaller, less than 300 gross tons in the Vessel General Permit, the smaller vessels covered by the Small Vessel General Permit are not required to submit an NOI. Instead the owner or operator must read and follow the sVGP and implement all the applicable permit requirements and then sign and maintain a copy of the Small Vessel General Permit Authorization and Record of Inspection form or PARI form. This form is found in Appendix A of the permit and you will print it out, sign it, keep it on board your vessel, and update it when you do your quarterly visual inspection each year. So the other requirement for monitoring is that you conduct a quarterly visual inspection each year. And you will document this again on that PARI form, that Permit Authorization and Record of Inspection form.
Finally, there is no just to mention for people if you might be thinking there is no formal paperwork that is necessary to be submitted to the EPA for the Small Vessel General Permit. You will just print out and keep this PARI form on your vessel. The other sections of the permit, Part 4, is the additional requirements and standard conditions of the permit. Part 5 are any state specific conditions or 401 certs that may be put on by any state specific to the Small Vessel General Permit. Part 6 is the definitions for the permit and Part 7 is where we have contacts that you can EPA contacts and state contacts for your use.
That concludes the information on the Small Vessel General Permit. What I would like to do now is just talk a little bit about how to submit comments for the permits if you want to submit comments during our open comments period. The comment the Federal Register Notice was published in December and there's a 75 day public comment period. This comment period ends February 21st, 2012. If you'd like to submit comments we have opened two dockets, one for the Vessel General Permit that is docket ID number EPAHQOW. The sVGP has its own docket identified by EPAHQOW. You can submit them by going to www.regulations.gov online or you can email them to go firstname.lastname@example.org. You may also mail your comments in or hand deliver them to our EPA Docket and that information for mailing and hand delivery is up on the screen, you can see that now.
Written Public Comments
We are also during the written comment period, as Ryan mentioned in his presentation and as I mentioned, we are seeking comment specifically on the provisions we have discussed throughout this presentation and any other specific questions that we proposed and the Federal Register Notice. All of the permits, fact sheets, and additional information are available on our website which is listed here www.epa.gov/npdes/vessels. And many of the documents are also available on your resource tab. The links to the documents are available on the resource tab of our presentation today. So I think now we will take any questions you might have on the Small Vessel General Permit.
Poll Question 3
Thank you so much, Robin. We are going to take a few questions from the audience but first I have two final poll questions for the audience. The first poll question is how did you hear about the draft permits? The VGP distributional list, a news outlet such as the AP, New York Times, or EPA's Press Office, the NPDES Vessels Newsletter, www.epa.gov/npdes/vessels, FR notice, a government official, an industry trade group, wordofmouth, or other. And a reminder to just select the radio button next to the appropriate response for you.
Poll Question 4
The next poll question is do you think that the recordkeeping and reporting improvements in the 2013 draft VGP will successfully reduce the administrative burden on permittees? Yes, yes, but only for some parts, no I think it should stay the same, no I think it will increase administrative burden for permittees. And as I mentioned before, we have 490 people listening today. From 40 different states and six countries including Canada, Cyprus, Denmark, Guam, Norway, and the UK. So we are really excited about that.
Okay. Again, thank you to Ryan and Robin. It looks like we have some time to answer some additional questions from the audience. But first I want to remind you that this presentation will be archived so you can access it after today's live presentation. The archived webcast will be posted within a couple of weeks on EPA's NPDES website.
So first I'm going to go ahead and take a couple of these questions about the sVGP, Robin's presentation that was just given. There was a couple of clarifying questions, Robin, and one of them is just to be clear does the recreational exemption also apply to the Small Vessel General Permit?
Thank you, Juhi. That is a good question. Yes, the recreational exemption does apply to the Small Vessel General Permit as with the Vessel General Permit the only vessels covered are nonrecreational, nonmilitary vessels less than 79 feet that has less than eight cubic meters of ballast water.
Great, thanks, Robin. And another clarifying question to clarify to be part of the sVGP the vessel has to be under 79 feet and carry ballast water correct? No for a commercial vessel under 79 feet and don't have ballast water, correct?
Okay. That's a little bit confusing, but I think the answer is any vessel less than 79 feet is covered. Any commercial vessel is covered. It does not matter whether or not they have ballast water. So any commercial vessel less than 79 feet that doesn't have ballast water is covered by this Small Vessel General Permit. Any vessel less than 79 feet that is commercial is also covered by the Small Vessel General Permit provided it has less than 8 cubic meters of ballast water. Again, if it has more than 8 cubic meters of ballast water it would have to seek coverage under the Vessel General Permit.
Thanks. And Robin a couple of questions for you about resources and where to find information. One question is where can we get the SAB Panel Report on ballast water treatment?
That's a good question. The SAB and NAS reports are both available on our EPA website at the address that was given previously www.epa.gov/npdes/vessels. You would go under the program development information and there you will find a link directly to the NAS and SAB reports as well as pdf copies of both those reports.
Great. And one more question: how can I obtain copies of comments submitted to EPA as part of the 2010 listening session?
Good question. All of the comments are currently available on www.regulations.gov. You would just need to type in the docket ID number for the Vessel General Permit listening session and I don't happen to have that right in front of me. But we will get that for you. That information is available on our webpage, the docket ID number. Sorry about that.
Thanks. That's great. And a question for Ryan. Talking about sort of sVGP or VGP, does sVGP apply to small vessels carried onboard a VGP vessel?
That's a very good question. We have written the VGP such that if you are a vessel less than 79 feet you still are eligible for coverage under the Vessel General Permit. So you could actually have coverage under the Small Vessel General Permit or the Vessel General Permit. And we really put this provision out there for those vessels for those operators that may have a fleet that may range from 60𤩞 feet and they want to maintain one environmental management system for the vessel operators. The and specifically in regards to lifeboats or other small boats that may be kept aboard a larger vessel we specifically note that vessels these sorts of vessels are covered by the larger vessel or mother vessels permit coverage so you do not have to do specific additional requirements other than those things that are specifically applicable to the discharges that may originate from that small vessel. So for instance, the discharge small engine wet exhaust is naturally applicable to the discharges from those small boats when you operate them in waters. The same thing holds when you're washing down the smaller boats. You have to use for instance, an example is phosphate free soaps. So there will not be additional recordkeeping or management requirements and you get to maintain your coverage under that one large vessel.
Thanks, Ryan. And a few more a lot more questions have trickled in. I am going to choose a few. Does the EPA consider the added crew burden to comply with VGP requirements?
Yes. EPA estimates burden to the regulated universe and what we use as a baseline for determining that burden is we look at the 2008 Vessel General Permit and all other existing US laws and regulations. And we look at any deviations from either the 2008 Vessel General Permit or those existing other US laws and regulations as increases or decreases in burden as appropriate. And so for instance, in the proposed 2013 Vessel General Permit there are places we would estimate there would be increased burden associated with permit requirements. For instance, the burden associated with ballast water monitoring, we estimated this would range in cost from $1מ million in year for the regulated industry. In contrast for the administrative requirements and recordkeeping requirements, inspection requirements we estimated a change in cost from the 2008 Vessel General Permit of approximately $800,000. Now in many cases we actually estimate cost based upon for monitoring for instance, we often estimate the cost of an actual laboratory test. How much a laboratory would charge you for the – that conducting that analysis. However, some things like administrative burden we estimate the number of hours which we then calculate we monetize by putting calculating the labor rate of the crew members in a given industry in terms of how much their time typically cost. So yes we have considered that burden. And all that information is available in our economic analysis which is available on the webpage given by Robin earlier.
Thanks, Ryan. That is great. Here is a question for either Ryan or Robin I think. How is EPA addressing refrigerated seawater from fishing vessels?
I will take that one. Basically EPA has put some best management practices in the fish hold effluent discharge in the Vessel General Permit and the fish hold effluent management area in the Small Vessel General Permit. And what we have done is we have tried to minimize the discharge of these refrigerated seawater holding tanks into waters of the US. You want to try to minimize that discharge while in port. Discharge onshore if possible. Try not to if you are using a device that sucks up the catch and the seawater try to make sure that seawater goes in that facility to be discharged.
Thanks, Robin. We have a few a lot more questions here. Let's see if I maintain my records electronically where do they need to be stored? On the vessel, shore side, or a backup site?
The records will have to be the records can be maintained onboard the vessel or a shore site. Somewhere located within the United States. This details are discussed at length both for the 2008 Vessel General Permit. If you go to our webpage and on the right side of the webpage you click the frequently asked question or FAQ button you will see the recordkeeping question is the second or third down from the top. Additionally, in the proposed 2013 permit there is a section of the fact sheet I believe it is contained in approximately somewhere in Section 6 of that fact sheet that specifically discusses the electronic recordkeeping requirements and what the vessel owner/operator would have to do to maintain electronic records. Now the important thing to note is that electronic records would need to be made immediately available to any EPA inspector or EPA's authorized representative. So for instance, the Coast Guard, were an inspector to come onboard the vessel and the vessel owner/operator would need to make those records immediately available for purposes of inspection and this could be done via a number of mechanisms and once again it is discussed at length in our fact sheet. I will also note here, I mentioned this before but this is something EPA specifically is taking comments on and we are naturally open to comments submitted by the public in terms of how we would improve the recordkeeping process to be sure that it's something that not only provides EPA the quality records that we need to do our jobs but also provides you, the vessel owner/operator, with the flexibility to maintain your records in an efficient manner.
Thank you, Ryan. We are going to move on to another question talking about ballast water I think. In VGP what regulation will protect Great Lakes from ballast water on East Coast vessels that do not leave the exclusive economic zone?
Okay, under the portion of the permit which we have proposed these vessels will these are considered coast wide vessels and they would have to meet the numeric ballast water discharge standards proposed in Part 184.108.40.206 of the Vessel General Permit just like any other vessel coming from across the US coming from outside the US Exclusive Economic Zone. They have to meet the same timing requirements in terms of other vessels, but the one thing that we did not propose is they would not have to do the ballast water exchange plus treatment for these vessels unlike some vessels coming from outside the USEEZ so there will be ballast water treatment systems. These treatment systems will reduce the number of living organisms which in the discharge which will reduce the risk posed to invasion in the Great Lakes, to any new invasions.
Thank you, Ryan. Poll Question 3 Results
I want to take a little break here and let you know the results of our final two poll questions. How did you hear about the draft permits? 23 percent of you heard about it from our VGP distribution list. We are happy that is working. 3 percent from news outlets, 9 percent from the vessel's newsletter, 5 percent from our website www.epa.gov /npdes/vessels. 5 percent from the Federal Register Notice, 19 percent from a government official, 17 percent from an industry trade group, 9 percent from word of mouth, and 10 percent by some other means.
Poll Question 4 Results
And in terms of the question do you think the recordkeeping and reporting improvements in the 2013 Draft VGP will successfully reduce the administrative burden on permittees? 30 percent of you said yes. 40 percent said yes, but only for some parts. 10 percent thought it should stay the same and 19 percent believe that the new requirements would increase administrative burden for permittees.
Okay. That is great information for us to have. We are going to take a few more questions, but I would like to ask the audience to complete the survey that will be appearing on your screen shortly. Please consider completing the survey and letting us know your thoughts. We really appreciate your feedback as we work to improve our webcasts. While you are completing the survey we have a few more questions for our speakers. Are unpowered barges still subject to the other nonballast waterrelated VGP requirements? Ryan Albert
Yes, they are still subject to all of the requirements for in the case of unpowered barges the most applicable requirement would be those associated with, for instance, deck runoff and above waterline hull cleaning so these vessel owner/operators would still have to meet those requirements and any other applicable requirements to their vessels.
Thanks. That is great, Ryan. And I think another question for you, Ryan. What are the changes to graywater discharge requirements for passenger vessels?
Okay, in the 2008 VGP by passenger vessels I am going to interpret that to mean cruise ships. And in the 2008 Vessel General Permit, EPA proposed numeric discharge limits for graywater discharges and graywater mixed with sewage discharges from many cruise ships. Those requirements included numeric limits which were set at the secondary treatment limits and also required monitoring to be conducted for those vessels. The conditions were fundamentally similar with existing requirements for large cruise ships operating in Alaskan waters and we effectively nationalized those requirements to provide those protections for all cruise ship graywater discharges and graywater mixed with sewage. We determined back in 2008 that these technologies were available and they represented best available treatment technology.
Now in the 2013 Vessel General Permit, EPA has increased or changed some of the requirements for these large cruise ships including the fact in the 2008 Vessel General Permit you had to meet these numeric limits if you are on inland waters or if you were within one nautical mile offshore. EPA has changed the distance requirement to three nautical miles from shore so that any large cruise ship or medium cruise ship, any new large medium cruise ship would have to meet the discharge limitations going out to three nautical miles from shore. EPA has also changed some of the data collection requirements for the large cruise ships. Specifically, EPA will be requiring monitoring of some additional nutrients as well to help better generate better information for the agency in terms of how these cruise ship graywater and graywater mixed with sewage treatment systems the advanced wastewater treatment systems onboard the vessels are functioning. There are also several other requirements that are changed within the permit including how the data is reported to EPA and these requirements can all be found in Part 1 5.1of the Vessel General Permit for large cruise ships and Part 5.2 of the Vessel General Permit for medium cruise ships.
Thanks, Ryan. And a process question. If we have comments mostly on the VGP with some minor comments on the sVGP, can the comments be submitted as one document?
I will go ahead and answer that, Juhi. No, comments for the VGP and sVGP need to be submitted separately either to the VGP docket for the VGP questions or to the sVGP docket for the sVGP questions.
Thank you, Robin, very much. A question about the ballast water limits in the VGP. Why didn't EPA select the Coast Guard rulemaking Phase 2 standard in their proposed permit?
That is a very good question. The Coast Guard proposed Phase 2 rulemaking standard was set for the larger size class of organisms to be 1,000 times lower or more stringent than what is in the Coast Guard Phase 1 rulemaking. Now part of evaluating both what technologies could achieve and then also what was necessary to protect water quality as I mentioned before, EPA specifically went to our Science Advisory Board for the technological evaluation and to the National Academy of Sciences for evaluating or estimating the risk associated with ballast water discharges. Based on the results of those studies, the Science Advisory Board was unambiguous in its evaluation of technology. They stated clearly that technologies to meet the IMO discharge limit are available today. Hence, EPA made the determination to or proposed to require that vessels start installing these treatment systems consistently with the IMO schedule. For however, the SAB clearly articulated that treatment systems to reach the Coast Guard Phase 2 standard are not available today. We have to when we develop an NPDES permit and we established best available technology we look at technologies that are available today in our evaluation and as we go to look at those six factors I talked about earlier, we look at what's currently on the market, what current costs are, and what limits we believe these systems will be able to achieve. Now when we go through and we did the water quality evaluation, we looked at the National Academy of Sciences study and once again we went to the National Academy of Sciences so we would have a firm sciencebased evaluation and advice to the agency both to us and to any of our federal partners who chose to use that advice to be able to establish Water QualityBased Effluent Limits. It's important to note the EPA can establish Water QualityBased Effluent Limits that are more stringent than our Technology Based Effluent Limits even if no technologies exist to meet those limits. And what EPA would do in that case is we would establish a compliance schedule whereby vessels and system vendors would have time to develop the better technologies. However, the NAS came back with the results that accurately estimating that risk is not really something that is feasible due to the profound lack of data we have today. And EPA, we have taken that as a challenge to really explore how can we fill in those data gaps so for the next issuance of the VGP in either 2017 or 2018, we are able to more accurately estimate that risk and hopefully calculate a numeric Water Quality Based Effluent Limit applicable to ballast water discharges moving forward. We do not know what that numeric limit would be at this time, obviously, but hopefully with better information we will have a much better sense.
Thank you, Ryan, for that comprehensive answer. A couple of questions about paperwork. I think Robin mentioned this in her presentation but we are getting some questions about what paperwork do I have to complete for the sVGP?
Sure. Just to reiterate for the Small Vessel General Permit owner/operators are only required to print out and maintain onboard the Permit Record of Authorization the PARI form – Permit and Record of Authorization form. That is a onepage document that you print out and keep onboard your vessel for five years for the five years of the permit term.
Thank you, Robin. And a question about the current 2008 VGP. Are annual noncompliance reports under the 2008 permit required for vessels submitting the onetime report?
Yes, the annual noncompliance report and the onetime report requirements are different requirements. The annual noncompliance report must be submitted by vessels which have any instances of noncompliance within the previous year. We generally interpreted that to be calendar year. So for instance, in the case of the 2000 or in the VGP if you had an instance of noncompliance in 2011 let's say go back to phosphate free soaps as an example, if you are finding one of your vessels, you accidentally stocked it with soap continuously that contains high levels of phosphorus, you would need to report this to EPA and you would need to report it to the Region where the exceedance or the violation occurred or if you are operating in multiple EPA Regions then you would need to report it to the Region were either the most discharges occurred or were you operated the most. The onetime report is something that is required of all vessels. Now the Annual Noncompliance Report we estimate only a small fraction of the total 70,000 vessels subject to the VGP would have to submit the Annual Noncompliance Report. And so for instance, for the year 2009, EPA received several thousand of these representing approximately less than 10 percent of total vessels had to submit these annual noncompliance reports. Now for the 2013 Vessel General Permit, we are to try and alleviate confusion, we are requiring an annual report and one of the frequent requests we received from the regulated universe and for those having to submit Annual Noncompliance Reports were a request to provide a template or a form. So therefore, that's why we are eliminating the Annual Noncompliance Report is that requirement is effectively being addressed by the annual report which will contain that form which once again, we are trying to build into an electronic system to minimize burden on the permittees.
Thank you very much, Ryan. Another paperwork question for Robin. For the sVGP should documentation of inspections be also kept?
That's a very good question. Yes, you are required to keep documentation of your inspections. Just again, the Permit Authorization and Record of Inspection form that's available as Appendix A of the permit has a spot where you would put down your quarterly visual inspections each year. So each quarter you would be documenting your inspections on that form. Additionally, on the backside of that form has corrective actions forms so whenever you've had a corrective action you needed to complete you would document on the backside of that form. So that is where we keep all of those things in one place. We are hoping to make it easier for the regulated community in that respect.
Thanks for that clarification, Robin. Onto a question specifically for Ryan. It says Ryan, why were the Lakers exempted?
Thank you very much for that question. And I will respond that the question is really applicable to the confined Lakers. Once again, those vessels that are operating exclusively upstream of the Welland Canal. EPA did not require numeric treatment requirements for these vessels specifically because we found that technologies were not available for these largest exclusive freshwater large bulk carriers. However, EPA we were very clear to note that we are very aware of ongoing research, we are aware of ballast water treatment systems that are being designed for large flows and we are keeping our eye on these technologies and we will require numeric limits for these vessels as soon as technologies are available. However, once again based upon the evaluation we did in 2011, those technologies did not quite appear ripe in 2011 for requiring installation on board these vessels. Now EPA will specifically also note we could reopen this permit to require it for these vessels or there are other avenues we could take as well to require these treatment technologies to be installed for the next iteration of the Vessel General Permit and it goes without saying that we will be doing a comprehensive new technological evaluation before we propose the next Vessel General Permit which would once again come in effect in either 2017 or 2018.
Great, thanks, Ryan. And the questions keep coming and we have time for a couple more so. Please clarify the exclusion requirements if a vessel operates both inside and outside the 3mile limit, do we have to comply with the VGP?
Yes, you do whenever you are operating within US waters you have to comply with the VGP. So for a vessel that comes in and outside the three nautical mile territorial limit, what that means is any effluent limits, in other words the things that directly are applicable to the discharges from your vessels, you must comply with while you are operating within three nautical miles. Now in terms of the time that you are operating outside of three nautical miles you only must comply with the requirements that directly affect your discharges when you are operating within three nautical miles. So for instance, a very common question is I'm a blue water vessel large blue water vessel and I only operate in US waters four times per year. Do I have to conduct my routine visual inspections all year, all 52 weeks during the year? And the answer is no you do not. You must conduct your routine visual inspection before reentering US waters and recording that you have done so because the results of that inspection could impact the quality of your discharge when you discharge into US waters. So generally speaking for a vessel that only comes into US waters for a couple of days at any given time what we often advise is you need to conduct your routine visual inspection on the voyage before you enter US waters or before and to be sure you give yourself a little bit of time to identify any problems to fix them and while you are in US waters it's generally a good idea to it conduct that inspection just to be sure that there are not any known issues onboard your vessel.
Thanks, Ryan. And on the topic of permit applicability a couple of questions for Robin about recreational vessels. Are recreational vessels permanently exempt?
Yes. Recreational vessels are exempt from Vessel General Permitting from NPDES permitting but they are covered by the Clean Boating Act. As mentioned in Ryan's presentation, in 2008, Congress enacted the Clean Boating Act that covers all recreational vessels regardless of their size so even if you are a greater a 150foot megayacht you aren't covered by the Vessel General Permit but you are covered by the Clean Boating Act.
Thank you, Robin. Another question, I think possibly our last question. The EPA is likely aware that hull fouling is considered a stronger vector for AIS introductions than ballast water. Is this an issue that is on the work plan of the EPA in the future? For example, will consideration be given to regulating discharge of AIS through inwater vessel cleaning?
That's a very good question and I think it's safe to say EPA is very aware that hull fouling represents another significant potential vector in addition to ballast water for the for transferring, for introducing, or disbursing invasive species. Now under the existing Vessel General Permit, if you see the sections dealing with both antifoulant hull coatings and dealing with underwater ship husbandry we already have requirements that have been specifically developed based upon what we understand is currently best available technology. We already have requirements that are applicable to these discharges. And so the section dealing with antifoulant hull coatings really focused on the potentially negative impacts that these discharges could have on water quality in certain cases. Likewise, the underwater husbandry section really tries to focus more on the potential of transferring of invasive species and it also does talk about some steps to minimize the discharge from antifoulant hull coatings. Now something many people on this listening to this webcast and all of us in the room are aware of there is a certain balance that we currently in the existing Vessel General Permit need to maintain and that is that antifoulant hull coatings reduce biofouling and even though they may result in some pollutant discharges, they also result in reducing the risk from spreading or disbursing invasive species. Therefore, EPA and the existing Vessel General Permit try to take a balanced approach in terms of both the excuse me the antifoulant coating requirements and also the hull fouling and underwater ship husbandry requirements. EPA obviously will continue to track this issue. This is currently an issue that is being discussed in multiple forms including with our state partners, with our other federal agencies, and also at the International Maritime Organization. EPA is very interested in what is going on and obviously any new permit conditions in the next permit would be reflective of any updates or changes in the science. Finally, the questioner or anybody else is aware of any other information that implies or otherwise shows that the conditions EPA has in the 2013 Vessel General Permit are inappropriate, could be strengthened, or somehow adjusted please do submit those comments to our docket. That information would be very useful for us that EPA and we would consider them before we finalize the Vessel General Permit this November.
Thank you, Ryan. And I am going to answer one more question and I think you can see the slide there with the contact information. Folks have been asking if they don't have comments but have further questions either that we have not answered today or that they think of as they are reading through our permits, fact sheets, and the other resources for questions on the VGP you can send an email to email@example.com. And for questions on the sVGP you can write to firstname.lastname@example.org. And just before we wrap up finally today we are going to announce that we will be hosting two more question and answer sessions in late January and early February and those will be focused on basically answering questions that you give us with a little more time to do that then we've had today in case we didn't get to answer your question today. So in addition to the emails you can also tune into that. Please check back on our website next week for more information about how to register for those Q&A sessions and participate in them. So at this time I would like to conclude today's webcast. Thank you to Ryan and Robin for all the great information you provided. And of course thanks to everyone who joined us today.