News 22 Jun, 2010

USA - State of New York Vessel General Permit Ballast Water Requirements

Members will be aware that following the introduction of the Vessel General Permit (VGP) , some States have specified additional, more stringent compliance requirements than those stated in the VGP. With regard to ballast water management New York State has introduced additional permit conditions that are summarised below.

At present any vessel covered by the requirements of the VGP entering New York waters whose voyage originates within the United States Exclusive Economic Zone must exchange ballast water beforehand or, when there are only residual amounts of ballast water and/or sediment, flush the ballast tanks with sea water prior to arrival. All such operations must be conducted at least 50 nautical miles offshore in waters at least 200 metres deep so that the resultant salinity level of ballast water is at least 30 parts per thousand (ppt)  The average salinity of sea water is around 35 ppt. However, this requirement does not apply to certain vessels, such as those operating exclusively within the waters of New York Harbour, or if such ballast water exchange activities will threaten the safety or stability of the vessel.

On 1 January 2012 the State of New York requirements in respect of ballast water management will change. As from that date, each vessel to which the VGP applies shall, when operating in New York waters, have a ballast water treatment system onboard. The requirements shall not apply to vessels working exclusively within New York Harbour and Long Island Sound or that carry only permanent ballast in sealed tanks that is not discharged. It should be noted that New York’s forthcoming standards for ballast water treatment are far more stringent than those specified in the International Convention for the Control and Management of Ships’ Ballast Water and Sediments, adopted by the IMO in 2004 but which is yet to enter into force internationally.
Notwithstanding the foregoing, an extension to the date of implementation of this requirement may be requested from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), provided there is sufficient justification for such a request.

The regulations state:

“Any such extension request shall state and demonstrate that : (1) there is a shortage in supply of the technology necessary to meet the limits set forth in this certification, or a vessel specific engineering constraint, or other factor related to the availability and installation of technology beyond the vessel owners/operator’s control, that delays the technology being available and installed in time to comply with this standard; (2) the unavailability of supply or installation constraint is the only reason the 1 January 2012 date cannot be met; and (3) the vessel has exhausted all other options to comply with this standard”.

A request for an extension to the implementation date must be made no later than 30 June 2010, also indicating when the vessel(s) concerned will comply.

The World Shipping Council (WSC) has kindly provided the International Group of P&I Clubs with a generic letter  to the New York DEC pointing out that at present there is no technology commercially available that meets the new requirements, testing protocols, standards or methods of testing such technology, and it is unlikely that such technology will become available prior to the expiration of the present VGP on 19 December 2013. The letter requests an extension to the implementation date of the new requirement until the expiration of the present VGP.

The WSC letter has been drafted for use by its members. However, the letter may be suitably amended and used by other parties.  Please note that several exhibits are referred to in the text but are not attached. The footnote on page 2 explains:

"As noted above, Exhibit 1 is attached.  Exhibits 2-10 are hereby incorporated by reference.  Those exhibits have been provided separately to DEC by the World Shipping Council, of which we are a Member”.

The guidance contained in this article is an overview of the VGP regulatory requirements affecting New York State. Members are advised to check the detailed legislative requirements to ensure that their ships comply. Further information on the VGP regulations can be found in BIMCO’s useful publication ‘Your BIMCO Guide to Prepare for the US National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System – Vessel General Permit’ .

In the event of any queries, please contact the Loss Prevention department.