11/18/2014: Coast Guard and EPA take action on North American and U.S. Caribbean Sea Emission Control Area enforcement and compliance

The Coast Guard and EPA will soon take action to ensure compliance with the forthcoming 0.10 percent fuel sulphur limits in the North American and U.S. Caribbean Sea Emmission Control Areas, or ECAs.

“We will be coordinated in our efforts to ensure compliance with the new requirements effective 1 Jan, 2015,” said Rear Adm. Paul Thomas, assistant commandant for Prevention Policy at U.S. Coast Guard Headquarters. “That includes working with EPA to actively check for compliance and taking appropriate enforcement action.”

The Coast Guard will continue to check Bunker Delivery Notes and other records during Port State and Flag State visits to vessels. The Coast Guard and EPA are developing plans for joint boardings of vessels as well, that will include fuel oil sampling and in-the-field screening for sulphur levels.

“Working closely with our partners at the Coast Guard, we’re stepping up our compliance efforts and will take targeted enforcement actions when necessary,” said Cynthia Giles, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. “Making sure that everyone plays by the rules will help level the playing field for companies that comply, while reducing harmful air pollution in coastal and inland communities.”

Maritime Commons will continue to provide updates as details of the Coast Guard and EPA ECA enforcement and compliance plans are available.

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17 Responses

  1. rwells78 says:

    Can the USCG clarify how this change will be applied. For example does all of the non-compliant fuel need to be used or otherwise removed from a vessel by 1 January? Or as long as a vessel can show they have only consumed compliant fuel on or after 1 Jan are they in compliance even with non-compliant fuel on the vessel?

  2. LT Jodie Knox says:

    Thank you for your comment. Please allow me some time to get back to you with a response.

    Warm regards,

    Lt. Jodie Knox

  3. LT Jodie Knox says:

    Hello rwells78,

    Our compliance program will confirm that vessels burn 0.1% sulfur fuel (compliant fuel) while in the North American and U.S. Caribbean Sea Emission Control Area (ECA). Vessels that only operate within the ECA will be expected to have only compliant fuel onboard the vessel.

    For vessels that enter the ECA, we will check to see that there is sufficient compliant fuel onboard, that the vessel changed over to compliant fuel prior to entering the ECA, and that it has enough compliant fuel for its intended voyage until it departs the ECA.

    Please let me know if you have any further questions.

    Lt. Jodie Knox

  4. Neil Glasgow says:

    On any given day, thousands of ships are cruising, or anchored, within the US emission control area. How will the US Coast Guard logistically oversee such a large number of vessels to guarantee compliance with EPA guidelines starting January 2015?

  5. LT Jodie Knox says:

    Neil,

    Thank you for your comment. Please allow me some time to get back to you with a response.

    Warm regards,
    Lt. Jodie Knox

  6. Russell D'Souza says:

    What about vessels that call the US after 1st Jan 2015 that do not have the fuel oil tank capacity to store 0.1% low sulphur fuel for the duration of their stay in US ports and within the 200 miles range, or those that cannot bunker the low sulphur at the last port. Will they be able to file a Fuel Oil Non Availibility Report and be exempt, depending on the situation?

  7. Russell D'Souza says:

    For vessels that do not have sufficient tank capacity to accomodate 0.1% low sulphur fuel oil on board during their long stay in US ports – especially if they only call those ports that do not have the capacity to bunker, then can the vessel file for an exemption?

  8. LT Jodie Knox says:

    Russell,

    Thank you for both of your questions. Please allow me some time to get back to you with a response.

    Warm regards,
    Lt. Jodie Knox

  9. LT Jodie Knox says:

    Neil,

    Thank you for your question. This regulation is no different than any other regulation. We ensure compliance by scheduled and unscheduled examinations and inspections. In the case of the ECA we may also rely on remote sensors to help identify vessels that may not be in compliance. We are incorporating compliance checks with the new ECA standard into our ongoing compliance inspections and we require non-compliant vessels to come into compliance when we discover deficiencies. Non-compliant vessels may also be subject to fines.

  10. LT Jodie Knox says:

    Russell,

    Thank you for your question. Based on the extensive interactions we have had with industry, we believe that ships will have adequate tank capacity; voyage planning should include measures to ensure an adequate supply of compliant fuel.

    Fuel Oil Non Availability Reports, or FONARS, are an acknowledgement of non compliance but not a pass. The EPA owns the FONAR process and the EPA webpage on FONARs provides the most current guidance

    The main point to address is whether a ship we are inspecting is using the proper fuel and, if it does not, why is the ship not using the proper fuel? Answers to this question will factor into our compliance and enforcement strategy for such a vessel.

    In general, yes, it will be case-by-case. However, if a vessel has no tank capacity because the owner/operator choose to use all the available tank volume for higher sulfur fuel, that may be considered as a case of poor planning.

  11. LT Jodie Knox says:

    Russell,

    Thank you for your question. For the reasons stated in a recent answer to a question posted in this string, we do not believe that tank capacity will be a concern. If this does happen, we will analyze the situation and come forward with an appropriate compliance strategy.

    If a vessel has no tank capacity because the owner/operator choose to use all the available tank volume for higher sulfur fuel, that may be considered as a case of poor planning.

    Exemptions under MARPOL Annex VI are only granted for research and development programs that must burn noncompliant fuel in order to test the efficacy of an alternate compliance technology. For example, a vessel must burn noncompliant fuel in order to test the efficacy of an air scrubber.

  12. Neil Glasgow says:

    Lt. Jodie,
    Could you be more specific on how you define the term remote sensors; such as the type and deployment method?

  13. LT Jodie Knox says:

    Neil,

    Thank you for your question. Please allow me some time to provide a response.

    Warm regards,

    Lt. Jodie Knox

  14. LT Jodie Knox says:

    The response to this question has been provided by the EPA and Coast Guard:

    The EPA is in the evaluation, exploration and development phase of potential surveillance options, such as conducting flyovers of vessels to sample emissions. The Coast Guard and EPA support technological developments that will assist with compliance.

  15. Georgios Houndalas says:

    Dear Mr. Knox good day,

    Many thanks for your valuable information.
    As of know the 0.1% fuel availability is scarce in all the major bunkering ports.
    In that case what we can do to get inside to the SECA areas.

  16. LT Jodie Knox says:

    Georgios,

    Thank you for your question. Please allow me some time to provide you with a response.

    Warm regards,

    Lt. Jodie Knox

  17. LT Jodie Knox says:

    Georgios,

    Thank you for your patience. We have received reports stating that 0.10% sulphur fuel oil is available, though there may be some delays experienced in delivery.

    Voyage planning is critical. Vessel owners/operators must be careful when selecting bunker ports to ensure compliant fuel can be delivered when needed. If compliant fuel oil cannot be located, the vessel may need to wait to receive fuel oil before entering the ECA.

    Warm regards,

    Lt. Jodie Knox