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Summary of Applicable Statutes, Regulations, and Guidelines

The specific marine environmental compliance requirements that are contained in NOAA's ship audit protocol are derived from international protocols and guidelines, Federal statutes and regulations, and internal NOAA Corps (NC) instructions. It is important to recognize that NOAA ships are somewhat unique as seagoing vessels and "public vessels" owned and operated by the United States, both in function and legal status. Accordingly, they are often technically exempt from various environmental laws and regulations that apply to onshore facilities and commercial vessels, as stipulated in the laws and regulations themselves. In other cases, although they are not specifically exempted from the laws and regulations, these laws and regulations may be clearly "not applicable" because vessels meet none of the criteria specified in the law or regulation. Often, although the laws and regulations are not technically binding, the intent and provisions of the laws and regulations are applicable to NOAA vessels through Executive Orders or NOAA Corps Instructions. In some cases, protocol requirements are considered "good marine practice" based on the procedures followed by other seagoing services.

The following discussion provides a concise overview of the statutes, regulations, and guidelines that pertain to specific shipboard environmental compliance issues, and explains why certain statutory areas would not be applicable to NOAA Corps vessels. The table summarizes the applicable international protocols, Federal statutes and regulations, and NOAA Corps instructions.

General Air Emissions. The primary statutes addressing air emissions in the United States are the Clean Air Act (CAA) of 1977 and the Clean Air Act Amendments (CAAA) of 1990. These statutes define the national strategy and program for improving air quality nationwide. Implementation and enforcement of these regulations is accomplished at the State level through the Air Quality Control Region (AQCR) regulations. There are currently no national standards for vessel emissions, and seagoing vessels would not qualify as emission sources or facilities under Federal permitting requirements of the CAAA. However, NOAA vessels may be subject to specific State requirements in home port and ports of entry-particularly in States which are not in attainment of one or more national ambient air quality standard.

At present there are no international guidelines for vessel air emissions. However, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) is in the process of formulating vessel air quality guidelines under the IMO Convention for the Prevention of Marine Pollution (MARPOL) 73/78.

Ozone Depleting Substances (ODS). The Montreal Protocol, an international agreement, calls for the end of production of ozone-depleting chemicals within 10 years. The Clean Air Act (CAA) of 1977, Section 608, and Amendments of 1990 are the applicable Federal Statutes. The Federal regulations governing the control and abatement of ODS refrigerants, the most common ODS aboard vessels, are contained in 40 CFR 82. These regulations apply to the substance itself rather than the specific location or activity, and hence the provisions are directly applicable to NOAA vessels. Procedures or the handling and abatement of ODS refrigerants aboard NOAA vessels are specified in NC Instruction 9516, "Chlorofluorocarbon Refrigerant Abatement".

Asbestos Abatement. The control of airborne asbestos is addressed in the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) with asbestos control regulations provided in 40 CFR 60-61. These regulations address the handling and disposal of asbestos under all circumstances and do not specifically exclude vessels. The provisions of 40 CFR 60-61 have been amplified and made part of NOAA operating procedures by NC Instruction 5100.1B "Safety Standards for Ships of the NOAA Fleet" and the "NOAA Fleet Hazardous Materials and Hazardous Waste Manual". In addition, States and local port municipalities may have stricter regulations governing asbestos, particularly asbestos disposal.

Sewage and Graywater Discharge at Sea. MARPOL Annex IV sets forth international regulations for the Prevention by Sewage from Ships and specifies discharge limitations and treatment requirements (performance specifications for marine sanitation devices). Although this Annex has not been formally adopted by the United States, similar requirements on the discharge and treatment of sewage are set forth for U.S. vessels in 33 CFR 159, which applies to public vessels. Under 40 CFR 140, States may establish "no discharge" zones for the discharge of any sewage. Regulations on the discharge of graywater may apply at the State or local home port level. Some States and municipalities have adopted regulations and ordinances which limit the discharge of graywater in certain areas.

Discharges to Shore Side Treatment Plants. The primary Federal statute addressing discharge of sewage to Shore Side treatment plants is the Clean Water Act of 1977, with specific implementation, monitoring and enforcement provisions set forth in 40 CFR 503. These provisions apply to vessels when discharging sewage and graywater to publicly or Federally-owned treatment works (POTW/FOTW).

Ballast Water Management. In recent years, the control of ship's ballast water has become an important environmental issue as the uncontrolled loading, transport, and discharge of ballast water from port-to-port has resulted in the migration of unwanted non-indigenous species, and the introduction of pathogens into coastal areas. The International Maritime Organization (IMO) has adopted a voluntary Resolution (A.774(18)) calling for the deep ocean exchange of ballast water to prevent the introduction of unwanted aquatic organisms and pathogens. This resolution has been published as a voluntary guideline for ships entering U.S. coastal areas by the U.S. Coast Guard. To prevent further introduction into the Great Lakes and Hudson River, 33 CFR 1500 requires deep ocean ballast water exchange (or equivalent control measures) for all vessels entering these areas. In keeping with the intent of these regulations and guidelines, Coast Guard and Navy vessels are now routinely exchanging ballast water outside of the 12 nautical mile (nm) limit prior to entering U.S. ports from foreign voyages.

Solid Waste Management and Recycling. The Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) is the primary Federal statute addressing the recycling and disposal of solid waste. The mandates of this statute are implemented through 40 CFR 243. Executive Order 12873 requires Federal agencies to promote cost-effective waste reduction and recycling at their "activities". Although RCRA and 40 CFR 243 do not specifically apply to U.S. public vessels, many of the provisions and practices contained in them have been included as good management practice, and as a means for complying with the discharge at sea restrictions contained in MARPOL 73/78 Annex V and 33 CFR 151.51 through 151.77.

Disposal of Garbage at Sea. The disposal of garbage and other waste at sea, a long-standing marine practice, has come under increasing scrutiny in recent years with special focus on the disposal of plastics and hazardous materials. MARPOL 73/78 Annex V addresses the Prevention of Pollution by Garbage at Sea at the International level. The Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships formally adopts MARPOL Annex V within the United States. The specific requirements of Annex V are implemented for the U.S. through 33 CFR 151. Although vessels "operated by the United States when engaged in non-commercial service" are technically excluded by 33 CFR 151.51(b)(1), the provisions of 33 CFR 151 are in force for NOAA vessels through NOAA Corps Instruction 5100.1B.

Disposal of USDA Regulated Food Waste. Garbage and unused food originating outside of the U.S. must be handled according to USDA requirements to prevent the dissemination of foreign pest and diseases that pose a danger to U.S. public health and agriculture. These requirements are specified in 7 CFR 330; advance notification requirements for vessels entering U.S. ports are contained in 7 CFR 330.111.

Disposal of Medical Waste at Sea. The U.S. Public Vessel Medical Waste Anti-Dumping Act prohibits the dumping of medical waste by public vessels into ocean waters, except during wartime or emergency conditions. The Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) addresses the handling and disposal of medical wastes. OSHA applies to Federal employees through Executive Order. Regulations governing the handling and disposal of medical waste are contained in 40 CFR 240 and 29 CFR 1910.1030.

Management and Disposal of Wastes Containing Hazardous Substances. The primary Federal Statute dealing with the handling, storage, treatment, and disposal of hazardous wastes is the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA). This statute is implemented through the regulations contained in 40 CFR 260 through 268. Handling of waste oil is addressed in 40 CFR 279. From the permitting perspective under RCRA, NOAA vessels are not considered hazardous waste generators. However, they do accumulate and handle "wastes containing hazardous materials" which become hazardous wastes under RCRA when transferred to Shore Side facilities. Accordingly, identification, handling, storage, and disposal guidelines have been developed in NC Instruction 6280B, Hazardous Materials and Hazardous Waste Policy, Guidance and Training" and the NOAA Fleet Hazardous Materials and Hazardous Waste (HM/HW) Manual.

Oil and Oily Waste Handling and Discharge. MARPOL 73/78, Annex I provides international requirements for the shipboard handling of oily wastes and the prevention of oil and oily waste discharges at sea. Annex I is implemented in the United States by the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships (AAPS). Discharge of oil and oily wastes into U.S. navigable waters is also prohibited under Section 311 of the Clean Water Act. U.S. regulations for the handling and discharge of oil and oily wastes are contained in 33 CFR 151. The provisions of 33 CFR 151 apply to all vessels subject to Annex I (Includes NOAA vessels). NC Instruction 5100.1B, Safety Standards for Ships of the NOAA Fleet, Section 9-2, provides specific guideline for NOAA vessels.

Prevention of Oil Discharge During Oil Transfer Operations. The transfer of oil to and from NOAA vessels is regulated by 33 CFR 156, Oil and Hazardous Material Transfer Operations, providing that the vessel can carry 250 barrels of more of oil. These regulations are further amplified by NC Instruction, 5100.1B, Safety Standards for Ships of the NOAA Fleet, Section 9-2 .2 and 9-2.3.

Spill Contingency Planning and Response. International requirements for shipboard oil spill contingency planning and response are contained in MARPOL 73/78, Annex I, Regulation 26 (Shipboard oil pollution emergency plan). This requirement is implemented in the U.S. through the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships (AAPS) as specified in 33 CFR 151. Internal guidance for oil spill preparedness and response is contained in NC Instruction 9540, Shipboard Oil Pollution Emergency Plans, and the generic NOAA Fleet Shipboard Oil Pollution Emergency Plan (SOPEP).

The Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act of 1980 and theSuperfund Amendments and Reauthorization Act of 1986 (CERCLA/SARA). Vessels are excluded under the definition of "facility" (40 CFR 302.2). Therefore, the provisions of CERCLA/SARA would not apply to NOAA Corps ships.

Management of Environmental Impacts. The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) is the primary mandate for Federal agencies in ensuring that their activities do not cause adverse impacts to the environment. Normally, operations by NOAA vessels will not result in such impacts. Additional mandates for the protection of endangered species, marine mammals, and sensitive marine environments are provided by the Endangered Species Act (ESA) of 1993, the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA), and the Marine Protection, Research, and Sanctuaries Act of 1972 (MPRSA). NOAA vessels are thus required to monitor their activities when operating in areas where endangered species, marine mammals, or sensitive marine environments are known to exist, to prevent or mitigate adverse impacts.

Hazardous Materials Transport. The primary statute covering the management of hazardous materials in the United States is the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) last amended in November of 1990. OSHA is implemented through 29 CFR 1910. Although OSHA does not directly apply to Federal personnel and facilities under the act itself, Executive Order 12196 makes the intent and provisions of OSHA applicable to Federal employees. The Hazardous Materials Transportation Act of 1975 governs the transportation of hazardous materials. Although NOAA vessels are not transporters of hazardous materials, NOAA vessel personnel must comply with the provisions of the law as implemented in 49 CFR 171-172 when consigning hazardous materials for transport by a commercial carrier. Internal guidance on hazardous materials identification, handling, storage are provided in NC Instruction 6820, Hazardous Materials and Hazardous Waste Policy, Guidance and Training" and the NOAA Fleet Hazardous Materials and Hazardous Waste (HM/HW) Manual.

Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA). The Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (also known as SARA Title III) is designed to promote emergency planning and preparedness at both the State and local level in response to spills and releases of extremely hazardous substances, hazardous substances, toxic chemicals and RCRA hazardous wastes as defined in 30 CFR 355, 40 CFR 302. 40 CFR 372.65, and 40 CFR 261.33. Under Section 329 of EPCRA, a "facility" includes buildings, equipment, structures, and other stationary items. Under Emergency Notification provisions (Section 304), a "facility" includes motor vehicles, rolling stock, and aircraft. Vessels are not explicitly identified. Therefore, active seagoing NOAA vessels would be exempt from EPCRA. In addition, NOAA vessels would not hold reportable quantities of chemicals covered under EPCRA.

Cultural and Historic Resources Management. The primary U.S. Statute governing the preservation of cultural and historic resources is the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) of 1966. The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) also addresses adverse impacts to cultural and historic resources through Federal actions. There are no vessels in the NOAA fleet which qualify as historic sites. In addition, NOAA vessel operations do not impact on cultural or historic resources. Accordingly, these statutes and regulations do not apply to NOAA vessels.

Storage Tank Management. The storage tank management provisions of RCRA do not apply to tanks aboard NOAA vessels. Onboard portable storage tank requirements are addressed under Hazardous Materials Management.

Shipboard Drinking Water Supplies. The primary statute protecting drinking water resources in the United States is the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA). Some NOAA vessels could be required to comply with the provisions of the SDWA. Sections 1412, 1414 and 1415(a) of the SDWA authorize the EPA to promulgate drinking water regulations and specific operating procedures for public water systems, which are either community or non-community water systems under 40 CFR 141.2. In 1987, EPA amended 40 CFR 141.2 to include "non-transient, non-community water systems" that serve at least the same 25 people for 6 months per year. This definition includes many workplace and institutional water systems that collect or treat drinking water for internal (on-site) consumption, and could include larger vessels in the NOAA Corps fleet. NOAA vessels also must comply with the provisions of NC Instruction 5100.1B, Safety Standards for Ships of the NOAA Fleet, Section 8-6, and Appendix D of the NOAA Fleet Medical Policy Manual (USPHS Pub. No. 68).

PCB Management. The management and abatement of PCBs in the United States is governed by the provisions of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). This statute is implemented by the regulations contained in 40 CFR 761. The PCB-containing items most likely to be found aboard NOAA vessels are electrical insulation, gaskets and other solid materials which are covered by 40 CFR 761.30.

Pesticide Management. The Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), as last amended in December 1991, deals with the sale, distribution, transportation, storage, and use of pesticides. The provisions of the statute are implemented by the regulations in 40 CFR 152, 40 CFR 165-166 and 40 CFR 171.

Environmental Radiation Protection. The Atomic Energy Act of 1954, as Amended, established the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), and addresses the use, possession, storage and disposal of nuclear source material, byproduct material, and special nuclear material. Regulations promulgated by the NRC under this Act also address the packaging of radioactive material for transport. NOAA vessels are legally and functionally exempt from these regulations. Guidance for handling low-level radioactive material that may be carried aboard ship in provided in Supplement # 7 of the NOAA Fleet Hazardous Materials and Hazardous Waste Manual. Management of these materials as hazardous materials is covered in Section 7 of this protocol.

Summary Matrix of International Protocols, Federal Statutes and Regulations,
and NOAA Guidelines Applicable to NOAA Vessels

COMPLIANCE
TOPIC
INTERNATIONAL
PROTOCOL
FEDERAL LAWS
AND REGS.
NOAA
INSTRUCTIONS
GENERAL AIR
EMISSIONS
None at present Clean Air Act (CAA)
Clean Air Act Amendments (CAAA)
as implemented by State AQCR regulations
No specific instruction
OZONE DEPLETING
SUBSTANCES
Montreal Protocol CAA Section 608
CAAA of 1990
40 CFR 82
NC Instruction 9516
ASBESTOS
ABATEMENT
None at present Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) NC Instruction 5100.1B Section 9-6, NOAA Fleet HM/HW Manual
SEWAGE AND
GRAYWATER
DISCHARGE AT SEA
None at present
MARPOL 73/78, Annex IV pending adoption
Clean Water Act (CWA)
33 CFR 159
40 CFR 140
NC Instruction 5100.1B Section 9-3
DISCHARGES TO
SHORE SIDE
TREATMENT
FACILITIES
No international guidelines, specific guidelines may apply for foreign ports Clean Water Act (CWA) as amended.
40 CFR 503
No specific instruction.
BALLAST WATER
MANAGEMENT
IMO Resolution A.774(18) Non-Indigenous Species Control Act National Invasive Species Control Act 33 CFR 1500 No specific instruction. Coast Guard and Navy practice ballast water exchange beyond 12 nm.
DISPOSAL OF
GARBAGE AT SEA
MARPOL 73/78, Annex V Clean water Act Refuse Act
33 CFR 151
NC Instruction 5100.1B Section 9-4
DISPOSAL OF USDA
REGULATED FOOD
WASTE
None 7 CFR 330 No specific instruction
WASTE CONTAINING
HAZARDOUS
MATERIALS
None RCRA provisions as per NOAA Instructions NC Instruction 6280B NOAA Fleet HM/HW Manual
OIL AND OILY
WASTE HANDLING
AND DISCHARGE
MARPOL 73/78, Annex I
Regs. 9, 10, 16 and 20
Clean Water Act
33 CFR 152
NC Instruction 5100.1B Section 9-2
PREVENTION OF OIL
DISCHARGE
DURING OIL
TRANSFER
OPERATIONS
None Clean Water Act
33 CFR 156
NC Instruction 5100.1B Section 9-2
SPILL
CONTINGENCY
PLANNING AND
RESPONSE
MARPOL 73/78, Annex I Regulation 26 33 CFR 151.26 NC Instruction 9540 NOAA Fleet Shipboard Oil Pollution Emergency Plan.
ENVIRONMENTAL
IMPACT
MITIGATION
Madrid Protocol for Antarctic ESA of 1973
MMPA
MPRSA of 1972
No specific instruction
HAZARDOUS
MATERIALS
MANAGEMENT
None OSHA as applicable through E.O. 12196 Hazardous Materials Transportation Act 29 CFR 1910 40 CFR 171-172 NC Instruction 6280B NOAA Fleet
HM/HW Manual
SHIPBOARD
DRINKING WATER
SUPPLY
None Safe Drinking Water Act 40 CFR 140 NC Instruction 5100.1B Section 8-6
NOAA Fleet Medical Policy Manual, Appendix D
PCB MANAGEMENT None TSCA
40 CFR 761
No specific instructions
PESTICIDE MANAGEMENT None FIFRA
40 CFR 151
40 CFR 165-166
40 CFR 171
 

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