EPA to develop VGP replacement post-VIDA

The EPA will develop regulations to replace the Vessel General Permit within two years (credit: EPA) The EPA will develop regulations to replace the Vessel General Permit within two years (credit: EPA)

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is to develop new regulations governing vessel incidental discharges following President Trump’s approval of the Vessel Incidental Discharge Act (VIDA) on 4 December 2018.

The existing 2013 VGP requirements will remain in effect until the new regulations have taken effect. The new regulations are not expected to be introduced before 2020, and may take up to four years to be phased in.

In the meantime, the previously-announced deadline for the submission of notices of intent (NOI) of 18 December was suspended. In other words, vessels which are currently covered by the existing VGP are not required to take any further action.

The main impact of the approval was to abolish with immediate effect the preceding sVGP regime that governed vessels under 79 feet long and commercial fishing vessels.

Until the US Coast Guard or EPA develop draft guidelines, it will be difficult to assess the effect of VIDA. However, ballast water treatment system (BWTS) producers do not expect existing standards to be watered down.

The Motorship previously reported that the most onerous part of the VGP was the requirement of EALs at all sea-ship interfaces – a practice that has proved challenging for ship owners, with several instances of damaged seals and bearings blamed on low-quality lubricants. Class society ABS has completed a major review of EALs.

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