EPA formalises VGP update delay

The final version of the Vessel General Permit will be delivered by March next year with at least a month for consultation (credit: EPA) The final version of the Vessel General Permit will be delivered by March next year with at least a month for consultation (credit: EPA)

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has set a new date of March 2019 for the update of its Vessel General Permit (VGP), which includes requirements for the use of environmentally acceptable lubricants (EALs).

The agency was originally due to release the third and final version of its VGP regulation for comment in late 2017, which it hoped would enable permits to be issued mid-2018. EPA now plans to include a consultation period on the redrafted regulation of at least 30 days.

The most onerous part of the VGP is 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, while DNV GL has yet to announce its own findings.

EPA will continue the current VGP until the new version enters into force. Vessels which are currently covered by the existing VGP are not required to take any further action. Operators of new vessels with a keel laid before 18 December are required to file a notice of intent (NOI) before that date to be covered by the VGP. Ships with keels laid after that date will be covered by the final VGP 3.0 once the permit is issued and the NOI filed.

A policy letter will be issued covering the new timeframe and interim measures, EPA said.

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