The VGP applies to all commercial vessels at least 79 feet (24 meters) in length that enter US coastal waters and inland waterways. The regulation aims to control discharges from vessels, such as ballast water, in order to protect the nation’s waters from pollutants and invasive species. Smaller commercial vessels are instead subject to the sVGP (Small Vessel General Permit), which was issued in 2014. Naval and coast guard vessels as well as leisure boats (provided these are not used for commercial purposes) are excluded from the permit.
It is expected that VGP 2018 will address concerns arising from a successful legal challenge of the current VGP led by environmental organizations. This is likely to mean that the EPA’s regulations will be made more stringent, particularly those governing ballast water and onshore water treatment.
Preparation is key
Once the draft is published, the public will be given between 60 and 75 days to submit their comments. The EPA has announced that it plans to publish the final VGP by early fall 2018. While this might sound like a long time, it is crucial to start preparations now: The agency is already conducting studies and gathering information for its preliminary drafting.
Engaging with the process and staying up to date will help ensure you remain compliant when the rules come into force. Stayed tuned to Engineering at Sea for the latest updates and details on the upcoming VGP.
You can find more information and FAQs on the current VGP:bit.ly