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GLIN==> Coast Guard ballast water standards

This will be of particular interest to Michigan citizens and
those interested in the Great Lakes.....

[Federal Register: September 26, 2003 (Volume 68, Number 187)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Page 55559-55563]
 >From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]


Coast Guard
33 CFR Part 151

Standards for Living Organisms in Ship's Ballast Water Discharged
in U.S. Waters

AGENCY: Coast Guard, DHS.
ACTION: Notice of intent with request for comments.


SUMMARY: The Coast Guard announces its intent to prepare and circulate
a Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS) for the proposed
regulatory action to establish a ballast water discharge standard. The
intent of this standard is to establish the required level of
environmental protection in preventing introductions and the spread of
nonindigenous species from ballast water discharges. The Coast Guard is
seeking public and agency input to develop the scope of this PEIS. The
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Department of Interior's
Fish and Wildlife Service, and U.S. Department of Commerce's National
Marine Fisheries Service will be participating in the development of
this PEIS as a Cooperating Agencies in accordance with Title 40, Code
of Federal Regulations, Sec.  1501.6.

DATES: Comments and related material must reach the Docket Management
Facility on or before December 26, 2003.

ADDRESSES: To make sure your comments and related material are not
entered more than once in the docket, please submit them by only one of
the following means:

(1) By mail to the Docket Management Facility (USCG-2001-10486), U.S.
Department of Transportation, room PL-401, 400 Seventh Street, SW.,
Washington, DC 20590-0001.
(2) By delivery to room PL-401 on the Plaza level of the Nassif
Building, 400 Seventh Street SW., Washington, DC, between 9 a.m. and 5
p.m., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays. The telephone
number is 202-366-9329.
(3) By fax to the Docket Management Facility at 202-493-2251.
(4) Electronically through the Web site for the Docket Management
System at <A HREF="http://dms.dot.gov";>http://dms.dot.gov</A>.

     In choosing among these means, please give due regard to the recent
difficulties and delays associated with the delivery of mail through
the U.S. Postal Service to Federal facilities. Delivery methods 2-4 of
those listed above are the preferred methods because security measures
taken by the USPS and the USCG mail reception facilities may seriously
damage or render unreadable comments sent via regular mail.
     The Docket Management Facility maintains the public docket for this
rulemaking. Comments and material received from the public, as well as
documents mentioned in this notice as being available in the docket,
will become part of this docket and will be available for inspection or
copying at room PL-401 on the Plaza level of the Nassif Building, 400
Seventh Street, SW., Washington, DC, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday
through Friday, except Federal holidays. You may also find this docket
at the following Web site address: <A 
     Electronic forms of all comments received into any of our dockets
can be searched by the name of the individual submitting the comment
(or signing the comment, if submitted on behalf of an association,
business, labor unit, etc) and is open to the public without
restriction. You may review the Department of Transportation's complete
Privacy Act Statement in the Federal Register published on April 11,
2000 (65 FR 19477-78), or you may visit <A 

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: For information concerning this PEIS,
call Mr. Brad McKitrick, Office of Standards Evaluation and Development
(G-MSR), U.S. Coast Guard, telephone 202-267-0995 or via e-mail
<A HREF="mailto:bmckitrick@comdt.uscg.mil";>bmckitrick@comdt.uscg.mil</A>. 
If you have any questions on viewing or

[[Page 55560]]

material to the docket, call Andrea M. Jenkins, Program Manager, Docket
Operations, Department of Transportation, telephone 202-366-0271.


Request for Comments

     The Coast Guard encourages interested persons to submit written
data, views, or comments. Persons submitting comments should please
include their name and address and identify the docket number (USCG-
2001-10486). You may submit your comments and material by mail, hand
delivery, fax, or electronic means to the Docket Management Facility at
the address under ADDRESSES; but please submit your comments and
material by only one means. If you submit them by mail or hand
delivery, submit them in an unbound format, no larger than 8\1/2\ by 11
inches, suitable for copying and electronic filing. If you submit them
by mail and would like to know they were received, please enclose a
stamped, self-addressed postcard or envelope.
     The Coast Guard invites comments and suggestions on the proposed
scope and content of the PEIS, as well as on the ideal means for
notifying and involving the public. The Coast Guard will consider all
comments received during the comment period.

Coast Guard's Transition to Department of Homeland Security

     On March 1, 2003, the Coast Guard became an Agency under the
Department of Homeland Security. As a result, the Secretary of the
Department of Homeland Security assumed all Coast Guard duties once
bestowed on the Secretary of the Department of Transportation.


     Under the National Invasive Species Act (NISA), Congress directed
the Coast Guard to develop regulations to prevent the introduction and
spread of nonindigenous species (NIS) in U.S. waters via ballast water
discharge. According to the National Research Council (see reference
1), the uptake and discharge of ballast water is one of the largest
pathways for the introduction and spread of aquatic NIS.
     Living organisms can survive the process of being loaded into the
ballast tanks, transported to different geographic locations, and
released into a new environment (i.e. U.S. waters). The probability
that NIS will survive once introduced into U.S. waters depends on a
large number of poorly understood factors. While many of the
transported NIS do not survive in U.S. waters, those that do may
establish populations, spread beyond the point of introduction, and
cause adverse changes in the recipient ecosystem. In many cases, there
can be significant time lags between when a NIS becomes established as
a reproducing population and when its distribution and abundance
increase to the extent that it becomes a recognized pest.

Legislative and Regulatory History

     Congress directed the Coast Guard to prevent the introductions of
NIS from ballast water in the Nonindigenous Aquatic Nuisance Prevention
and Control Act of 1990 (NANPCA), as reauthorized, and amended by the
National Invasive Species Act of 1996 (NISA). In response to this
direction, the Coast Guard established a program of mandatory
requirements and voluntary guidelines in Title 33 of the Code of
Federal Regulations part 151. Acceptable ballast water management (BWM)
methods include mid-ocean ballast water exchange (BWE), holding ballast
water onboard, discharging ballast water to an approved reception
facility, or use of an alternative Coast Guard approved BWM method. BWM
is mandated for vessels entering the Great Lakes and the Hudson River
but is voluntary in the rest of the U.S. waters.
     On May 1, 2001, we published a notice and request for public
comments (66 FR 21807) on four conceptual approaches to setting ballast
water treatment (BWT) standards and on approaches for assessing the
effectiveness of BWT relative to BWE. The comments we received revealed
a wide range of opinion, indicating the need for more discussion.
Subsequently, on March 4, 2002, we published an advance notice of
proposed rulemaking and request for comments (67 FR 9632) on the
development of a BWT standard. The Coast Guard is incorporating the
information we received in response to the advanced notice into the
proposed rulemaking.
     Over the past two years, the Coast Guard has used several venues to
explore options for BWT standards. These include technical discussions
organized by: (1) The International Maritime Organization's (IMO)
Global Ballast Water Program (Globallast); (2) the Ballast Water and
Shipping Committee of the U.S. Aquatic Nuisance Species Task Force; and
(3) the U.S. Coast Guard's Research and Development Center.
     Although the initial Federal Register publications were phrased in
terms of BWT standards, the critical issue has always been the quality
of the ballast water actually discharged from vessels. Therefore,
beginning with this notice the emphasis will be on requirements related
to ballast water discharges. This is also in line with the development
of ballast water discharge standards internationally.
     At the international level, in September 1995, the IMO identified
the NIS threat as a major issue confronting the international maritime
community. To address the issue, the IMO issued voluntary guidelines
titled, ``International Guidelines for Preventing the Introduction of
Unwanted Aquatic Organisms and Pathogens from Ships' Ballast Water and
Sediment Discharges.'' The IMO Marine Environment Protection Committee
(MEPC) is currently developing an international, legally binding,
instrument to mandate ballast water management, which would include an
international standard for ballast water discharge.


     Preliminary investigations to define the scope of environmental
issues that may be relevant to the proposed regulatory action indicate
that there is the potential for both beneficial and adverse effects to
the environment. The Coast Guard, in general, believes the proposed
regulatory action's effects on the environment will be significantly
beneficial. The Council on Environmental Quality's (CEQ) regulations
for implementing the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) state
that a significant environmental impact may exist even if an agency
believes that the net balance of environmental effects are beneficial.
Therefore, the Coast Guard has decided to prepare a PEIS.
     The matter of establishing a ballast water discharge (BWD) standard
for preventing the introduction of aquatic NIS involves two levels of
environmental impact consideration: (1) An evaluation of the remaining
probability of aquatic NIS introduction with the standard in place, as
well as the associated potential for environmental consequences from
introduction; and (2) the potential for environmental impacts from the
use of particular management methods to meet the established standard.
NISA calls for the use of environmentally sound \1\

[[Page 55561]]

ballast water management methods. Although no ballast water methods
have yet been demonstrated to work effectively and consistently on a
single vessel, let alone across a range of vessel types and operating
conditions, a number of methods are being actively investigated. These
methods currently include, among others, mid-ocean exchange;
filtration; hydrocyclonic separation; ultraviolet radiation; ultrasonic
impulses; oxidizing chemical biocides such as ozone, chlorine dioxide,
hypochlorite, and various electrolytically produced ions; non-oxidizing
organic chemicals; deoxygenation, and micro-scale shear forces. Some of
these methods, such as oxidizing chemicals, have a well known potential
to result in unwanted residuals and disinfection-by-products (DBPs),
and it is even possible that the physical methods might result in
unwanted changes to the quality of discharged water. These residuals,
DPBs, and changes to water quality may have adverse environmental
impacts. This PEIS will address the potential environmental impacts
from the varying levels of remaining organisms in discharged ballast
water that meets the BWD standard. However, when BWM methods are
developed to meet the BWD standard, follow-on environmental analyses to
determine environmental soundness will be conducted on each proposed
method brought forward for approval or certification.

     \1\ ``Environmentally sound'' methods, efforts, actions or
programs means methods, efforts, actions or programs to prevent
introductions or control infestations of aquatic nuisance species
that minimize adverse impacts to the structure and function of an
ecosystem and adverse effects on non-target organisms and ecosystems
and emphasize integrated pest management techniques and nonchemical
measures. The meaning of ``environmentally sound'' as described in
this footnote pertains to all occurrences of the term in this

     This PEIS is being prepared as a ``programmatic'' EIS since the
proposed regulatory action meets CEQ's definition of ``a broad Federal
action such as the adoption of agency programs or regulations'' (40 CFR
1502.4(b)). The PEIS will focus on an evaluation of the general
environmental impacts that may result from either taking No Action
(defined as not establishing BWD standards) or taking Action (defined
as choosing and mandating a BWD standard from among several possible
levels of management). The PEIS will be prepared in accordance with
NEPA, CEQ's ``Regulations for Implementing the Procedural Provisions of
NEPA,'' and the established Coast Guard NEPA procedures and policies,
as specified in, ``National Environmental Policy Act: Implementing
Procedures and Policy for Considering Environmental Impacts,''
     The proposed regulatory action is part of a national program of
regulations intended to prevent the introduction and spread of NIS via
discharged ballast water. Other active projects in the program include
a rule to impose penalties for noncompliance with mandatory aspects of
ballast water management (68 FR 523) and a rule that makes the current
voluntary BWM program mandatory (68 FR 44691). In order to determine
the potential effectiveness of experimental technologies designed to
treat ballast water for the removal of NIS aboard ship, the Coast Guard
will promote the installation of experimental technologies aboard
ships. Each project has been or will be analyzed under NEPA at the
appropriate and meaningful point during Coast Guard planning and
decision making.
     The PEIS will provide general environmental information on the
proposed action and alternatives to Coast Guard decision-makers, other
agencies, and the interested and affected public, and help to determine
whether implementing a regulatory BWD standard has the potential for
significant environmental impacts. The PEIS will also look at the
potential direct and indirect environmental impacts of each alternative
including not implementing a BWD standard (the ``No action''
alternative). In addition to complying with NEPA, obtaining the
information in the PEIS will ensure that the Coast Guard makes fully
informed decisions before choosing a final course of action. The Coast
Guard intends to continue to involve the public in these later
associated actions, as appropriate, and will also prepare further, more
specific, environmental analyses and documentation as necessary. The
Coast Guard considers this PEIS to be a first-tier environmental review
and may prepare subsequent NEPA analyses and documentation for future
individual actions and their site-specific impacts if such analyses are
not adequately covered by this PEIS.
     The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Department of
Interior's Fish and Wildlife Service, and U.S. Department of Commerce's
National Marine Fisheries Service will be participating in the PEIS
preparation as a Cooperating Agencies in accordance with Title 40, Code
of Federal Regulations, Sec.  1501.6.

Purpose of Proposed Action

     The purpose of the proposed action is to fulfill the need for a
ballast water discharge (BWD) standard to prevent the introduction and
spread of NIS via discharged ballast water. In the future, this
standard will be used to fulfill the Coast Guard authority under NISA
to approve BWM methods that are effective at helping to prevent the
introduction and spread of NIS via discharged ballast water.
     Under NISA, the minimum for this discharge standard is ``at least
as effective as ballast water exchange.'' It is difficult to determine
the effectiveness of BWE due in part to the wide variety of vessel
designs, ballast tank structures, and voyages. In addition, the Coast
Guard believes that to prevent the introduction and spread of NIS, the
ballast water discharge standard must relate to biological
effectiveness. Therefore, the Coast Guard is working to develop a
ballast water discharge (BWD) standard based on the level of protection
needed to prevent introductions and spread of NIS.
     The development of a BWD standard presents a complex challenge.
Technologies for removing NIS from ballast water are in the early
stages of development. These technologies need to be complementary with
existing vessels as well as future vessel designs. The BWD standard to
be achieved by these technologies must be environmentally sound.
Development of this BWD standard requires close collaboration between
government agencies, the scientific community, water treatment experts,
the shipping industry, and a wide range of stakeholders.

Proposed Action

     The proposed action is to establish a BWD standard that is
effective in preventing the introduction and spread of NIS via
discharged ballast water.

Need for Action

     Under NISA, Congress mandated that the Coast Guard establish
guidelines on BWM. Initially established as voluntary guidelines,
Congress directed the Secretary of Transportation to make the actions
prescribed in the guidelines mandatory if shipping industry compliance
with found to be insufficient.
     The next Congressionally required step is making the voluntary BWM
guidelines into a mandatory BWM program. The Coast Guard published an
NPRM on a mandatory BWM program for all U.S. waters on July 30, 2003
(68 FR 44691). This program would emphasize BWE, due to the lack of
availability of other BWM methods. However, most existing vessels are
not designed to conduct BWE, and in some cases, depending on vessel
design, age, load, and sea conditions, the practice can be unsafe.
Further, BWE is not an option for vessels moving along coastlines,
since BWE in coastal areas may increase the risk of bioinvasions.
Finally, even when conducted, the

[[Page 55562]]

effectiveness of BWE in removing NIS from ballast tanks can be quite
variable. These drawbacks combine to make BWE less than desirable as a
long-term approach to preventing introductions of NIS via ballast water
     Recognizing that BWE is not a long-term solution, and that some
vessels would not be able to consistently conduct effective BWE
operations, Congress provided, as part of its recommended management
actions, that vessel owners have the option of using BWM methods other
than BWE. The Secretary of Homeland Security can approve such BWM
methods if they are found to be at least as effective as BWE in
reducing the risk of NIS introductions. The marine industry and
scientific community are currently developing BWM methods and studying
their biological efficacy and engineering performance. To comply with
NISA and approve such BWM management methods as an alternative to BWE,
the Coast Guard must develop objective criteria and administrative
procedures for such approvals. The criteria include the quantitative
treatment requirements that must be accomplished by treatment
technologies. The first step to meeting the directives of NISA is to
develop a BWD standard.


     Reasonable alternatives that meet the established purpose and need
will be evaluated and considered in detail. Currently the Coast Guard
is examining a range of alternatives that vary in the degree to which
the discharge of organisms would be prevented.
     (1) Alternative 1: This alternative is the most stringent of all
the alternatives in preventing the introduction of NIS. This
alternative would comply with all current applicable environmental laws
and other environmental mandates, and result in the discharge of no
detectable viable organisms larger than 0.1 microns. This alternative
would also require the removal or inactivation of all membrane-bound
organisms (including bacteria), and most viruses, and would essentially
require the sterilization of ballast water.
     (2) Alternative 2: This alternative would fall between Alternative
1 and Alternative 3 in stringency. It would establish maximum
acceptable discharge concentrations for various types of potential
NIS--macrofauna, including fish and invertebrate zooplankton;
heterotrophic and autotrophic protists (phytoplankton); and other
microbes such as bacteria and viruses--to greatly reduce the risk of
future introductions. Alternative 2 would also comply with all current
applicable environmental laws and other environmental mandates. It
would result in the discharge of no more than a particular number of
viable individuals per liter of zooplankton greater than a cut-off size
in microns and no more than a particular number of phytoplankton
greater than a cut-off size, and discharge of a specified set of
indicator microbes not to exceed specified concentrations. These
standards could include the establishment of indicator species for use
in approval and compliance testing. Concentration numbers have not been
stated in the above description, as we are requesting comments from the
public regarding the conceptual approach and the quantitative
concentrations that should be specified. However the Coast Guard
anticipates that the concentration number will fall between Alternative
1 and Alternative 3.
     (3) Alternative 3: No Action. This alternative is the least
stringent of the range of alternatives in preventing the introduction
of NIS and would not establish a BWD standard. Instead, under the
mandatory BWM program established according to the directives in NISA,
it would be applicable to vessels equipped with ballast tanks entering
U.S. waters after operating beyond the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).
As currently framed, the mandatory BWM program directs vessels to
either conduct BWE or retain ballast water onboard or use a reception
facility or another environmentally sound management method approved by
the Coast Guard. Currently, few vessels have the ability to retain
ballast water onboard and still conduct commercial activities, and no
reception facility has been built to treat ballast water for removal of
NIS. In addition, no environmentally sound methods to manage ballast
water, other than BWE, have been approved by the Coast Guard. Thus, for
the near future, the No Action alternative would mean that the primary
mandatory BWM practice vessels would conduct is mid-ocean BWE when safe
and feasible. Those vessel owners desiring to use some other ballast
water management method would be required to demonstrate that the
proposed method was at least as effective as BWE, on that vessel.
     The Coast Guard is requesting input on any additional alternatives
for analysis, any environmental concerns the public may have related to
the alternatives for establishing a BWD standard, suggested analyses or
methodologies for inclusion in the PEIS, and possible sources of
relevant data or information.


     The following environmental requirements have been tentatively
identified for analysis in the PEIS and are presented to facilitate
public comment during the scoping process of the PEIS. This list of
requirements is neither intended to be all-inclusive nor to be a
predetermined set of potential impacts. Additions to or deletions from
the list of issues may occur as a result of the scoping process. The
environmental requirements include the following:
     (1) Endangered or Threatened Species: Potential impacts to
endangered or threatened marine life and birds from each of the
     (2) Essential Fish Habitat: Potential effects to waters and
substrate necessary to fish for spawning, breeding, feeding, or growth
to maturity from each of the alternatives.
     (3) Other Biological Habitats and Organisms: Potential impacts to
aquatic vegetation and benthic organisms from each of the alternatives.
     (4) Coastal and Marine Birds: Potential impacts to coastal marine
and birds from each of the alternatives.
     (5) Aquatic Resources: Potential effects to marine mammals, sea
turtles, and fisheries species from each of the alternatives.
     (6) Water Quality: Potential impact to water quality resulting from
each of the alternatives.
     (7) Air Quality: Potential impact to air quality resulting from
each of the alternatives.
     (8) Great Lakes/Hudson River environment/resources.
     (9) Socio-economics: Potential impact to recreational activities
(including fishing), tourism, commercial fisheries, commercial
infrastructure (including power plants and water treatment facilities),
maritime commerce, and subsistence activities due to each of the
     (10) Public Health and Safety: Potential impacts to public health
and safety associated with each of the alternatives.

Public Meetings

     Five public scoping meetings will be held during the public comment
period of this notice. Notice of those meetings will be published in
the Federal Register. All appropriate comments provided at the public
scoping meetings, both written and oral, will be considered in the
preparation of the Draft and Final PEIS and will become part of the
public record (i.e., names, addresses, letters of comments, comments
provided during the public meeting).

[[Page 55563]]

     Once the Draft PEIS is published, the Coast Guard will hold
additional public meeting(s). Notice of those meetings will be
published in the Federal Register. All appropriate comments provided at
the public meeting(s), both written and oral, will be considered in the
preparation of the Final PEIS and will become part of the public record
(i.e., names, addresses, letters of comments, comments provided during
the public meeting).


1. National Research Council. 1996. Stemming the Tide: Controlling
Introductions of Nonindigenous Species by Ships' Ballast Water.
National Academy Press, Washington, DC.

     Dated: September 17, 2003.
Joseph J. Angelo,
Director of Standards, Marine Safety, Security & Environmental
[FR Doc. 03-24138 Filed 9-25-03; 8:45 am]


Alex J. Sagady & Associates        http://www.sagady.com

Environmental Enforcement, Permit/Technical Review, Public Policy,
Evidence Review and Litigation Investigation on Air, Water and
Waste/Community Environmental and Resource Protection
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PO Box 39,  East Lansing, MI  48826-0039
(517) 332-6971; (517) 332-8987 (fax); ajs@sagady.com

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