[Federal Register Volume 75, Number 209 (Friday, October 29, 2010)]
[Pages 66757-66759]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2010-27452]

[[Page 66757]]



[EPA-HQ-OW-2010-0828; FRL-9218-8]

Stakeholder Input; Listening Session Seeking Suggestions for 
Improving the Next National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System 
(NPDES) General Permit for Discharges Incidental to the Normal 
Operation of Vessels

AGENCY: Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

ACTION: Notice.


SUMMARY: The Environmental Protection Agency is announcing plans to 
hold a ``listening session'' on December 15, 2010 to obtain suggestions 
from the public for improving the next Vessel General Permit (VGP). The 
listening session will be held in the EPA East Building, 1201 
Constitution Ave., NW., Room 1153, Washington, DC 20004. The VGP is a 
Clean Water Act NPDES permit that authorizes, on a nationwide basis, 
discharges incidental to the normal operation of vessels as specified 
in Part 1.2.2 of the 2008 VGP. EPA seeks the views of the interested 
public on the requirements currently contained in the 2008 VGP, and any 
changes or additions recommended for the next VGP. The 2008 VGP expires 
on December 19, 2013 and EPA has begun the process of developing the 
next VGP.

DATES: The listening session will be held in Washington DC on December 
15, 2010. If you would prefer to provide written comments, EPA is 
asking for comments or relevant information from the interested public 
to be submitted to the docket on or before December 31, 2010.

ADDRESSES: Submit your statements or input, identified by Docket ID No. 
EPA-HQ-OW-2010-0828 by one of the following methods:
     http://www.regulations.gov: Follow the on-line 
instructions for submitting comments.
     E-mail: [email protected]. Attention Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-
     Mail: Water Docket Environmental Protection Agency, 
Mailcode: 28221T, 1200 Pennsylvania Ave., NW., Washington, DC 20460, 
Attention Docket ID No. OW-2010-0828.
     Hand Delivery: Water Docket, EPA Docket Center, EPA West 
Building Room 3334, 1301 Constitution Ave., NW., Washington, DC 20460, 
ID No. EPA-HQ-OW-2010-0828. Such deliveries are only accepted during 
the Docket's normal hours of operation, and special arrangements should 
be made for deliveries of boxed information.
    Instructions: Direct your comments to Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OW-2010-
0828. EPA's policy is that all comments received will be included in 
the public docket without change and may be made available online at 
http://www.regulations.gov, including any personal information 
provided, unless the comment includes information claimed to be 
Confidential Business Information (CBI) or other information whose 
disclosure is restricted by statute. Do not submit information that you 
consider to be CBI or otherwise protected through http://www.regulations.gov or e-mail. The http://www.regulations.gov Web site 
is an ``anonymous access'' system, which means EPA will not know your 
identity or contact information unless you provide it in the body of 
your comment. If you send an e-mail comment directly to EPA without 
going through http://www.regulations.gov your e-mail address will be 
automatically captured and included as part of the comment that is 
placed in the public docket and made available on the Internet. If you 
submit an electronic comment, EPA recommends that you include your name 
and other contact information in the body of your comment and with any 
disk or CD-ROM you submit. If EPA cannot read your comment due to 
technical difficulties and cannot contact you for clarification, EPA 
may not be able to consider your comment. Electronic files should avoid 
the use of special characters, any form of encryption, and be free of 
any defects or viruses. For additional information about EPA's public 
docket visit the EPA Docket Center homepage at http://www.epa.gov/epahome/dockets.htm.
    Docket: All documents in the docket are listed in the http://www.regulations.gov index. Although listed in the index, some 
information is not publicly available, e.g., CBI or other information 
whose disclosure is restricted by statute. Certain other material, such 
as copyrighted material, will be publicly available only in hard copy. 
Publicly available docket materials are available either electronically 
in http://www.regulations.gov or in hard copy at the Water Docket, EPA/
DC, EPA West, Room 3334, 1301 Constitution Ave., NW., Washington, DC. 
The Public Reading Room is open from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday 
through Friday, excluding legal holidays. The telephone number for the 
Public Reading Room is (202) 566-1744, and the telephone number for the 
Water Docket is (202) 566-2426.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: For further information on the 
``listening session,'' contact Shirley Fan at tel. 202-564-2425 or e-
mail [email protected]. For further information on the 
VGP, please contact Robin Danesi at 202-564-1846, Ryan Albert at (202) 
564-0763 or e-mail [email protected].
    Public Listening Session: EPA will hold a public listening session 
to gather opinions from the public on changes or additions recommended 
for the next VGP. Written and oral statements will be accepted at the 
public listening session. Input generated from the public listening 
session will be compiled and archived in Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OW-2010-
0828 found at http://www.regulations.gov. The public listening session 
will begin with an EPA discussion of the background of the current VGP.
    The date and time of the listening session is December 15, 2010, 9 
a.m. to 5 p.m. The listening session will conclude early if all 
comments are heard. The listening session will be held at EPA HQ 
Office, EPA East Building, 1201 Constitution Ave., NW., Room 1153, 
Washington, DC 20004.


I. General Information

A. Does This Action Apply to Me?

    Today's notice does not contain or establish any regulatory 
requirements. Rather, it announces a public listening session and seeks 
recommendations to improve the next VGP.
    Today's notice will be of interest to the general public, State 
permitting agencies, other Federal agencies, technology vendors and 
owners or operators of non-recreational vessels that may have 
discharges incidental to their normal operation. These vessel types may 
include, but are not limited to, barges, tugs, cruise ships, commercial 
fishing vessels, tankers, and ferries.

B. What Should I Consider as I Prepare My Comments for EPA?

    1. Submitting CBI. Do not submit this information to EPA through 
http://www.regulations.gov or e-mail. Clearly mark the part or all of 
the information that you claim to be CBI. For CBI information on a disk 
or CD-ROM that you mail to EPA, mark the outside of the disk or CD-ROM 
as CBI and then identify electronically within the disk or CD-ROM the 
specific information that is claimed as CBI. In addition to one 
complete version of the comment that includes information claimed as 
CBI, a copy of the comment that does not

[[Page 66758]]

contain the information claimed as CBI must be submitted for inclusion 
in the public docket. Information so marked will not be disclosed 
except in accordance with procedures set forth in 40 CFR part 2.
    2. Tips for Preparing Your Comments. When submitting comments, 
remember to:
     Identify the notice by docket number and other identifying 
information (subject heading, Federal Register date, and page number).
     Follow directions--The agency may ask you to respond to 
specific questions or organize comments by referencing a specific 
section number in the VGP.
     Explain why you agree or disagree; suggest alternatives; 
and provide reasons for your suggested alternatives.
     Describe any assumptions and provide any technical 
information and/or data that you used.
     Provide specific examples to illustrate your concerns and 
suggest alternatives.
     Explain your views as clearly as possible.
    Make sure to submit your comments by the comment period deadline 
identified. You may submit your comments electronically, by mail, 
through hand delivery/courier, or in person by attending the public 
listening session being held on December 15, 2010.

II. Background

    In order to help the public prepare for the listening session, the 
following background information is provided. Please note that the 
information presented in this section is in summary form; for more 
detail, please consult the VGP and supporting documents [available at 

Summary of 2008 VGP Requirements

A. Who is Subject to the 2008 VGP?
    Vessels operating in a capacity as a means of transportation in the 
waters of the U.S., except recreational vessels as defined in CWA 
section 502(25) and vessels of the Armed Forces within the meaning of 
CWA [section] 312, that have discharges incidental to their normal 
operation are eligible for coverage under the VGP. With respect to (1) 
commercial fishing vessels of any size as defined in 46 U.S.C. 2101 and 
(2) those non-recreational vessels that are less than 79 feet in 
length, the coverage under the VGP is limited to ballast water 
discharges only and these vessels generally do not require permit 
coverage for other discharges. ``Waters of the U.S.'' is defined in EPA 
regulations to mean certain inland waters and the territorial sea, 
which extends three miles from the baseline. Note that the Clean Water 
Act (CWA) does not require NPDES permits for vessels or other floating 
craft operating as a means of transportation beyond the territorial 
seas, i.e., in the contiguous zone or ocean as defined by the CWA 
sections 502(9), (10). See CWA section 502(12) and 40 CFR 122.2 
(definition of ``discharge of a pollutant''). The VGP, therefore, does 
not apply in such waters.
B. What Does the 2008 VGP authorize?
    The 2008 VGP addresses 26 vessel discharge streams by establishing 
effluent limits, including Best Management Practices (BMPs), to control 
the discharge of the waste streams and constituents found in those 
waste streams. The discharge streams eligible for coverage under this 
final permit as specified in Part 1.2.2 of the VGP are: Deck washdown 
and runoff and above water line hull cleaning; bilge water; ballast 
water; anti-fouling leachate from anti-fouling hull coatings; aqueous 
film forming foam (AFFF); boiler/economizer blowdown; cathodic 
protection; chain locker effluent; controllable pitch propeller 
hydraulic fluid and thruster hydraulic fluid and other oil sea 
interfaces including lubrication discharges from paddle wheel 
propulsion, stern tubes, thruster bearings, stabilizers, rudder 
bearings, azimuth thrusters, and propulsion pod lubrication; 
distillation and reverse osmosis brine; elevator pit effluent; firemain 
systems; freshwater layup; gas turbine wash water; graywater; motor 
gasoline and compensating discharge; non-oily machinery wastewater; 
refrigeration and air condensate discharge; seawater cooling overboard 
discharge; seawater piping biofouling prevention; small boat engine wet 
exhaust; sonar dome discharge, underwater ship husbandry; welldeck 
discharges; graywater mixed with sewage from vessels; and exhaust gas 
scrubber wash water discharge.
    For each discharge type, among other things, the 2008 permit 
establishes effluent limits pertaining to the constituents found in the 
effluent, including BMPs designed to decrease the amount of 
constituents entering the waste stream. A vessel might not produce all 
of these discharges, but a vessel owner or operator is responsible for 
meeting the applicable effluent limits and complying with all the 
permit conditions for every listed discharge that the vessel produces.
C. Monitoring, Reporting, and Recordkeeping
    The 2008 VGP requires a routine visual inspection and monitoring of 
all accessible areas of the vessel that the permit addresses. The 
routine self-inspection must be documented in the ship's logbook or 
other recordkeeping documentation. Analytical monitoring is required 
for certain types of discharges. The VGP also requires comprehensive 
annual vessel inspections, to ensure even the hard-to-reach areas of 
the vessel are inspected for permit compliance. If the vessel is placed 
in dry dock while covered under this permit, a dry dock inspection and 
report must be completed. Additional monitoring requirements are 
imposed on certain classes of vessels.
    Vessel owner/operators are required to keep the following records 
on the vessel or accompanying tug as specified in Section 4.2 of the 
2008 VGP: Owner/vessel information, voyage log, violation of any 
effluent limit, log of deficiencies and problems found during routine 
inspections conducted under Part 4.1.1 of the VGP, analytical results 
for all monitoring conducted under 4.1.2, log of findings from annual 
inspections conducted under Part 4.1.3, training records, and other 
records required by the 2008 permit. Vessels with ballast tanks are 
required to keep the following written information onboard: Total 
ballast water information; ballast water management; information on 
ballast water tanks that are to be discharged in waters subject to the 
2008 permit or reception facility; and discharge of sediment.
    The 2008 VGP requires a one-time permit report between 30 and 36 
months after obtaining permit coverage. Vessel owner/operators must 
also report all instances of noncompliance with the VGP in an annual 
noncompliance report. If a noncompliance may endanger health or the 
environment, vessel owner/operators must report the noncompliance 
within 24 hours to the appropriate EPA Regional Office, and follow up 
with a written submission 5 days later.
D. Vessel Class-Specific Requirements
    The 2008 VGP imposes additional requirements for 8 specific classes 
of vessels. These vessel types are medium cruise ships, large cruise 
ships, large ferries, barges, oil or petroleum tankers, research 
vessels, rescue boats, and vessels employing experimental ballast water 
treatment systems. The permit requirements are designed to address the 
discharges from features unique to those vessels, such as parking decks 

[[Page 66759]]

ferries and overnight accommodations for passengers on cruise ships.

III. Request for Public Input and Comment

    Today's notice is being issued to inform the public that EPA is 
beginning the process of developing the next VGP and to solicit comment 
on recommended improvements. EPA is accepting information during the 
listening session scheduled for December 15, 2010 and/or by submission 
of written comments or relevant information in order to gain early 
public input on improvements recommended for the next VGP.
    In addition to generally requesting recommended changes for any 
aspect of the next VGP, in order to maximize the quality of the next 
permit, EPA is specifically requesting comment on the following:
    (1) Were parts of the 2008 VGP confusing? Do certain sections need 
to provide additional guidance?
    (2) Are there any guidances, supporting documentation, or other 
communication strategies that you would recommend EPA develop to help 
vessel owner/operators better understand and comply with the next VGP? 
If so, please suggest your approaches.
    (3) Did the 2008 VGP accurately identify and capture all the 
categories of discharges incidental to the normal operation of a vessel 
in the vessel universe? Are there additional discharge categories EPA 
should explore for the next VGP?
    (4) Are there effluent limitations or best management practices in 
the 2008 VGP you would recommend revising and if so, what are your 
suggestions and why do you suggest making those revisions?
    (5) Are there reporting, monitoring, and inspection requirements 
you would recommend revising, and if so, what are your suggestions? Are 
there additional forms or guidances EPA should consider in assisting 
permittees in meeting their reporting, monitoring, and inspections 
    (6) Did EPA accurately identify and capture additional requirements 
needed for specific vessel classes and if not, what are your 
suggestions? Are there additional specific vessel classes EPA should 
explore for the next VGP and why?
    (7) Are there additional Federal, State, or international permits, 
rules, or guidances EPA should consider using to inform decisions for 
the next VGP and why?

    Dated: October 21, 2010.
James A. Hanlon,
Director, Office of Wastewater Management.
[FR Doc. 2010-27452 Filed 10-28-10; 8:45 am]