Coast Guard proposal: Give ships 22 years to meet toughest ballast discharge standard

Here’s a trivia question that is sure to stump some of your wonky friends: How long will it take the U.S. Coast Guard to force freighters plying the Great Lakes to install the most effective ballast water treatment systems?

A. 6 years; B. 11 years; C. 22 years; D. 30 years.

The correct answer is C: 22 years.

“The final standards are very good, but the schedule is much too long, excusing some ships from meeting the final standards until 2031,” said Andy Buchsbaum, co-chair of the Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition.

“That’s decades too late for the Great Lakes,” Buchsbaum said. “It’s like giving a patient powerful medicine, but only after he’s dead.”

On the surface, it appears that the Coast Guard rule would require all ships operating in U.S. waters to meet final ballast water discharge standards by 2021.

But there’s a catch: Based on when ships go into dry-dock for repairs, shipping companies could be given up to 10 additional years (until 2031) to meet the final ballast water discharge standards.

To put things in perspective, consider this: It took the United States just 11 years to put a man on the moon in the 1960s — from the inception of research to completion of the mission.

If you think the Coast Guard’s timeline for requiring ships to disinfect their filthy ballast tanks is too protracted, it’s time to speak out. Tell the Coast Guard the Great Lakes can’t afford to wait 22 years for freighters to provide the highest level of protection against invasive species lurking in ballast water tanks.

Here’s how to be heard:

E-mail comments by Dec. 4 to the Coast Guard’s online docket. Click here.

Comments also may be mailed to:

Coast Guard docket number USCG-2001-10486

Docket Management Facility (M-30)

U.S. Department of Transportation

West Building Ground Floor, Room W12-140

1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE.

Washington, DC 20590-0001.

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4 Responses to Coast Guard proposal: Give ships 22 years to meet toughest ballast discharge standard

  1. Don mitchel says:

    Dear Sirs, It is important to remember that when addressing the Coast Guard about ballast dumping, that although sadly the military has found it necessary to intervene to protect America’s water from invasive species, human bacterial pathogens, and virus, being dumped in our water ( by domestic and international private enterprise), our country is a democracy. The largest,elected legislative voice of the people has already spoken with overwhelming resolve. It was because Senator Boxer believes that control of pathogens in water distributed by ballast dumping (that can be spread to all Americans) is a states rights issue. She claimed she did not want Federal policy to override her states rights. To understand her position one has to look at the time line for new standards that were purposed in H.R.2830 vs. her states laws. As no action was taken by the Senate in the previous session and time has marched on, her objection should be of less relevance. Now to believe that because the Coast Guard is asking for public opinions through their forum, that the will of the American people will be addressed is to not understand what our democracy is or should be.
    Don Mitchel

  2. Don mitchel says:

    Dear Sirs, Yesterday October 23 2009,the house passed h.r.3619 and seems to show that once again that previous legislation on ballast water passed by the house may have been just as Rep Oberstar has reportedly expressed “bullshit”. The following is from the House of Representatives discussion about again addressing ballast water with the latest Coast Guard Authorization Act.H.R.3619 on oct22. it is sad they still do not mention the human pathogens associated with ballast dumping.“Lastly, I am concerned with our inability to include language that would establish uniform national standards for vessel discharges, including ballast water. ”

    “I would like to talk briefly about a provision that was not included in this year’s bill, ballast water management”
    “Although I would have liked this bill to once again include a provision on ballast water management, I am cognizant that this provision may be one of the reasons this bill has been held up in the Senate.” It is sad they still do not mention the human pathogens associated with ballast dumping. Perhaps this is why the Senate can still consider this a states rights issue. As politicians wish to be treated with respect and decorum, history has proven that Senators can be for sale, and it only takes one Senator from a state that oil transportation and shipping of foreign goods plays an important part of their economy to hold ballast water regulations up on a states right issue.
    Sincerely, Don Mitchel