August 18, 2014
In an effort to step up enforcement of the North American Emissions Control Area (ECA) rules, US authorities have boarded vessels to collect bunker samples and is experimenting with vessel flyovers to test smokestack plumes, the UK P&I Club says.
Previously, the US Coast Guard (USCG) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) had used only records and documents such as bunker delivery receipts during their port state control inspections.
In another sign of more rigorous enforcement, the authorities have also issued administrative subpoenas to several large ship operators.
“These joint EPA/USCG initiatives to enforce fuel standards should serve as a warning to Club’s Members operating within the North American ECA,” the club said.
“The commercial and legal consequences of a failure to comply with the ECA’s fuel oil sulphur limits – or the commercial and legal consequences, even if the United States government has only ‘reasonable cause’ to believe that vessels failed to comply with the ECA’s fuel oil sulphur limits – are potentially severe.”
As the start of stricter rules for sulfur emissions within ECAs approaches, the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) has called for a uniform approach to enforcement and suggested bunker delivery notes be used as the main method of confirming compliance.