National Academies Press: OpenBook

Clean Ships, Clean Ports, Clean Oceans: Controlling Garbage and Plastic Wastes at Sea (1995)

Chapter: Offshore Industry Rigs, Platforms, and Supply Vessels

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Suggested Citation:"Offshore Industry Rigs, Platforms, and Supply Vessels." National Research Council. 1995. Clean Ships, Clean Ports, Clean Oceans: Controlling Garbage and Plastic Wastes at Sea. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/4769.
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Page 45

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SOURCES, FATES, AND EFFECTS OF SHIPBORNE GARBAGE 45 managing it, due to the severe shortage of on-board space and the vessels' varied missions and operating profiles. The Coast Guard fleet includes large and small cutters, several ice breakers, and numerous patrol boats and other small craft. Crew size and voyage length vary, but garbage handling problems can become severe; a cutter may have as many as 140 officers and crew on board, and a voyage often lasts more than 10 days. Domestic and operational wastes are generated on board, but most maintenance is performed while vessels are in port, so repair wastes are a lesser concern. Each naval auxiliary vessel is designed and constructed uniquely to accomplish some special task, whether it is to support larger Navy vessels, move troops and materiel, maintain station off the coast, or some other specialized duty. Because auxiliary vessels often must carry large amounts of heavy equipment, meet very high survivability standards, and pursue missions that are incompatible with certain garbage treatment options (e.g., compactors pose a magnetic problem on minesweepers), Annex V compliance is a unique challenge for this fleet. Offshore Industry Rigs, Platforms, and Supply Vessels Nearly all offshore oil and gas exploration occurs in the Gulf of Mexico.8 Some 10,000 persons work offshore every day. An offshore rig or platform typically is operated through a contractual arrangement involving the leaseholder, who owns the platform and shoreside base terminal that serves as a ''port''; the drilling contractor; and the offshore vessel operator, who transports personnel, supplies, and garbage between the platform and the shore. This sector is subject to assorted domestic laws and regulations that impose discharge restrictions independent of but consistent with Annex V, which prohibits the disposal of any garbage except comminuted food waste from fixed or floating platforms (and from all vessels within 500 meters [547 yards] of such platforms). This sector encompasses 1,125 manned platforms and 1,500 supply boats.9 Hazardous wastes hauled from platforms are documented, but few data are available on operational and domestic wastes. Mineral Management Service regulations require platform operators to record and report accidental overboard losses of materials, but these data are not collected centrally. The EPA is gathering information on operational wastes to support development of regulations. The industry has made an effort to comply with the various discharge restrictions, but overboard loss of equipment and materials due to less-than- exemplary 8 Because of this concentration of activity and the designation of the Gulf of Mexico as part of an Annex V special area, the committee treated offshore oil and gas platforms and vessels as a regional fleet. 9 These figures reflect the size of the offshore sector in 1994.

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Marine debris is a serious environmental problem. To do its part, the United States has agreed to abide by the international treaty for garbage control at sea, known as MARPOL 73/78 Annex V.

Clean Ships, Clean Ports, Clean Oceans explores the challenge of translating Annex V into workable laws and regulations for all kinds of ships and boats, from cruise ships to fishing crafts and recreational boats. The volume examines how existing resources can be leveraged into a comprehensive strategy for compliance, including integrated waste management systems and effective enforcement.

Clean Ships, Clean Ports, Clean Oceans describes both progress toward and obstacles to Annex V compliance. The book covers:

  • How shipborne garbage orignates and what happens to garbage discharged into the seas.
  • Effects of discharge on human health, wildlife safety, and aesthetics.
  • Differences in perspective among military, industrial, and recreational seafarers and shoreside facilities.

Clean Ships, Clean Ports, Clean Oceans will be important to marine policymakers, port administrators, ship operations officers, maritime engineers, and marine ecologists.

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