National Academies Press: OpenBook
Suggested Citation:"Quarantine Requirements." 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.
Page 160
Suggested Citation:"Quarantine Requirements." 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.
Page 161
Suggested Citation:"Quarantine Requirements." 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.
Page 162

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INTEGRATING VESSEL AND SHORESIDE GARBAGE MANAGEMENT 160 This situation reflects a larger issue related to Annex V implementation. The U.S. port system is decentralized at both the local and federal level, and there is great diversity among ports. Even in a single port, all facilities are not managed centrally; terminals in Boston harbor, for example, are run by the Massachusetts Port Authority and myriad other public and commercial groups. The lack of a national port governance system—which most countries have— impedes U.S. implementation of Annex V, because MARPOL assumes a direct link between "the government of each Party to the Convention" and the local port reception facility. No such link exists in the United States; the federal government has indicated repeatedly that it will rely on the free market to provide port reception facilities. Control is limited further by the lack of any requirement that ships off-load garbage upon either arrival at or departure from U.S. ports.9 Such a requirement, potentially a straightforward way for the government to exert additional control, would be particularly useful in the case of large commercial vessels, such as cargo and cruise ships, that generate sizable amounts of garbage. Apart from requiring off-loading of garbage by commercial ships, the federal government could take additional steps to improve vessel garbage management. There are four primary barriers to the internal integration of the system. These barriers need to be overcome if the system is to function effectively. The four salient issues are quarantine requirements for vessels arriving from foreign waters; implementation of the Coast Guard COA program for ports; port operators' liability for handling vessel garbage; and financing— both who should pay for garbage services and how they should pay. Quarantine Requirements The Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, a unit of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), prohibits the off-loading of any garbage that has come in contact with either animal or plant products originating in or transported through a foreign country, unless the garbage is handled under strict procedures to ensure quarantine (9 C.F.R. §94.5; 7 C.F.R. §330.400). The objective of these controls is to prevent contaminated animal or plant material from bringing new diseases into the country. A vessel operator may comply by retaining suspect materials on board, in tight waste containers "inside the rail" of the weather deck, so nothing can be dropped accidentally on the pier. The regulated garbage may be off-loaded only in tight receptacles and must be incinerated or sterilized prior to disposal in an approved landfill. In addition, the process must take place under the supervision of either a USDA inspector or a contractor who has signed a compliance agreement (in the latter case, APHIS monitors the process occasion- 9 An informal Coast Guard survey of port reception facilities on the East and Gulf coasts indicated that fewer than 20 percent of vessels off-load garbage (59 Fed. Reg. 18,700 [1994]).

INTEGRATING VESSEL AND SHORESIDE GARBAGE MANAGEMENT 161 ally). Before Annex V came into force, mariners complied with APHIS rules by discharging garbage overboard before entering U.S. waters; obviously, for many, this is no longer a legal option. Therefore, the quantity of foreign garbage to be held has increased. Garbage subject to APHIS inspection is generated mostly in the galley area10; the vessel must maintain an additional and separate sorting, packaging, storage, and disposal system for this material. Under Annex V, plastic food- packaging materials may be disposed of only on shore, a requirement that effectively adds to the amount of APHIS waste that either must be retained on board or must be discharged to a certified port reception facility. Due to its specialized nature, APHIS waste handling is much more expensive and difficult to obtain than is ordinary garbage disposal. Cargo vessel operators often strive to avoid use of U.S. ports for APHIS waste disposal, due in part to the high cost, which may range from $250 to more than $1,000 per pickup.11 There is also considerable confusion among vessel operators concerning what types of waste must be quarantined and the basis for the disposal charges.12 An additional concern with respect to Annex V implementation is the need to make separate arrangements for shoreside disposal of APHIS waste and Annex V garbage; the lack of full integration of the two garbage management regimes adds to the burden on vessel operators and may be a deterrent to compliance. Yet, at the same time, APHIS has contributed to implementation of Annex V. There is a standing agreement for APHIS boarding officers to assist the Coast Guard in monitoring arriving vessels for compliance with Annex V. Inspectors ask four questions related to Annex V, and this assistance has resulted in numerous Annex V violation reports (U.S. Coast Guard, 1993). The APHIS regulations, which specify methods for packaging, transporting, and disposing of the waste, were developed separately from the national ISWMS. But APHIS has modernized and partially integrated its program with other garbage management systems. Since the advent of Annex V, for example, APHIS handling and transportation requirements have been altered to comply with procedures for handling hospital waste.13 10 The other main source is spoiled cargoes of animal products. 11 The cost is high for two reasons: The APHIS waste stream is small in comparison to amounts of Annex V garbage, and the required handling techniques are relatively expensive. 12 This confusion can increase both actual and perceived disposal costs for Annex V garbage. Many vessels operators do not realize that they must separate Annex V garbage from APHIS waste and as a result must pay the higher APHIS disposal fees for mixed waste (U.S. Coast Guard, 1993). In addition, some shipping company operators have misinterpreted an APHIS inspection fee (instituted in 1991) as related to Annex V (Coe, 1992). 13 The medical waste management system, created since the late 1980s (partly in response to syringes and other medical waste washing up on beaches), requires strict chain of custody and controlled destruction of materials capable of transmitting pathogens dangerous to humans.

INTEGRATING VESSEL AND SHORESIDE GARBAGE MANAGEMENT 162 Managers of APHIS programs also have attempted to respond to the sudden increase in the need for their services resulting from Annex V and the COA program. Before Annex V, APHIS waste haulers typically were not allowed to transport quarantined wastes through rural areas. This policy was changed in 1988 to allow certified waste haulers to transport containers of garbage through rural areas and for long distances. Also in 1988, following passage of the MPPRCA, the Coast Guard was directed by law to require ports to prove they could provide reception facilities for quarantined garbage; without such a capability, a port was unlikely to receive a COA verifying its compliance with Annex V. In 1987, only 32 ports had facilities that were approved to handle garbage under USDA regulation; by 1992, most U.S. ports had USDA- approved garbage handling procedures and appropriate equipment (Caffey, 1993).14 Access to proper equipment may be limited in certain cases, however. Some hospitals and international airports have the technology, for example, but their operators, fearing damage to the equipment, generally decline to make it regularly available for vessel garbage (Carangelo and Buch, 1993). The same compliance agreements and supervision provisions are used to handle both vessels and passenger aircraft, and the airport side of the quarantine program seems to function well.15 However, there is at least one major difference between APHIS operations at airports and those at seaports: Quarantined garbage is removed from aircraft at the end of each flight due to the lack of on-board storage space, while ships do not necessarily off-load any waste in port. Furthermore, compliance agreements at airports are with caterers, who personally board aircraft and remove regulated garbage, whereas compliance agreements at seaports are with waste haulers, who do not board vessels and therefore have no control over what is off-loaded. All of this means that waste haulers at ports, because their APHIS services are in less demand than are those of airline caterers, have less market incentive to comply with regulations and thereby maintain and attract business. The airport practices may have the effect of increasing control over garbage management, in addition to freeing up on-board space for storage of additional garbage. Both of these effects are desirable. In summary, the committee identified four basic problems related to the 14 Because APHIS allows waste haulers to transport waste for long distances, numerous ports deemed capable of providing APHIS waste reception facilities actually have no such facilities. Instead, the garbage is transported to facilities elsewhere. That extra shipment certainly increases the disposal cost to ship operators using those ports. 15 Airports enter into agreements that make compliance easy and routine. The quarantine practices do not cause delays in flight operations. The garbage removal is performed largely by airline caterers in well-monitored kitchens on the airport premises (Carol Hearer, Ogden Aviation Services, personal communication to Marine Board staff, October 17, 1991). In addition, APHIS prepares training materials in multiple languages for new catering employees, to reinforce the need to adhere to quarantine practices (Caffey, 1991).

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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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