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Suggested Citation:"Port Accountability." 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 163
Suggested Citation:"Port Accountability." 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 164

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INTEGRATING VESSEL AND SHORESIDE GARBAGE MANAGEMENT 163 APHIS regime. One, high disposal costs, is outside the committee's scope. The second problem, the confusion over what types of garbage are subject to quarantine, is relevant to the committee's task, in that Annex V compliance depends in part on widespread understanding of proper garbage handling practices. The third problem, the lack of full integration of the APHIS and Annex V regimes, is directly relevant to the present study because it is further evidence of the need for a systems approach to vessel garbage management. The overlay of Annex V on APHIS regulations may compound confusion and compliance problems among vessel operators. The fourth problem, the lack of a requirement for off-loading of APHIS waste at U.S. port calls, is related to the need for integration of the APHIS and Annex V regimes. As noted earlier, vessels are not required to off-load Annex V garbage either, although other nations have adopted such mandates and there may be good arguments for doing so. If vessel operators were required to off- load Annex V garbage, then the adoption of parallel requirements for APHIS waste would have the multiple benefits of fostering integration of the two regimes, freeing up much-needed space on board, and bringing the seaport side of the quarantine program into line with the airport side. This concept is applicable primarily to cargo and passenger cruise ships, which may generate large amounts of garbage, including APHIS waste, and routinely call at commercial ports. Port Accountability Also of concern are the significant gaps in port controls. The COA program and the related requirements covering smaller terminals are meant to assure the existence of a complete garbage management plan that covers, among other things, the handling of APHIS waste. But the certification process only shows that the structure for compliance exists within a port serving large tankers or fishing vessels16; there is little verification that the structure actually functions as described. Similarly, while reception facilities also are required at small fishing piers, recreational marinas serving 10 or more boats, and terminals serving offshore oil and gas operations, the Coast Guard neither inspects the facilities nor requires that COAs be obtained. Still another problem is that regulations do not identify clearly the parties responsible for implementing APHIS requirements in a terminal or port. Because the current regulations are not comprehensive (the many small, unattended piers and launch ramps are not covered), do not assign responsibility for port improvements, and do not require record keeping or inspections, the system of controls is primarily an exercise in paperwork. 16 As noted in Chapter 1, the COA program applies to ports and terminals serving vessels of 400 gross tons or more carrying oil or noxious liquid substances, or those that serve fishing vessels that cumulatively off-load more than 500,000 pounds of commercial fishery products during a calendar year.

INTEGRATING VESSEL AND SHORESIDE GARBAGE MANAGEMENT 164 Nonetheless, if the overall garbage management system is to be strengthened, then the COA program is a logical starting point. Several MPPRCA amendments have been proposed that would require inspections of COA facilities when the owner or operator changes, make COAs valid for a five-year time period, require inspections before issuance of new certificates, and mandate examinations of all non-COA holding facilities. If adopted, these provisions may be helpful. Even so, designing and administering the COA program is a heavy burden on the Coast Guard, which has no expertise in waste management and might be overwhelmed by the attempt to ensure that the more than 10,000 U.S. ports provide garbage reception facilities that are truly adequate. The more logical authorities for overseeing the landside of the vessel garbage management system are the EPA, which has extensive expertise in handling waste of all types, and the states, which develop solid waste management plans authorized by the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) (P.L. 94-580), as amended. 17 (States must submit these plans, which detail regulations and strategies, in order to avoid having EPA take over their programs.) Unlike the Coast Guard, the EPA and the states employ waste professionals who are engaged full-time in managing regimes for solid and industrial waste. At present, the Coast Guard is the primary government authority with official responsibility for overseeing port reception facilities. But the committee has obtained a legal opinion stating that RCRA and the regulations are sufficiently broad that they arguably could allow a state's solid waste management plan to cover a vessel docked at a port in the state (Dana J. Schaefer, Parkowski, Noble and Guerke [Dover, Delaware], personal communication to a member of the Committee on Shipborne Wastes, March 23, 1994). The EPA could establish technical standards for determining whether port reception facilities are ''adequate,'' and states could assure that the standards were met as part of their waste management planning process. The EPA has supported similar technical assistance when other waste streams have been brought under federal control (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 1990a and 1990b; Council of State Governments, 1992). Certainly in Texas and New Jersey, where reducing waterborne and beach debris is a top public priority, full integration of port reception facilities into the state ISWMS would be a logical approach. Either legislation or a regulatory directive might be required to bring the EPA into this process.18 To supplement the COA program, other government agencies that regulate ports could help assure the adequacy of port reception facilities. State govern- 17 These provisions are codified at United States Code, Title 42, Sections 6941-6949. 18 The EPA interprets current requirements as addressing permanent disposal structures (40 C.F.R. §258 establishes minimum criteria for landfills, which are considered permanent structures with lasting impact on the environment). Dumpsters and other temporary facilities are considered disposal practices, which the EPA has chosen not to regulate.

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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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