News Archives from 1-5-2011 to 4-12-2011

NOAA Designates Critical Habitat for Cook Inledt Beluga Whales . . . 4-12-2011

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration issued a final rule designating critical habitat areas in Cook Inlet for Beluga whales. The Port of Anchorage was not included in the critical habitat designations, however, many other areas in Cook Inlet are affected. This could have implications for proposed drilling activity in Cook Inlet in the coming year. Complete details on the designation and a map of the affected areas are included in the federal register notice linked below.

Federal Register Notice

USCG Guidance for EPA VGP Enforcement . . . 3-10-2011

On February 11, 2011, the Coast Guard announced that it had signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency wherein the Coast Guard had agreed that its inspection personnel would be evaluating compliance with the provisions of the of the EPA’s Vessel General Permit (VGP) for U.S. and foreign flagged vessels subject to the VGP and operating on the waters of the United States.
The EPA issued the VGP on December 18, 2008, to regulate discharges incidental to the normal operation of a vessel under the Clean Water Act (CWA), which prohibits the discharge of any pollutant to the waters of the United States from any point source without a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit.  Previously the EPA had excluded discharges incidental to the normal operation of a vessel from the need to obtain a NPDES permit, but this policy was challenged in a court case and the previous policy was deemed improper by the court.
The VGP requires vessel owners/operators to perform training, inspections, monitoring and reporting and take assessments and corrective actions as necessary. It also requires vessel owners or operators to submit a notice of intent (NOI) to receive permit coverage and to submit a one-time permit report between 30 and 36 months after obtaining permit coverage.
Complete details of the Vessel General Permit (VGP) program, copies of the permit, facts sheets and other information on the details of what the general permit requires are posted on the EPA’s web site at:    http://www.epa.gov/npdes/vessels
A copy of the guidelines that the Coast Guard is going to use to evaluate compliance with the VGP on behalf of the EPA are attached below.  The job aid attached to the guidance shows specifically what the inspectors will be checking and what type of compliance will satisfy their scrutiny.  Owner operators of vessels subject to the Vessel General Permit (VGP) would do well to review this information carefully to ensure that they are in compliance with the EPA VGP when the Coast Guard comes to evaluate their activities under the permit.

USCG Guidance for EPA VGP Enforcement

Coast Guard cutter ACUSHNET to be Decommissioned . . . 3-10-2011

The Coast Guard has announced that the cutter ACUSHNET will be decommissioned in Ketchikan on March 11, concluding 67 years of service.  She had been built between 1942 and 1944 by the Basalt Rock Company of Napa, California, and had first been placed in commission in the Navy as the USS SHACKLE, a salvage tug. She was 213 feet long and powered by four Cooper Bessemer GSB-8 diesel engines utilizing diesel electric propulsion. The SHACKLE served as a Navy salvage ship in the Pacific earning a battle star for her actions during the assault on Okinawa in April 1945. After the war the ship was turned over to the Coast Guard. She was first homeported in Portland, Maine, where she performed search and rescue duties. In 1968, she was transferred to San Diego, California, to assist the Scripps Institute of Oceanography. Three years later she was transferred to Gulfport, Mississippi, where she assisted the National Data Buoy Center as an oceanographic research ship.  In 1979 the ship was reclassified as a medium endurance cutter and was used in law enforcement, environmental protection and search and rescue. In 1990 the ship was relocated to Eureka, California, where she served until 1998. At the turn of the millennium she was still serving the Coast Guard and U.S. tax payers home ported out of Ketchikan, Alaska, a ship much older than all who sailed in her at more than 55 years of age at that time. Now, after 67 years of service the ship will be decommissioned and sold. ACUSHNET has been known as the Queen of the Fleet since becoming the oldest commissioned cutter in the Coast Guard after the previous Queen, the Kodiak-based cutter STORIS, was taken out of service in 2007. ACUSHNET had survived earlier efforts to have it decommissioned, but the Department of Homeland Security budget for fiscal years 2011 specifically called for the medium-endurance ship and four of the Coast Guard's high-endurance cutters to be taken out of service. The federal government already has put the ship up for sale on the GSA Auctions website, where prospective buyers have until 2 p.m. March 16 to place their bids. Whoever wins the auction can take possession of ACUSHNET on April 10 in Ketchikan, or April 17 in Seattle, according to GSA Auctions. Home-ported in Ketchikan since 1998, the ACUSHNET’s primary roles in Alaska have included fisheries law enforcement, search and rescue, environmental protection and homeland security in the Bering Sea and Gulf of Alaska.

See more ACUSHNET Here . . .

Alaska Chadux Honored for Environmental Excellence . . . 2-3-2011

On December 6, 2010, the U.S. Coast Guard awarded the Alaska Chadux Corporation its most prestigious environmental honor, the 2010 Rear Admiral William M. Benkert “OSPREY” award for marine environmental protection. The Coast Guard’s Pacific Area Commander, Vice Admiral Manson Brown, presented the award to Chadux General Manager Bob Heavilin, Operations Manager John LeClair, Business/Finance Manager Jerry Allen, and Jim Butler, Chadux General Counsel, at the American Petroleum Institute Tanker Conference in San Diego, California. Alaska Chadux received a similar honor in 2008. See MXAK news article linked here.

Alaska Chadux Press Release on Osprey Award

Color Coded Terror Alerts Discontinued . . . 1-31-2011

Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano announced in late January 2011 that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will discontinue the color-coded alerts of the Homeland Security Advisory System (HSAS) in favor of a new system, the National Terrorism Advisory System (NTAS), that will more effectively communicate information about terrorist threats by providing timely, detailed information to the public, government agencies, first responders, airports and other transportation hubs, and the private sector. Complete details are in the Homeland Security Press Release linked below.

Press Release

USCG Issues Heavy Weather Procedures for Bering Sea Ports . . . 1-5-2011

On November 3, 2010, the Coast Guard Captain of the Port for Western Alaska issued his 2010-2011 Operating Procedures for Severe Weather in the Aleutian Islands and Pribilof Islands. These guidelines have been issued for several years and deal with common sense precautions to be taken when anchoring when severe weather is forecasted for these areas. See details in the COTP advisory letter below.

Operating Procedures for Severe Weather

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