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US Coast Guard (USCG) calls that vessels sailing to the United States must have the Vessel General Permit (VGP) Compliance Sampling performed to validate that their Ballast Water Treatment System (BWTS) complies with the imposed standards. During the first year, it is required to test the water between 2 to 4 times. Once samples meet the discharge requirements in two consecutive tests, sampling can revert to annual VGP sampling and therefore annual reports.
In case of subsequent failure, vessels are required to revert to biannual testing until two consecutive tests have been achieved. Analyses should be conducted on Total heterotrophic bacteria, E. Coli and Enterococci. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) administers compliance with these VGP discharge standards and sets testing guidelines and chain of custody reporting. Such annual compliance testing is currently not mandatory for IMO, however, Port State inspectors are responsible for the enforcement of IMO regulations.
The VGP, which was issued in 2008 and then updated to a stricter version in 2013, provides nationwide National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit coverage for incidental discharges from commercial vessels over 79 feet in length.
Mr. Marine is your reliable partner for professional compliance testing, calibration and servicing in more than 375 ports worldwide. Contact our team for a quote today!
Failing VGP ballast compliance sampling requirements could see your ships denied entry to US ports. This would inevitably cost you many thousands in fines and lost cargoes. More serious violations can result in fines ranging from around $20,000 to $40,000.
Companies should review their compliance programs and ensure they comply with VGP requirements. The compliance programs should be practical and straightforward for crewmembers to follow and include procedures for reporting non-compliance. Companies must act immediately if they discover a violation and report it accordingly. Note that although self-sampling is permitted, strict procedures are required to ensure correct handling and timely transportation of samples. All of which must be correctly logged within specified timeframes.
The EPA has recently increased its scrutiny of vessels and their compliance with the current VGP rules. This includes reviewing vessel records, conducting inspections and using its authority to issue information requests under the Clean Water Act to investigate potential violations. The EPA is focusing on failures to comply with annual inspection requirements, failure to file Notices of Intent and non-compliance with BWMS. The EPA has indicated that this is just the beginning and that companies need to comply with Vessel General Permit discharge requirements to avoid significant penalties.
For US waters, USCG/EPA requirements for VGP compliance are:
In December 2018, the Vessel Incidental Discharge Act (VIDA) was signed to establish uniformity, consistency, and certainty in the regulation of incidental discharges from U.S. and foreign-flag vessels.
The VIDA applies to:
Even if the initial timeline to ratify the uniform performance standard was two years, the standards have not been developed until now. The EPA mentioned that the new enforcement for the federal discharge limits will be communicated in the autumn of 2024.
We perform VGP compliance testing and maintenance on all BWTS and ensure your BWTS is compliant with the current regulations. Mr. Marine Ballast provides a fully project-managed service, whereby samples are taken by trained specialists and tested in certified laboratories. Entrusting your VGP sampling to Mr. Marine Ballast ensures that your BWTS samples are taken from optimum locations and transported according to EPA guidelines. By following these procedures, Mr. Marine Ballast contains the risk of contamination or multiplying of bacteria which minimises the risk of a negative test. The final report will also include a Chain of Custody (COC) which is a specific EPA requirement.
VGP compliance ensures the protection of the global waters and the reduction of invasive species. This measure contributes to environmental protection and the health of the maritime ecosystem.
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For additional information about VGP compliance sampling, please visit the following pages:
VGP Compliance Testing
Your 2023 Guide for VGP
You can also view all our BWTS services here.
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Mr. Marine trades under Mr. Marine Elevator, Mr. Marine Ballast and Mr. Marine Instruments & Controls. Our dynamic company aims at keeping vessels safe and compliant, anywhere in the world. With technical know-how, unparalleled spare part sourcing and 24/7 responsiveness, we are your global beacon.
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