Stepped Up Enforcement in the North American ECA: August 2014 Update

August 18, 2014
Legal Briefing

Types : Bylined Articles

In a new enforcement initiative, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”), in cooperation with the United States Coast Guard (“USCG”), has boarded vessels to collect bunker samples to determine whether the vessels’ fuel sources meet the 1.0% fuel oil sulphur limit applicable within the North American Emissions Control Area (“ECA”).The EPA also disclosed that it has been “experimenting” with vessel flyovers to assess vessel smokestack plumes for the same purpose.The EPA’s unprecedented action, coming on the heels of its issuance of administrative subpoenas to several large companies operating ships within the North American ECA, announced stepped up efforts to enforce low sulphur fuel requirements within the North American ECA. Until this recent initiative, EPA and USCG officials seemed content to simply monitor compliance efforts by reviewing ECA-related records and documents such as Bunker Delivery Receipts during Port State Control inspections. These joint EPA/USCG initiatives to enforce fuel standards should serve as a warning to Club’s Members operating within the North American ECA. The commercial and legal consequences of a failure to comply with the ECA’s fuel oil sulphur limits – or the commercial and legal consequences, even if the United States government has only “reasonable cause” to believe that vessels failed to comply with the ECA’s fuel oil sulphur limits – are potentially severe.

Read the full article in the July 2014 issue of the UK P&I Club’s Legal Briefing newsletter.


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