Thursday, January 17, 2008

EPA Posts Comments & Transcript On U.S. Steel Gary Works

Jan 17: U.S. EPA Region 5 has announced that comments it has received on its objections to a draft wastewater treatment permit for U.S. Steel Gary Works, in addition to a transcript of a December 11 public hearing on the issue [See WIMS 11/24/07], are available on its website. Copies will also be available at EPA's regional office in Chicago and the Gary Public Library, 220 W. 5th Street. EPA said it received more than 300 comments by the close of the comment period December 28, 2007. The Agency is currently evaluating the comments, will prepare responses to them and make sure that the Indiana Department of Environmental Management is informed of any significant issues raised.

Access an EPA announcement (click here). Access the comments and related information on the draft permit (click here). Access extensive information from IDEM on the permit (click here).

U.S. & Canada Harmonize Ballast Water Regs

Jan 16: The St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation (SLSMC) announced a further strengthening of ballast water management practices for the 2008 season. The regulatory initiative regarding ballast water management rules by its U.S. partner, the Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation (SLSDC), will result in all ocean vessels being subjected to a consistent and rigorous inspection process in Montreal, before they enter the Seaway / Great Lakes. Since 2006, all ocean vessels bound for a Canadian port have been subjected to ballast water inspections, to ensure that water within the ballast tanks adheres to a minimum level of salinity of 30 parts per thousand. With the harmonization of U.S. and Canadian standards, all vessels entering the Seaway, irrespective of their destination, will be subjected to the same inspection process.

Beginning with the 2008 navigation season, all ocean vessels, including those with "no ballast on board", will be subjected to an inspection, covering 100% of ballast water tanks. The inspection process will ensure that the vessel -- while still a minimum of 200 km offshore -- flushed all of its tanks with salt water. On subsequent transits during the year, the vessel will again be subjected to a series of inspections, with the objective of ensuring that the vessel’s crew is strictly adhering to the salt water flushing practice.

Salt water acts as a natural biocide against fresh water organisms found in ballast water. A recent study led by the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the University of Michigan found this practice to be a highly effective means to eradicate organisms suspended in ballast water (including zebra mussels). The new harmonized regulations will ensure that all ocean vessels flush their ballast tanks with salt water, well before they enter U.S. or Canadian waters.

Richard Corfe, President and CEO of the SLSMC, stated that “this agreement demonstrates the resolve of the Seaway corporations, the Canadian and U.S. governments, and that of the marine industry to effectively manage ballast water, and apply industry leading best practices to each and every ocean vessel entering our system.

The Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes (HOW) Coalition issued a statement saying, "The proposed rule is a helpful interim measure, but is no substitute for what’s most needed now: a comprehensive solution to aquatic invasive species transported in ballast water. Until Congress addresses the issue head-on, the problem will continue to get worse and cost more money. Salt-water flushing will reduce, but not completely eliminate, the problem of aquatic invasive species because of the wide range of salinity tolerances in living organisms. In addition, unless conducted properly, saltwater flushing will not be effective against organisms found in the sediment and sludge of ocean-going vessels. Among other things, ballast tanks must be regularly and thoroughly cleaned to remove all sediment, and sufficient quantities of ocean water must be used when flushing.”

Access a release from SLSMC (
click here). Access the SLSMC website (click here). Access a release from SLSDC (click here). Access the SLSDC website (click here). Access the SLSMC Ballast Water website for extensive information (click here). Access the HOW statement (click here).