Friday, July 11, 2008

Groups Says Dry Cargo Dumping Proposal Is Illegal

Jul 11: Several groups have issued a release encouraging Great Lakes interests to participate in commenting on the proposed rule and attending meetings on the Coast Guard's proposal for Dry Residue Discharges in the Great Lakes [See WIMS 6/13/08]. The groups include: Alliance for the Great Lakes, Great Lakes United, Lake Ontario Waterkeeper, and National Wildlife Federation.

On June 6, the Coast Guard announced two public meetings for its May 23, 2008 notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) [73 FR 30014-30029] on dry cargo residue (DCR) discharges in the Great Lakes and its supporting Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) to be held in Duluth, Minnesota, and Cleveland, Ohio, in July 2008. The meetings are scheduled for Duluth, MN, July 15, 2008, 1-5 PM; and Cleveland, OH, July 17, 2008, 1-5 PM. Comments and related material must be received on or before July 22, 2008.

According the group release, "Clear laws exist on both the international and domestic levels that prohibit the dumping of garbage in any of the internal waterways of the United States. The International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL) is the primary international treaty covering the discharge of pollutants into the ocean. The United States is signatory to MARPOL, which articulates that garbage is not to be dumped within 12 nautical miles off the oceanic coast and therefore does not allow dumping in the Great Lakes. To implement MARPOL Congress passed the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships (APPS) in 1987. Under both MARPOL and APPS operational wastes (i.e.: cargo residues) fall under the definition of garbage.

"The Coast Guard’s draft interim enforcement policy required under APPS, in place since 1997, has allowed ships to 'sweep' cargo residues that litter vessel decks off the side of the ship and into the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River Basin. Congress recently ordered the Coast Guard to examine cargo sweeping and its effects and the Coast Guard has now proposed a rulemaking on the practice. The Coast Guard’s proposed rule is illegal, because dry cargo residues fall under the description of garbage in domestic and international law and are thus prohibited to be dumped into inland waters. The Coast Guard should be developing rules that set standards and deadlines to virtually eliminate dry cargo dumping to protect the Great Lakes- St. Lawrence River ecosystem and comply with the law!"

Access a release from the groups and links to additional background information (click here).