Headlines: US & Mexico – swine flu investigation; California – Low Carbon Fuel Standard; piratical attacks; vessel owner and chief engineer plead guilty; St. Lawrence Seaway regulatory changes; TWIC update; Oregon – LNG letters of recommendation
April 27, 2009
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US & Mexico – swine flu investigation
The US Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a news release stating that it is investigating cases of swine flu in California and Texas that appear to be related to an outbreak of swine flu in Mexico. This strain of swine flu is type H1N1, which is different than the bird flu (H5N1) that originated in southeastern Asia several years ago. This swine flu strain is new and individuals do not have immunity. The World Health Organization (WHO) issued a press release stating that its Emergency Committee is assessing the situation and that the swine flu outbreak constitutes a public health emergency of international concern. The Department of Homeland Security issued a press briefing stating that preparations are being initiated to address this health emergency. Among other things, persons arriving in the United States from infected areas of Mexico are being screened. Note: This is a rapidly evolving situation, involving a flu strain that was only discovered to exist about 120 hours ago. Unconfirmed reports indicate possible swine flu cases in Canada, New Zealand and various countries in Europe. Screenings of passengers arriving from Mexico are being implemented at some Asian airports. In light of the outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) in 2003, maritime companies would be well-advised to revisit their pandemic emergency plans. It would be premature to implement such plans at this time, but those plans should be brought up-to-date nevertheless. (4/25/09).
California – Low Carbon Fuel Standard
The California Air Resources Board (CARB), in cooperation with the California Energy Commission, adopted the Low Carbon Fuel Standard. This controversial standard assigns a carbon level to each fuel sold in the state. It then mandates that the level for each fuel be reduced by 10% by not later than 2020. The goal of the new regulation, according to a CARB news release, is to encourage use of alternative energy. Note: The standard will apply to, among other things, bunkers sold in the state. This development is being closely followed by other states, the federal government, and foreign governments. Watch for similar schemes to be implemented in other jurisdictions. (4/23/09).
EU MSC(HOA) – grain carrier hijacked in Gulf of Aden; attack on cruise ship foiled
The EU Maritime Security Centre-Horn of Africa [MSC(HOA)] issued a press release stating that a 31,000 tonnes German-owned grain carrier was hijacked in the eastern end of the Gulf of Aden. The 17-man crew is believed to be unhurt. A second press release states that an Italian cruise ship was unsuccessfully attacked north of the Seychelles islands. Unconfirmed reports indicate that the cruise ship Melody fended off the pirates through, in part, use of an armed security team. (4/25/09).
DOJ – vessel owner and chief engineer plead guilty
The US Department of Justice issued a news release stating that the owner of a foreign freighter pleaded guilty in federal court to conspiracy, falsifying the ship’s oil record book (ORB), and failing to properly maintain the ORB. The chief engineer of the freighter pleaded guilty to failing to maintain the ORB and to making false statements to the Coast Guard. The owner has agreed to pay a $2 million fine, to make a $200,000 community service payment, and to implement a court-monitored environmental compliance program. (4/24/09).
St. Lawrence Seaway – changes to joint regulations
The Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation (SLSDC) and the St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation (SLSMC) of Canada are amending the St. Lawrence Seaway Regulations and Rules. The changes update the following sections of those Regulations and Rules: Condition of Vessels; Seaway Navigation, Toll Assessment and Payment; Information and Reports; and Navigation Closing Procedures. The changes come into effect on May 27. 74 Fed. Reg. 18993 (April 27, 2009).
TSA – TWIC update
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) issued an update to its status report on the implementation of the Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC) program. The TWIC Dashboard shows that (as of 23 April) 1,141,292 maritime workers have enrolled for a TWIC and that 934,216 cards have been activated. (4/23/09).
Oregon – LNG letters of recommendation
The US Coast Guard issued a press release stating that it has completed its actions as a Cooperating Agency to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) with regard to applications received by FERC for licenses to construct and operate liquefied natural gas (LNG) import facilities at Bradford (mile 38 on the Columbia River); Jordan Cove in Coos Bay; and Warrenton (mile 8 on the Columbia River). Based on a detailed Waterway Suitability Assessment for each proposed facility, the Coast Guard determined that applicable portions of the waterways are not currently suitable for the planned marine traffic, but could be made suitable if certain risk mitigation measures are undertaken. The Coast Guard has submitted the Letters of Recommendation for each project to FERC for that agency’s consideration. (4/21/09).
USCG – mariners reminded to avoid large passenger vessels
The US Coast Guard issued a press release reminding mariners on recreational vessels and other small craft to avoid large passenger vessels. These large vessels are not as maneuverable as small craft. Safety and security zones have been established around large passenger vessels and certain other large vessels. (4/24/09).
Hawaii – enforcing humpback whale protections
The US Coast Guard issued a press release stating that it continues to enforce regulations to protect whales in waters around Hawaii, particularly in the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary. (4/24/09).
USCG – support for unmanned aircraft tests
The US Coast Guard issued a press release stating that one of its coastal patrol boats provided support for trials of unmanned aircraft in the northern Channel Islands of California. The tests are being conducted by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and other agencies to determine the feasibility of utilizing unmanned aircraft to obtain data from distant marine protected areas. (4/24/09).
New Zealand – prohibited and restricted imports
The New Zealand Customs Service issued an updated list of goods that may not be imported into New Zealand or are subject to restrictions on importation. (4/24/09).
Singapore – chemical spill response exercise
The Singapore Maritime and Port Authority (MPA) issued a news release stating that, as part of the International Chemical and Oil Pollution Conference & Exhibition (COPCE), it and other stakeholders conducted a chemical spill response exercise involving a collision between an oil tanker and a chemical tanker at the Eastern Anchorage. (4/24/09).
If you have questions regarding the above items, please contact the editor:
Dennis L. Bryant
Bryant’s Maritime Blog
4845 SW 91st Way
Gainesville, FL 32608-8135
© Dennis L. Bryant – April 2009