Headlines: Mississippi River – closed at mouth due to grounding; Houston Ship Channel – re-opened to navigation; Savannah – oil spill update; Chicago Sanitary & Ship Canal – temporary safety zone and RNA; Henderson Harbor – special anchorage area; St. George Reef Light – incidental taking of marine mammals; Hawaii – maritime companies ordered to control stormwater runoff; DHS – QHSR – third national dialogue; CG Authorization Act approved by Transportation Committee; Fatal injury incurred in graving dock subject to admiralty jurisdiction; and EC – new block exemption regulation for liner shipping consortia.
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Mississippi River – closed at mouth due to grounding
The US Coast Guard issued a news release stating that it has closed the Lower Mississippi River near Pilottown to navigation by deep-draft vessels due to the grounding of a tanker. There are no reports of injury or oil spillage. Efforts to refloat the vessel are ongoing. The incident is under investigation. (9/28/09).
Houston Ship Channel – re-opened to navigation
The US Coast Guard issued a news release stating that the portion of the Houston Ship Channel that was closed to navigation after a cargo vessel allided with a barge and spilled some fuel oil has been re-opened. Cleanup is ongoing, but mostly along the shoreline. Marine traffic through the area has resumed, but at slow speed. (9/28/09).
Savannah – oil spill update
The US Coast Guard issued a news release updating the situation regarding the oil spill from the cargo vessel off the coast of Georgia near Savannah. The vessel reports that 97 gallons of fuel oil is unaccounted for. The oil sheen has dissipated. Monitoring effects will continue. The condition of the ship is being assessed. (9/28/09).
Chicago Sanitary & Ship Canal – temporary safety zone and RNA
The US Coast Guard has established, through October 16, a temporary safety zone and regulated navigation area (RNA) placing navigational and operational restrictions on all vessels transiting the Chicago Sanitary & Ship Canal in the vicinity of the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) electrical dispersal fish barrier system near Romeoville, Illinois. 74 Fed. Reg. 49815 (September 29, 2009).
Henderson Harbor, New York – special anchorage area
The US Coast Guard has amended its regulations regarding the special anchorage area at Henderson Harbor, New York (near where Lake Ontario flows into the St. Lawrence River) to remove the requirement for obtaining permission from the local Harbormaster prior to mooring or anchoring in the special anchorage area. 74 Fed. Reg. 49813 (September 29, 2009).
St. George Reef Light – incidental taking of marine mammals
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) issued a notice stating that it received an application from the St. George Reef Lighthouse Preservation Society for the incidental take by harassment of marine mammals during restoration and maintenance work on the light station. Comments on the application should be submitted by October 29. 74 Fed. Reg. 49852 (September 29, 2009).
Hawaii – maritime companies ordered to control stormwater runoff
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a press release stating that it ordered two maritime companies in Honolulu to comply with Federal Water Pollution Control Act (FWPCA) requirements for stormwater runoff at their facilities. One company did not have a permit or a stormwater pollution control plan. The other company failed to comply with its stormwater permit. (9/28/09). Note: This action by the EPA is particularly important now that most commercial vessels are required to have permits for discharges incidental to their normal operations.
DHS – QHSR – third national dialogue
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued a notice reminding stakeholders that the Quadrennial Homeland Security Review (QHSR) has commenced its third and final National Dialogue. The dialogue runs through October 4. (9/28/09). Note: The maritime sector has not fully participated in the QHSR. As a result, its interests are becoming overshadowed by other sectors. This is your last opportunity to be heard in this forum until the next review in four years.
CG Authorization Act approved by Transportation Committee
The House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure issued a press release stating that it approved by voice vote the Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2010 (H.R. 3619). Among other things, the bill would authorize $153 million for design and construction of a new icebreaker for the Great Lakes. The Committee also approved the Clean Hull Act of 2009 (H.R. 3619), which would implement the International Convention on the Control of Harmful Anti-Fouling Systems on Ships. The measures now go to the floor for consideration by the full House. (9/24/09).
Fatal injury incurred in graving dock subject to admiralty jurisdiction
The US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit ruled that admiralty tort jurisdiction applies to a fatal injury incurred in a graving dock, even though there was no water in the dock at the time in the incident. In the instant case, a barge was being renovated in a graving dock at the Brooklyn Navy Shipyard. A welder working on the floor of a tank in the barge needed to get to an upper deck. As he was climbing the ladder, a co-worker started descending. When the two individuals met (about eight feet above the floor), the decedent stepped off the ladder and onto some protruding angle irons. Instead of waiting for the co-worker to pass, decedent started ascending by climbing the angle irons. He slipped and fell to his death. The district court dismissed the complaint, finding no negligence on the part of the shipyard. Plaintiff (decedent’s representative appealed. In affirming the dismissal, the appellate court examined the issue of federal jurisdiction. It found that a graving dock, even when temporarily emptied, was still part of the navigable waters of the United States. The court also found that ship repair in a graving dock has a substantial relationship to traditional maritime activity. Vasquez v. GMD Shipyard Corp., No. 08-4566-cv (2nd Cir., September 15, 2009).
EC – new block exemption regulation for liner shipping consortia
The European Commission (EC) issued a press release stating that it adopted a new block exemption regulation revising the current exemption for liner shipping consortia from the EC Treaty’s ban on restrictive business practices. The new regulation reduces the market share threshold from 35% to 30%, above which companies will not qualify for automatic exemption. It also extends the scope of the exemption to all cargo liner shipping services. The new regulation will come into effect on 25 April 2010, when the current regulation expires. The new regulation will remain in effect for five years. The EC also released a set of frequently asked questions regarding its action. (9/28/09).
If you have questions regarding the above items, please contact the editor:
Dennis L. Bryant
Bryant’s Maritime Consulting
4845 SW 91st Way
Gainesville, FL 32608-8135
© Dennis L. Bryant – September 2009