Headlines: OSHA – authority over vessels; USCG – CO2 fire suppression systems – proposal; NOAA – meeting re oil and gas activities in the Arctic Ocean; Minnesota – meeting re St. Croix River ATON; FMC – reminder re NVOCC tariff rate filing; USN – women to serve on submarines; Court – Buzzards Bay oil spill claim remanded for further analysis; and Washington – civil penalties for pollution violations.
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OSHA – authority over vessels
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued an instruction providing current agency policy, information, and guidance with respect to OSHA authority over persons working on vessels and facilities on or adjacent to US navigable waters and the outer continental shelf (OCS). Of particular note is the statement in the instruction that OSHA will continue to provide safety and health coverage of employees on US towing vessels until such time as the US Coast Guard issues inspected vessel regulations for these vessels. The instruction further notes that inspected vessels are required to carry a Certificate of Inspection (COI) issued by the Coast Guard. It also states that USCG regulations do not preempt OSHA recordkeeping and accident reporting regulations. This latter comment concerning recordkeeping and accident reporting reflects an ongoing disagreement between OSHA and the Coast Guard regarding whether the Coast Guard’s plenary authority over the US merchant marine (or at least that portion of the merchant marine subject to inspection) prevents OSHA from requiring recordkeeping and reporting with respect to working conditions for crewmembers. OSHA generally does not push the issue, but it is also not willing to concede the point. Meanwhile, OSHA will continue to exercise its authority over towing vessels until the Coast Guard inspection regulations are officially promulgated and implemented. CPL 02-01-047 (2/22/10). Note: This new instruction was brought to my attention by my friend Ron Signorino of the Blueoceana Company.
USCG – CO2 fire suppression systems – proposal
The US Coast Guard proposes to amend its regulations for fire suppression systems on several classes of commercial vessels. The amendments would clarify that approved alternatives to carbon dioxide systems may be used to protect some spaces on these vessels and would set general requirements for alternative systems. Additionally, new and existing carbon dioxide systems, when used in spaces that can be accessed by persons on board the specified commercial vessels, would need to be equipped with lockout valves and olfactory additives to protect persons in the event of a carbon dioxide discharge. Comments on the proposal should be submitted by May 25. 75 Fed. Reg. 8431 (February 24, 2010).
NOAA – meetings re oil and gas activities in the Arctic Ocean
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) will conduct five scoping meetings to receive public comments on its planned environmental impact statement on the effects of oil and gas activities in the Arctic Ocean. Meeting will be held in Wainwright (March 9); Barrow (March 10); Nuiqsut (March 11); Kaktovik (March 12); and Anchorage (March 23). Written comments should be submitted by April 9. 75 Fed. Reg. 8304 (February 24, 2010).
Minnesota – meeting re St. Croix River ATON
The US Coast Guard will conduct a meeting in Stillwater, Minnesota on March 2 in order to receive public comment on aids to navigation (ATON) on the St. Croix River. Written comments should be submitted by March 2. 75 Fed. Reg. 8390 (February 24, 2010).
FMC – reminder re NVOCC tariff rate filing
The Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) issued a notice reminding the maritime community that the current tariff rate filing requirements for non-vessel-operating common carriers (NVOCCs) remain in effect until completion of the rulemaking that the Commission voted last week to initiate. (2/23/10).
USN – women to serve on submarines
The Department of Defense (DOD) issued a news release stating that the US Navy plans to repeal its ban on women serving on submarines. The phase-in will not begin until Congress has been in session for at least 30 days following official notification of the new policy. (2/23/10). Note: I remember when women started serving in Coast Guard cutters. One of the biggest changes was that they put potted plants in the urinals of the newly designed women’s heads.
Court – Buzzards Bay oil spill claim remanded for further analysis
The US Court of Appeals for the First Circuit remanded a claim for damages resulting from the 2003 oil spill in Buzzards Bay. Plaintiff residential property owner had sought certification of a proposed class of residents of the Buzzards Bay shore who were similarly situated. The district court denied the certification. The appellate court reversed and remanded because it found that the district court did not subject the parties’ contentions to the plenary analysis that precedent requires. Gintis v. Bouchard Transportation Company, No. 09-1717 (1st Cir., February 23, 2010). Interestingly, the opinion was written by Supreme Court Justice David Souter (retired) sitting by designation.
Washington – civil penalties for pollution violations
The Washington State Department of Ecology issued a news release summarizing civil penalties assessed during the fourth quarter of 2009 for pollution violations. Vessels were involved in a number of the violations. (2/19/10).
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 – February 2010