Coast Guard publishes final rule for facility, vessel response plans

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Coast Guard’s Marine Safety, Security, and Stewardship Directorate announced Monday publication in the Federal Register of a final rule designed to improve pollution-response preparedness for vessels and facilities carrying or handling oil upon the navigable waters of the United States.

This final rule, applicable upon all navigable waters of the U.S. including the exclusive economic zone and adjoining shorelines, updates Coast Guard requirements for oil-spill removal equipment associated with vessel response plans and marine transportation-related facility response plans. These regulatory updates add requirements for plan holders to use new response technologies and revise methods and procedures for oil spill response. The final rule is based on the Coast Guard’s ongoing review of these requirements.

This final rule follows consideration of public comments about its potential impact.

The Coast Guard is also revising the compliance date for updates to vessel response plans required by the Salvage and Marine Firefighting final rule published Dec. 31, 2008 (73 FR 80618). This new compliance date of Feb. 22, 2011, ensures plan holders will not be required to update their VRPs twice within a 12-month period.

The Coast Guard welcomes review of the final rule and its supporting documents, which may be found online at http://www.regulations.gov, docket number USCG-2001-8661.

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