Coast Guard Sector Anchorage steps-up enforcement of tank vessel response plan violations

Coast Guard Alaska News
ANCHORAGE, Alaska — The Coast Guard Captain of the Port for Western Alaska, Capt. Paul Mehler III, has begun issuing monetary penalties to vessel operators in violation of federal regulations related to tank vessel response plan requirements.

Tank vessels bound to or from a U.S. port and transiting through the Western Alaska COTP Zone must have an approved Geographic Specific Appendix in their VRP for Western Alaska prior to transiting or operating within the Captain of the Port Zone if carrying oil in bulk as cargo or oil cargo residue. Violation of this requirement can include the issuance of a Letter of Warning, Notice of Violation, or a Civil Penalty, but the decision to issue monetary penalties was reached after an increased number of violations occurred.

Vessel owners failing to comply with Title 33 Code of Federal Regulations Part 155 Subpart D will be issued a monetary penalty not to exceed the maximum penalty of up to $11,000 per violation, per day.

In 2012, an Alternate Planning Criteria was established by the Alaska Maritime Prevention & Response Network to enable tank vessels operating in Western Alaska to comply with an appropriate alternative to the National Planning Criteria established under Title 33 CFR Part 155.

“Since the Alaska Maritime Prevention & Response Network’s Alternative Planning Criteria for tank vessels was approved by the Coast Guard, we have issued 17 Letters of Warning to vessel operators violating these regulations,” said Lt. Ryan Butler, Assistant Chief, Inspections Division, Sector Anchorage. “The tank vessel APC has been approved for over a year now, giving vessel operators ample time to comply. We’re now switching to monetary penalties as a stricter means of enforcing these regulations and to ensure that tank vessels operating within the harsh and unforgiving Western Alaska COTP zone are adequately planning to mitigate and respond to a potential oil spill.”

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