EPA Releases Guidance on Fuel Availability Provisions for Ships Operating Off the Coast of North America
(WASHINGTON, 06/26/2012) – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency released interim guidance for ship owners and operators clarifying how the U.S. government will implement fuel availability provisions when ships are unable to obtain fuel that meets standards protecting against sulfur pollution along the coast. Sulfur pollution has been linked to respiratory illnesses, particularly in at-risk populations including children, the elderly, and asthmatics. The International Maritime Organization (IMO) has officially designated waters off of the coast of North America, known as the North American Emission Control Area (North American ECA), as areas where stringent international pollution standards apply for ships, including fuel sulfur limits. The guidance provides background information on the North American ECA fuel sulfur standards, explains how owners and operators of vessels can establish compliance with these requirements, and describes how an owner or operator of a vessel who cannot obtain compliant fuel oil can make a fuel oil non-availability claim.