Following on yet another train derailment, this time in Plaster Rock, New Brunswick, the Honourable Lisa Raitt, Minister of Transport, announced proposed regulatory amendments to further improve the safety of the transportation of dangerous goods by rail. These amendments are published in the Canada Gazette, Part I, on January 11, 2014.

The proposed regulations will introduce new standards for certain rail tank cars, replacing existing standards referenced in the Transportation of Dangerous Goods Regulations. For example, it will require that new DOT 111 tank cars be built with thicker steel requirements, as well as adding top fitting and head shield protection to the tank car. DOT 111 tank cars are used for transporting dangerous goods of high and medium danger, such as crude oil.

Friday, 10 January 2014 13:27

New California regs now in force

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On January 1, California set a leading edge in being the first jurisdiction in the world to require that container ships begin using shore power while at berth. The new “Vessels at Berth Regulations” will be phased in over the next six years with 50% of every container carrier’s fleet calling in California now being required to hook up to shore power, increasing to 70% on January 1, 2017, and 80% on Jan. 1, 2020. However, in showing some much needed pragmatism for a change, on Dec. 23, 2013 CARB issued an advisory that the “commissioning” of vessels could continue through June 30, 2014. At the same time, the allowable sulphur limit for both gas and diesel oil being burned in California’s waters was reduced to 0.1%, one year in advance of ECA regulations requiring same.

Unrelated to the above, vessels calling at California ports will also soon face new rules to curb bio-fouling. Draft regulations from the California State Land Commission are being prepared for implementation on January 1, 2015. The new rules which stipulate that a hull must have less than 5% bio-fouling or in a niche area less than 10%, have the same aim as ballast water regulations in so much as they seek to curb the spread of invasive aquatic species by specifying the percentage of biofouling permitted on the underwater parts of the ship’s hull. Niche areas are the sea chest and gratings, bow and stern thruster and gratings, fin stabilizers and recesses, propeller shaft, propeller and rudders. As is the case with ballast water rules, the bio-fouling rules will require presentation of a specific bio-fouling management plan and record book, listing dockings and cleaning activity. Australia and New Zealand have both played a role in crafting the regulations since they too are intent on adopting something similar and are believed to be preparing a case for IMO consideration.

Friday, 10 January 2014 13:26

CSA calls for VGP reconsideration

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After several months of unproductive lobbying, The Canadian Shipowners Association (CSA) has publicly voiced concern over the US Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) new Vessel General Permit (VGP), which came into effect on December 19.  The new VGP regulates discharges from commercial vessels, including ballast water but a report released by CSA has concluded that the installation of ballast water management systems on Canadian domestic vessels beginning in 2014 will cost the Canadian economy $1.1 billion over the next five years.  However there is more to the story given that shipowners cannot comply with the regulations “since the technology to do so does not exist" underlines CSA President Robert Lewis-Manning. As a consequence of the deadlock, CSA announced this week that it has decided to formally petition the U.S. Court of Appeals of the Second Circuit for a review of the VGP, and more specifically, the Jan 1, 2014 compliance deadline.

Published in the Canada Gazette Part II on December 19th are minor amendments made to the following regulations under the Canada Shipping Act, 2001:

  • Life Saving Equipment Regulations (C.R.C., c. 1436, as amended by SOR/2001-179 and SOR/2006-256);
  • Response Organizations and Oil Handling Facilities Regulations (SOR/95-405);
  • Vessels Registry Fees Tariff (SOR/2002-172, as amended by SOR/2007-100);
  • Load Line Regulations (SOR/2007-99);
  • Vessel Clearance Regulations (SOR/2007-125);
  • Environmental Response Arrangements Regulations (SOR/2008-275);
  • Fire and Boat Drills Regulations (SOR/2010-83);
  • Long-Range Identification and Tracking of Vessels Regulations (SOR/2010-227);
  • Marine Liability Regulations (SOR/2002-307).

and amend the following Regulations made under the Marine Liability Act:

The amendments are the result of a Standing Joint Committee for the Scrutiny of Regulations (SJCSR) reviews matters of legality and the procedural aspects of federal regulations. The SJCSR reviewed the regulations listed below and noted some inconsistencies between the English and French versions.

As well, three minor amendments have been made to the Small Vessel Regulations. These errors were identified after the publication of the Small Vessel Regulations (SOR/2010-91) in Part II of the Canada Gazette on May 12, 2010. Three minor errors in the French version of the Vessel Pollution and Dangerous Chemicals Regulations are also being addressed. These errors were identified after the publication of theRegulations Amending the Vessel Pollution and Dangerous Chemicals Regulations (SOR/2013-68) in Part II of the Canada Gazette on May 8, 2013.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Barack Obama, President of the United States, welcomed the release of the second annual Beyond the Border Action Plan Implementation Report. This report outlines the progress made by Canada and the United States to implement the Beyond the Border Action Plan - an agreement that was put in place to enhance our mutual security, prosperity and economic competitiveness.

Friday, 20 December 2013 12:19

Drug seizures highlighted

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CBSA announced last week the seizure of around 130 kilograms of cocaine hidden inside a refrigerated container originating from Russia. The container was apparently documented as containing 25,000 kg of food products, however a high-energy X-ray machine revealed something more. A physical examination located 109 bricks of cocaine hidden in the ceiling of the container.The CBSA welcomes all tips on suspicious cross-border activity. Please call the Border Watch Toll-free Line at 1-888-502-9060.

Meanwhile the Venezuelan navy has reportedly seized nearly 15kg of cocaine in the engine room of the German container ship CSF Pafilia and authorities in the Dominican Republic have found 250 packages of cocaine hidden in a container, also on a German container ship the

Bodo Schulte.

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The California Air Resources Board (CARB) has issued a reminder to vessel owners and operators that effective January 1 2014, vessels within 24 nautical miles of the California coast line are required to comply with  Phase II fuel requirements requiring use of marine gas oil or marine diesel oil with sulphur levels at or below 0.1%.  California’s regulations contain a Noncompliance Fee Provision in the event of vessels being unable to access compliant fuel which will allow for a one time no fee transit in 2014 “if they make a good faith effort to acquire compliant fuel and are unable to do so”.  More details are provided in CARB Marine Notice 2013-1 at http://www.arb.ca.gov/ports/marinevess/ogv.htm .

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