Federal Register on Non-Tank Vessel Response Planning Regulations
On September 30, the U.S. Coast Guard released the final regulations [Federal Register Vol. 78, No. 189] requiring non-tank vessels to have plans in place similar to those required of tank vessels since the late 1990s. The new regulations also include salvage and marine firefighting, again similar to the tank vessel requirements. The CIRA Advisory Panel recommended promulgation of the regulations as a risk reduction option for Cook Inlet that was ready for immediate or ongoing implementation [Risk Reduction Options for Immediate or Sustained Implementation]. Based on the vessel traffic study conducted for the project, a fairly small number of vessels made 80% of the annual traffic calls to Cook Inlet in 2010. Ten of the 15 frequent visitors were non-tank vessels that will now be subject to the spill response planning regulations. Combined, these non-tank vessels spent an estimated 695 days in Cook Inlet that year, while the five tank vessels that frequent the Inlet spent a combined, estimated 234 days in the Inlet. Additional non-tank vessels made infrequent port calls to Cook Inlet or passed through lower Cook Inlet without stopping. The State of Alaska has had contingency planning regulations in place for non-tank vessels since 2003, but the federal non-tank vessel response planning regulations require planning for a larger potential spill.