On October 18, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a supplemental notice of proposed rulemaking to the Vessel Incidental Discharge Act (VIDA). In 2020, the agency proposed national standards of performance for marine pollution control devices for discharges incidental to the normal operation of non-military and non-recreational vessels 79+ feet in length into U.S. waters. This supplemental notice proposes additional regulatory options that EPA is considering for discharges from ballast tanks, hulls and niche areas, and graywater systems.

EPA is seeking comments on the following topics related to hulls and associated niche areas under VIDA by Dec. 18, 2023:

  • New definitions for the terms “active discharge of biofouling,” “microfouling,” “macrofouling,” “passive discharge of biofouling,” “anti-fouling coating,” “anti-fouling system,” “biofouling,” “niche areas,” and others;
  • Prohibition of any discharges from in-water cleaning without capture of macrofouling;
  • Exclusion of discharges from in-water cleaning and capture systems/activities from VIDA regulations; and
  • Elimination of the use of terms such as “local in origin” and “plume or cloud of paint” when referring to cleaning activities and fouling rating to identify applicable cleaning requirements.

The agency is also requesting comment on the numeric ballast water discharge standard (which remains unchanged from the proposal in 2020), as well as an additional option to require vessel operators to address and identify their ballast water uptake practices as part of their ballast water management plan.

U.S. EPA is soliciting public comments exclusively on the topics raised in the supplemental notice and not on any other provisions of the proposed rule from 2020.

ACA will coordinate its comments as guided by its Marine Coatings Leadership Council.

Contact ACA’s Rhett Cash for more information.