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EPA's Region 6 Office

Serving: Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas, and 66 Tribal Nations

General Permit for Disposal of Vessels at Sea

Vessels may be disposed of at sea under specified conditions, according to federal regulations ( Title 40 Code of Federal Regulations Part 229.3Exit EPA Disclaimer). Scroll down to section 229.3.) based on the Marine Protection, Research and Sanctuary Act of 1972. However alternatives, such as scrap and use as an artificial reef, should be considered first.

Instructions for an applicant wishing to dispose of a vessel at sea are listed below along with definitions of some of the terms used and a list of contacts for applicants wishing additional information. Please note the requirement that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) be notified sequentially at one month, 10 days, 48 hours and 12 hours before disposal of a vessel.

Applicant Instructions for Disposal of Vessels at Sea

1. One-month EPA notice

At least one month before disposal of the vessel, provide the following information in writing to the EPA Region in which the proposed disposal will take place. Copies of the notice should be sent to the Captain of the Port of the local U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) Exit EPA Disclaimer Sector and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineeers (COE), Galveston District office for Texas Exit EPA Disclaimer or the New Orleans District office Exit EPA Disclaimer for Louisiana.

i. Need-for-disposal statement. Discussion of the need for ocean disposal of the vessel.
ii. Vessel and cargo description. Type and description of vessel (including vessel's name and registration number) and type of cargo normally carried.
iii. Disposal plan. Detailed description of proposed disposal procedures (including proposed location) and requested date of disposal.
iv. Environmental impact. Information on the potential effect of disposal on the marine environment.
v. Disposal alternatives. Documentation of an adequate evaluation of alternatives to ocean disposal. Alternative methods of disposal, such as scrap, salvage, reclamation and use as an artificial reef site, shall be considered.
2. USCG supervision

Transportation to the disposal site shall be supervised by the District Commander of the USCG or his designee.

3. Measures for removing pollutants

Prior to disposal, qualified personnel shall remove all materials, to the maximum extent practical, that may degrade the marine environment. The measures include, but are not limited to:

i. Emptying all fuel lines and fuel tanks to the lowest point practicable, flushing them with water, and again emptying them to the lowest point practicable so that they are essentially free of petroleum; and
ii. Removing from the hulls other pollutants and all readily detachable material capable of creating debris or contributing to chemical pollution.
4. Ten-day notice to EPA and USCG

At least 10 days before disposal, notify the EPA and the District Commander of the USCG that the vessel has been cleaned and is available for inspection. The vessel may be transported for dumping only after EPA and the USCG agree that the requirements of paragraph 3 have been met.

5. Disposal site location

Disposal of the vessel shall take place: (a) in a site designated on current National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) charts for the disposal of wrecks or (b) at least 12 nautical miles from the nearest land and in water at least 300 feet deep. Disposal shall not take place in established shipping lanes unless at a designated wreck site, nor in a marine sanctuary Exit EPA Disclaimer , nor in a location where the hulk may present a hazard to commercial trawling or national defense.

6. Vessel preparation

All necessary measures must be taken to ensure that marine navigation is not otherwise impaired and that the vessels sink to the bottom rapidly. The towing vessel shall remain at the disposal site for at least two hours to confirm that no large portions of the disposed vessel rise to the surface or to recover any floating scrap material.

7. Disposal times

Disposal shall be performed during daylight hours only.

8. 48- and 12-hour notice to Captain-of-the Port (COTP), USCG, and EPA

The COTP, USCG, and the EPA shall be notified 48 hours in advance of disposal. In addition, the COTP and EPA shall be notified by telephone at least 12 hours before the vessel's departure from port with such details as the proposed departure time and place, disposal site location, estimated time of arrival on site, and name and communication capability of the towing vessel. Schedule changes are to be reported to the COTP as rapidly as possible.

9. NOS notification of disposal site coordinates

EPA and the National Ocean Service (NOS) office of the National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) shall be notified in writing within one week of the exact coordinates of the disposal site so that it may be marked on appropriate charts.

Nautical Data Branch
N/CS26, Room 7317
1315 East-West Highway
Silver Spring, MD 20910-3282
ATTN: Ken Forster
U.S. EPA Region 6
Marine and Coastal Section
1445 Ross Ave.
Dallas, TX 30303
Attn: Jessica Franks, Ph.D.

10. Emergencies

Only in emergency situations, as determined by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and/or the U.S. Coast Guard, shall exceptions be made for the conditions of disposal outlined in paragraphs 1, 3, 4, 7 and 8.

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