Environmental Response Policy

3/19/2018: Updated marine casualty reporting property damage thresholds Final Rule published

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The Coast Guard announced in the Federal Register an amendment to the monetary property damage threshold amounts for reporting a marine casualty and for reporting a type of marine casualty called a “serious marine incident” (SMI). The original regulations that set these dollar threshold amounts were written in the 1980s and have not been updated since that time. Because the monetary thresholds for reporting have not kept pace with inflation, vessel owners and operators have been required to report relatively minor casualties. Additionally, the original regulations require mandatory drug and alcohol testing following a serious marine incident. As a result, vessel owners and operators are conducting testing for casualties that are less significant than those intended to be captured by the original regulations. Updating the original regulations will reduce the burden on vessel owners and operators, and will also reduce the amount of Coast Guard resources expended to investigate these incidents.

This final rule changes the reportable marine casualty property damage threshold amount from $25,000 to $75,000. In the notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM), we proposed to make this threshold $72,000, but chose $75,000 for reasons explained in the next section of this preamble. This final rule also changes the SMI property damage threshold from $100,000 to $200,000. This change is the same as that proposed in the NPRM.

With the dollar amount thresholds updated to account for inflation, we expect there will be a decrease in the number of commercial vessel casualties reported to the Coast Guard. The updates in this final rule will also likely decrease the number of casualties that fall within the definition of an SMI, and thereby reduce the number of chemical tests administered following an SMI that results in $100,000.01 to $200,000 worth of property damage. However, mandatory chemical testing will still be required if the property damage meets the updated dollar threshold amount (in excess of $200,000) established in this final rule. Our intent in setting a dollar amount threshold in our marine casualty reporting regulation and within the definition of “serious marine incident” was, and remains, to ensure that the Coast Guard is aware of those incidents that could be indicative of more serious problems that may be averted in the future with timely intervention.

We expect that this final rule will result in an estimated annual cost savings to industry of $40,809 due to a reduction in the hourly burden of reporting and recordkeeping for both marine casualties and SMIs, and an estimated annual cost savings of $4,751 for chemical testing for marine casualties designated as SMIs. This final rule will also result in cost savings to the Coast Guard by reducing the hourly burden costs to investigate marine casualties, as well as the costs associated with processing marine casualty forms. As a result, the maritime industry and Coast Guard resources will be able to focus their efforts on higher consequence incidents.

For full details, read the Final Rule.

For information about this document, call or email Lt. Cmdr. Baxter B. Smoak, CG-INV at 202-372-1223, or email Baxter.B.Smoak@uscg.mil.

This blog is not a replacement or substitute for the formal posting of regulations and updates or existing processes for receiving formal feedback of the same. Links provided on this blog will direct the reader to official source documents, such as the Federal Register, Homeport and the Code of Federal Regulations. These documents remain the official source for regulatory information published by the Coast Guard.

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