Commercial Vessel Compliance

Waste Reception Facility Series Part 1: Documentation

Editor’s note: The Coast Guard Headquarters Office of Port and Facility Compliance (CG-FAC) is reviewing the U.S. implementation of the port reception facility aspects of Maritime Pollution (MARPOL) regulations, which requires certain ports, terminals and shipyards to provide waste reception facilities for ships’ oily mixtures, Noxious Liquid Substances, and garbage. Over a series of four blogs, CG-FAC-2 will provide clarification on some of the regulatory requirements found in 33 CFR 158 – Reception Facilities for Oil, Noxious Liquid Substance and Garbage, and provide information on the roles and responsibilities of ports/terminals, vessels, and their agents when requesting and providing reception facility services.

Submitted by Galia Kaplan, Facility Safety Branch

Certificates of Adequacy Documentation

Coast Guard facility inspectors, when conducting a Certificate of Adequacy inspection, will review not only the Certificate of Adequacy (COA) form but also the application(s) submitted by the port/terminal or shipyard to which the certificate was issued, and any waivers and alternatives issued by the Captain of the Port (COTP). This package of documents; application(s), waiver and alternatives and COA form, is collectively known as a COA and together constitute a valid COA (see 33 CFR 158.120 Definition of COA and 33 CFR 158.160 (d) regarding waivers). In other words, a COA is not complete and may be deemed invalid by the COTP if it does not also include the COA form, application(s) and any waivers and alternatives.

The reason for this is that a COA form, as a standalone document, contains insufficient information from which to conduct a thorough inspection. The COA form does not provide the name of the third party the applicant has identified as providing waste reception services, nor does it specify reception and transfer requirements. This information is found in the application(s) for the COA, and, while the COA form provides some space to capture any approved waivers and alternatives, the space is minimal and the description may be incomplete or missing altogether. 

Facility inspectors during compliance activities will verify with the COA holder that the information contained in the application(s) is still valid as changes can occur over the five year validity period of the COA. COA holders are reminded that, as outlined in 33 CFR 158. 165, certain changes must be reported to the COTP within specific time frames.

For example, if the company listed on the application for the COA to remove oily waste has changed, the new company may have different capacities or ability to receive ballast waters or bilge waters containing oily mixtures from ships and may not meet the criteria for adequacy. This could require the COTP to reassess the validity of the COA or any waivers and alternatives. COA holders must be aware of this when evaluating new service providers and notify the COTP of any changes, and facility inspectors must be able to identify such changes.  Any changes that affect reception facilities’ details for that port or terminal must also be updated by Coast Guard facility inspectors in MISLE, which in turn automatically updates CGMIX. CGMIX is a public, web based list of the US ports/terminals that provide port reception facilities.

In addition to the required Coast Guard COA documentation, ports/terminals should be aware that reception facility service providers are required to hold various federal, state, or local permits or licenses. If a service provider fails to maintain the required permit or license they may no longer be authorized to serve as a reception facility. Because of this, COA holders may wish to verify the validity of permits or licenses held by their selected service providers.

Readers may contact Galia Kaplan at 202-372-1145 or with any questions or comments.

In our second post in this series, we’ll bring you a discussion about how ports/terminals can minimize the risk of being erroneously reported as having inadequate reception facilities.

Check out the other blogs in this series:
Waste Reception Facility Series Part 2: Services provided by 3rd party contractors
Waste Reception Facility Series Part 3: Waivers and alternatives
Waste Reception Facilities Series Part 4: Fishing ports and Certificates of Adequacy

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.