Commercial Vessel Compliance

Waste Reception Facility Series Part 2: Services provided by 3rd party contractors

Editor’s Note: In Part 2 of our series on Waste Reception Facility regulatory requirements, the Facility Safety Branch staff writes about minimizing the risk of erroneous reports of inadequate reception facility, and the need for ports/terminals to maintain continued oversight of the reception facility services provided by third party contractors.

Submitted by Galia Kaplan, Facility Safety Branch

Reception Facility Service Providers

As discussed in the first blog of this series, when applying for a Certificate of Adequacy (COA), the port/terminal must provide the particulars of the company they plan to use for waste reception/removal services, and update this information with the Coast Guard if it changes. 

While ports/terminals hold valid COAs and have the responsibility to provide or make waste reception services available, vessels calling at the ports/terminals are under no obligation to use the service providers selected by the ports/terminals. Ships’ agents typically make these arrangements and will use service providers already under contract with the shipping company or select another company, which may not be the same as the one selected by the port/terminal in their COA.

The fact that the agent contracts the service does not remove the responsibility from the port/terminal to ensure adequate reception facilities are available.  Applications for a COA must clearly list the name of the company identified to provide a specific waste reception service. Statements such as “At Agent’s discretion” on an application for a COA are not acceptable.

While having agents arrange waste removal services may work well in many instances, it becomes problematic for the ship and port/terminal when the reception facility hired by the agent fails to meet the standards of adequacy outlined in 33 CFR 158. 

Ships have the option to report inadequate reception facilities to their Flag State and then on to the International Maritime Organization (IMO).  In so doing, the alleged inadequacy will be listed under the name of the port/terminal, and not the name of the third party contracted to provide the service. While a follow on investigation may absolve the port/terminal of any responsibility, the report remains listed on the IMO Global Integrated Shipping Information System (GISIS) website under the port/terminal’s name. Consider the following example:

A bulk carrier pulling into a terminal asked their agent to arrange services from their contracted company, Company A, for oily waste removal. The COA Application submitted by the terminal identified Company B as their third party oily waste reception facility service provider. Company A notifies the ship half way through their transfer operations that they have exceeded their holding capacity and are unable to take any additional waste until much later that day, delaying the ship’s departure. The ship later reports the inadequacy (undue delay) to its Flag State, which then submits a report to the IMO. This report is posted for public view on the GISIS website, listing the terminal as providing an inadequate oily waste reception facility.  Follow on investigation into the alleged inadequacy reveals that the agent/ship never contacted the terminal to request oily waste removal services, nor did they contact the terminal when the issue arose with their service provider, Company A. Had the ship/agent been in communication with the terminal, Company B would have been available to provide the service, having more than enough capacity to complete the operation, or would have been able to take over transfer operations without creating any undue delay to the ship once Company A had maxed out their capacity.

In this example, the terminal was erroneously identified as providing inadequate reception facilities, while in reality it was the company hired independently from the terminal that failed to be adequate.  In investigating reports of alleged inadequacy, CG-FAC-2 has noted multiple instances of such examples, and therefore the Coast Guard urges ship operators and their agents to address all reception facility issues with the port/terminal directly and determine the responsible party before submitting any reports of alleged inadequacy.

Should the situation fail to be resolved at the port/terminal level, we highly encourage ship operators/agents to report such alleged inadequacies to the Captain of the Port (COTP) while the vessel is still at the port/terminal, so the Coast Guard can assist in rectifying the situation.  A list of COTP contacts can be found on Homeport. Additional information on reporting inadequacies can be found in Navigation and Vessel Inspection Circular (NVIC) 4-87, Change 1.

In order to minimize the risk of erroneous reports of an inadequate reception facility, the Coast Guard highly encourages ports/terminals to maintain continued oversight of the reception facility services provided by third party contractors and remain engaged with vessels and their agents regarding their port reception facility needs.

Readers may contact Galia Kaplan at 202-372-1145 galia.kaplan@uscg.mil with any questions or comments.

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.