[Federal Register Volume 70, Number 168 (Wednesday, August 31, 2005)]
[Notices]
[Pages 51831-51836]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 05-17426]


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DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY

Coast Guard

[USCG-2004-19842]


Ballast Water Management for Vessels Entering the Great Lakes 
That Declare No Ballast Onboard

AGENCY: Coast Guard, DHS.

ACTION: Notice of policy; availability of draft environmental 
assessment.

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SUMMARY: To prevent the introductions of aquatic nonindigenous species 
from vessels entering the Great Lakes declaring no ballast onboard 
(NOBOB), the Coast Guard establishes best management practices for 
residual ballast water and sediment management to be followed by NOBOB 
vessels. Coast Guard also requests comments on the draft environmental 
assessment prepared for the policy.

DATES: This policy is effective on the date of publication in the 
Federal Register. Comments and related material regarding the draft 
Environmental Assessment must reach the Docket Management System on or 
before September 30, 2005.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments identified by Coast Guard docket 
number USCG-2004-19842 to the Docket management facility at the U.S. 
Department of Transportation. To avoid duplication, please use only one 
of the following methods: (1) By mail to the Docket Management Facility 
(USCG-2004-19842), U.S. Department of Transportation, Room PL-401, 400 
Seventh Street, SW., Washington, DC 20593-0001. (2) By delivery to Room 
PL-401 on the Plaza Level of the Nassif Building, 400 Seventh Street, 
SW., Washington DC between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, 
except Federal holidays. The telephone number is (202) 366-9329. (3) By 
fax to the Docket Management Facility at (202) 493-2251. (4) 
Electronically through the Web site for the Docket Management System at 
http://dms.dot.gov. The Docket Management Facility maintains the public 
docket for this notice. Comments will become part of this docket and 
will be available for inspection or copying in Room PL-401, located on 
the Plaza Level of the Nassif Building at the above address between 9 
a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, except for Federal holidays. 
You may also view this docket, including this notice and comments, on 
the Internet at http://dms.dot.gov.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: For information concerning this 
policy, call Mr. Bivan Patnaik, Project Manager, Environmental 
Standards Division, U.S. Coast Guard, telephone 202-267-1744 or via e-
mail bpatnaik@comdt.uscg.mil. If you have any questions on viewing or 
submitting material to the docket, call Ms. Andrea M. Jenkins, Program 
Manager, Docket Operations, Department of Transportation, telephone 
202-366-0271.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Regulatory History

    The Nonindigenous Aquatic Nuisance Prevention and Control Act of 
1990, as reauthorized and amended by the National Invasive Species Act 
of 1996, authorizes the Coast Guard to develop guidelines and 
regulations to prevent the introduction of nonindigenous species (NIS) 
via ballast water discharges. The Coast Guard promulgated regulations 
in the Federal Register on June 14, 2004, entitled, ``Penalties for 
Non-submission of Ballast Water Management Reports'' (68 FR 32864) and 
on July 28, 2004, entitled ``Mandatory Ballast Water Management for 
U.S. Waters'' (69 FR 44952). In doing so, the Great Lakes Ballast Water 
Management Program that became effective on May 10, 1993 (58 FR 18330), 
has remained unchanged, with the exception that all vessels equipped 
with ballast water tanks that enter and operate between ports in the 
Great Lakes must now submit their ballast water reporting forms to the 
National Ballast Information Clearinghouse as of August 13, 2004 (69 FR 
32864).
    On July 14, 2004, the Coast Guard received a petition for 
rulemaking requesting that we take specific regulatory action to 
prevent NIS introductions via NOBOB vessels. In response, on January 7, 
2005, the Coast Guard published a notice of public meeting; request for 
comments, entitled, ``Ballast Water Management for Vessels Entering the 
Great Lakes that Declare No Ballast Onboard'' (70 FR 1448) asking the 
public to assist us in developing ballast water management practices 
for NOBOBs that are effective and practicable. Additionally on May 9, 
2005, we held a public meeting where we further engaged the public on 
this issue. There were 35 people in attendance including 
representatives from: Congressional staff, federal

[[Page 51832]]

agencies, state agencies, international organizations, the shipping 
industry, maritime equipment manufacturers, non-governmental 
organizations, and concerned citizens. From the notice and the public 
meeting, we received 25 letters on the issue.

Background and Purpose

    Vessels carrying ballast water that enter the Great Lakes after 
operating outside the U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) are required 
to comply with the Great Lakes ballast water management requirements 
found in 33 CFR Part 151, Subpart C. Ballast water means any water and 
suspended matter taken on board a vessel to control or maintain, trim, 
draught, stability, or stresses of the vessel, regardless of how it is 
carried. NOBOB vessels are those vessels that have discharged ballast 
water in order to carry cargo, and as a result, have only unpumpable 
residual water and sediment remaining in tanks. A large number of 
vessels that call on the Great Lakes are NOBOBs fully loaded with cargo 
that consequently cannot conduct a full mid-ocean exchange enroute to 
the Great Lakes. However, NOBOBs have the potential to carry NIS in 
their empty tanks via residual ballast water and/or accumulated 
sediment. Once NOBOBs enter the Great Lakes, discharge some or all of 
their cargo and take on ballast water, this water mixes with the 
residual water and sediment, and if this mixed ballast water is 
subsequently discharged into the Great Lakes, may provide a mechanism 
for NIS to enter the Great Lakes. Therefore, the Coast Guard is issuing 
best management practices for vessels with ballast tanks with residual 
ballast water and sediment. While this policy targets vessels declaring 
NOBOB entering the Great Lakes, the recommended management practices 
are applicable to all vessels that enter the Great Lakes with empty 
ballast tanks that may be filled with ballast water and discharged 
within the Great Lakes.

Discussion of Comments

    From the notice and the public meeting, we received 25 letters on 
the issue. Most letters contained more than one comment. These included 
general comments as well as specific comments. We address the general 
comments first and then the specific comments.

General Comments

    We received 3 comments that support the Coast Guard as the lead 
agency to regulate ballast water discharge. One commenter further 
stated that the Coast Guard should develop a regulatory regime based on 
the long-term goal of eliminating NIS from NOBOBs.
    The Coast Guard agrees with these comments and preventing NIS 
introductions via NOBOBs for the interim is the intent of this notice. 
Once we establish the ballast water discharge (BWD) standard and use it 
to approve ballast water treatment methods, we will greatly reduce the 
number of NIS introductions via vessels in general, including NOBOBs.
    Five commenters stated that a federal approach to preventing 
invasions in the Great Lakes is needed whereas a State-by-State piece-
meal approach is not.
    The Coast Guard agrees that a federal approach is more amenable 
than a patch-work of state NOBOB management programs, where each state 
may have different ballast water management requirements that could 
confuse the shipping industry and not necessarily prevent NIS 
introductions. However, NISA does allow for states to develop their own 
NIS prevention measures.
    One commenter stated their opinion that misinformation is being 
sent to the public by ``one or two individuals or organizations'' 
regarding NIS invasions and NOBOBs.
    The Coast Guard notes this comment without endorsing its validity. 
We reviewed and analyzed the National Oceanic and Atmospheric 
Administration's Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory (NOAA/
GLERL) Report and Coast Guard monitoring data (Coast Guard unpublished 
data) and these analyses show that NOBOB vessels are carrying hundreds 
of tons of ballast water. Of the 103 foreign flag ships NOAA/GLERL 
boarded from December 2000 to December 2002, residual water surveyed 
ranged from negligible to 200 tons, and sediment accumulation ranged 
from negligible to 100 tons, with sixty percent of vessels estimated to 
have less than 10 tons. The Coast Guard inspected 36 vessels from May 
2005 to July 2005 and the average amount of residual water and sediment 
per vessel was estimated at only 41.4 cubic meters. Also, of the 36 
NOBOB vessels we sampled, approximately 45% of ballast water tanks were 
dry. Meaning these tanks were so dry that we could not get even a few 
drops of water needed to measure salinity.
    The NOAA/GLERL NOBOB Project Report noted the majority of the NIS 
introduction risk is associated with fresh and brackish residual waters 
due to compatibility of the organisms native to these environments and 
the Great Lakes. Of the 36 vessels we inspected, approximately 30% of 
the tanks contained residual ballast water with a salinity of 30 ppt or 
greater, and only 16% of the tanks with residual ballast water 
contained fresh or brackish residual water.
    The Coast Guard received 10 comments stating that we should require 
saltwater flushing for vessels carrying residual ballast water that 
enter the Great Lakes.
    The Coast Guard agrees with this comment and through this notice we 
strongly recommend that vessels carrying residual ballast water conduct 
saltwater flushing prior to entering the Great Lakes. A more detailed 
discussion of this practice takes place further in this notice in the 
Best Management Practices Section.
    Three commenters stated that the Coast Guard should set BWD 
standards for NOBOBs that are developed through regional collaboration 
and are based on federally defined ballast water management standards 
and consistent among all the Great Lakes states and provinces. 
Additionally, five commenters stated that the Coast Guard should 
implement the BWD standard for all vessels.
    As stated previously, the Coast Guard is already developing a BWD 
standard for all vessels, which includes NOBOB vessels. We expect the 
standard to be environmentally protective, scientifically sound, and 
enforceable so that when vessels use Coast Guard approved ballast water 
treatment systems, NIS introductions will be greatly reduced from all 
vessels generally, including NOBOBs. The standard will be used to 
approve ballast water treatment systems. However, NISA allows for 
ballast water treatment as an option along with ballast water exchange, 
and therefore, those vessels able to conduct an exchange prior to 
entering the Great Lakes will be able to do so even after the ballast 
water discharge standard is issued.
    Five commenters asked the Coast Guard to close the NOBOB loophole; 
that is, to change the applicability of the Great Lakes Ballast Water 
Management Program from vessels carrying ballast water to vessels 
equipped with ballast water tanks. One commenter stated that this 
change should occur for the interim, until a ballast water discharge 
standard is set.
    The Coast Guard disagrees with this comment. The Coast Guard 
believes that developing effective and practicable ballast water 
management strategies for NOBOBs is the best way to address the risk of 
NIS introductions by these vessels. Requiring NOBOB vessels to comply 
with current ballast water management regulations for vessels

[[Page 51833]]

entering the Great Lakes will not adequately prevent NIS introductions 
from NOBOBs since they cannot complete a mid-ocean ballast water 
exchange enroute to the Great Lakes. The Coast Guard believes that the 
separate, interim, management approach described in this notice is the 
best way to address the risk of NIS introductions from NOBOBs until the 
BWD standard is in place.
    Eight commenters said that the Coast Guard should implement ballast 
water management requirements for NOBOBs that provide them with the 
following options:
     Conduct open ocean ballast water exchange, if such 
practices are found to be safe, or can be made safe, for NOBOB vessels;
     Retain their residual ballast water; or
     Employ an alternative treatment.
    The Coast Guard finds implementing the suggested comments difficult 
at this time. NOBOBs cannot conduct mid-ocean exchange because they are 
carrying cargo and do not have sufficient freeboard to safely add sea 
water to their ballast tanks sufficient to complete an exchange. Adding 
ballast water to a vessel when it is fully loaded with cargo can be 
unsafe to the crew and to the vessel due to loss of stability and 
freeboard. The risk of NIS introduction from NOBOB vessels occurs when 
these vessels, while discharging cargo in a Great Lakes port, take on 
Great Lakes water as ballast water, and this ballast water mixes with 
residual ballast water and sediment and is subsequently discharged into 
the Great Lakes when the vessel loads cargo destined for ports outside 
the Great Lakes. Requiring the vessel to retain their ballast water or 
residual would impair the vessel's ability to carry cargo out of the 
Great Lakes. NOBOB vessels cannot employ an alternative treatment 
without approval by the Coast Guard. To date, there are no vessels that 
have requested approval of alternative treatment methods.
    Two commenters stated that residual ballast water should be 
exchanged whenever possible. One commenter further elaborated by saying 
residual water should be exchanged in a saline environment of low 
turbidity at every opportunity.
    The Coast Guard agrees with the commenters and through this notice 
of policy, we will be requesting vessels with residual ballast water to 
conduct a saltwater flush whenever possible, prior to entering the U.S. 
EEZ.
    One commenter stated that future ballast water management 
regulations from international or national efforts should equally apply 
to NOBOBs and to vessels carrying ballast water.
    The Coast Guard believes that once the ballast water discharge 
standard is in place, vessel owners will be able to treat ballast water 
prior to discharging it regardless of whether or not they carry ballast 
water or declare NOBOB.
    Seven commenters stated that for the remainder of the 2005 shipping 
season and/or beyond, NOBOB vessels should be required to retain their 
untreated ballast onboard or barred from entering the Great Lakes. 
Further two commenters stated that retention should take place when 
these NOBOB vessels take on Great Lakes water as ballast water.
    The Coast Guard disagrees with these comments. It is unreasonable 
to require all NOBOBs to retain untreated residual ballast water or 
residual ballast water that has been mixed with Great Lakes water or 
prevent vessels carrying cargo and no ballast from entering the Great 
Lakes. The suggested requirements would severely restrict the movement 
of cargo into and out of the Great Lakes. The Coast Guard believes a 
risk-based approach focused on NOBOB vessels with fresh and/or brackish 
residual waters is the best way forward.
    Three commenters said that the Coast Guard should require NOBOB 
vessels to have BWM plans.
    The Coast Guard agrees and since September 27, 2004, all vessels 
entering and operating in U.S. waters have been required to have a BWM 
plan onboard, including NOBOBs. This plan must show the specific 
vessel's ballast water management strategy as well as document those 
responsible for the plan's implementation have been trained and 
understand the plan.
    One commenter suggested that we should also look at other vectors 
for NIS introductions such as hull fouling, heat exchangers, and bilge 
water.
    The Coast Guard appreciates this comment and recognizes that there 
are other mechanisms for introductions of NIS via the vector of 
commercial shipping. The Coast Guard is currently focusing its 
regulatory efforts on preventing NIS introductions via ballast water 
and specifically from NOBOBs. Therefore, this comment is beyond the 
scope of the original request for comments.
    One commenter suggested that arrangements be made to involve and 
encourage Canadian participation in a Great Lakes NOBOB rulemaking.
    The Coast Guard notes this comment. Canada has recently announced 
their first proposed regulations for vessels entering the Great Lakes. 
Also, the U.S. and Canada are discussing cooperative approaches to 
ballast water management on the Great Lakes, within current regulatory 
authority and under the International Maritime Organization's (IMO) 
Ballast Water Management Convention of 2004.
    Three commenters said that the Coast Guard should require all 
oceangoing ships to clean and remove sediment.
    The Coast Guard already requires vessels equipped with ballast 
water tanks that operate in U.S. waters to regularly clean their 
ballast water tanks to remove sediment (33 CFR 151.2035(a)(3)).
    One commenter suggested that the Coast Guard should forward the 
NOAA/GLERL NOBOB Report to IMO.
    The Coast Guard notes this comment and is one of several co-
sponsors of the NOAA/GLERL report. We will present a summary of this 
report at a future IMO Marine Environmental Protection Committee 
meeting if we have the opportunity.
    One commenter said that the Coast Guard should use a risk-based 
approach for NOBOBs.
    The Coast Guard agrees with this comment. The Best Management 
Practices discussed below do use a risk-based approach and are targeted 
at eliminating the residual water with the highest risk of introducing 
NIS from fresh and brackish water ecosystems into the Great Lakes.
    One commenter asked the Coast Guard to develop a system to track 
and identify ships that pose the greatest risk.
    The Coast Guard disagrees with this comment. We know from the work 
performed by NOAA/GLERL, the highest risk NOBOB tanks carry fresh or 
brackish residual water. Because of the ways cargo and ballast water 
are managed on ships, the risk of NIS introduction can vary 
significantly across individual tanks in a single ship. In addition, 
the risk can be dramatically reduced through the regular use of the 
Best Management Practices described further in this notice. This will 
result in a reduction of high-risk NIS introductions through the 
elimination of fresh and brackish residual ballast water.
    Two commenters stated that the Coast Guard should require cargo be 
transferred at the entrance of the Great Lakes. Further, one commenter 
said we should review the option of shutting down the Saint Lawrence 
Seaway until NOBOB management strategies are in place.
    The Coast Guard disagrees with this comment. We do not have the 
authority under NISA to require vessels to lighten their load, to 
transfer their cargo to other modes at the entrance of the Great

[[Page 51834]]

Lakes, or shutdown the St. Lawrence Seaway. Also, the suggested 
requirements would severely restrict the movement of cargo into and out 
of the Great Lakes.
    One commenter suggested that the Coast Guard require ships to have 
tamper-proof meters that document volumes, salinity, time and Global 
Positioning System (GPS) locations of ballast water taken on and 
discharged all over the world and submit this data to the Coast Guard 
prior to entry into U.S. waters and monthly while in U.S. waters.
    The Coast Guard disagrees with this comment. The Coast Guard 
already requires ships that enter and/or operate in U.S. waters to 
submit their ballast water reporting forms. These reports already 
provide us with the locations (latitude and longitude) of where ballast 
water was taken on and discharged as well as the dates that these 
activities took place. Coast Guard compliance evaluation activities 
involve validating the information provided on these forms with 
information in vessel logs without the need for additional specialized 
equipment to be installed on the vessel.
    Two commenters asked the Coast Guard to develop education and 
outreach initiatives for the shipping industry to assist the industry 
with complying with BWM regulations.
    The Coast Guard agrees and will provide additional guidance and 
training to the shipping industry so they can be better equipped to 
comply with our BWM regulations and policies.

Comments Regarding Research and Treatment

    Five commenters stated that the Coast Guard should work with vessel 
owners, operators and other maritime industry stakeholders and provide 
incentives to continue research and development on ballast water 
management technologies, notably NOBOB vessels. Furthermore, one 
commenter stated we should review and analyze technologies.
    The Coast Guard already provides incentives to ship owners to 
further the development of ballast water treatment technologies through 
the Shipboard Technology Evaluation Program (STEP). This program was 
established in January 2004, through a Navigation and Inspection 
Circular (NVIC 01-04), and announced in a Notice of Availability 
published in the Federal Register on January 7, 2004 (69 FR 1082). 
Information on STEP can be found at: http://www.uscg.mil/hq/g-m/mso/
step.htm. The Coast Guard also has ongoing efforts to review the 
development of technologies.
    One commenter recommended the use of a ``closed-loop'' ballast 
water treatment process of ultraviolet radiation and filtration to 
address NIS introductions via NOBOBs.
    The Coast Guard appreciates this comment and suggests the commenter 
work with a ship owner to submit an application to STEP so that we may 
further determine the efficacy and operational capability of this 
treatment system.
    Two commenters stated that the Coast Guard should analyze the use 
of the following options to manage NOBOBs: ferrate, filtration, UV, 
ozonation, washdown-pumpout with scavenger pumps w/caustic soda, and/or 
chemical biocides.
    The Coast Guard appreciates this comment and is tracking the 
development of these options; however, the Coast Guard will not require 
specific treatment options at this time. Vessels fitted with these 
treatment methods must apply to the Coast Guard for their approval for 
use in meeting the ballast water management regulations. Until a BWD 
standard is promulgated, ballast water management systems on vessels 
would be approved on a vessel-by-vessel basis. In addition, vessels 
using treatment systems must comply with all state water quality 
discharge limits for chemicals.
    Seven commenters said that the Coast Guard's long-term goal should 
be zero discharge of living organisms from vessels entering the Great 
Lakes. One commenter further stated this could be achieved by such 
management options as filtration, ultraviolet radiation, and/or 
chemical biocides.
    The Coast Guard disagrees that the long-term goal should be zero 
discharge of living organisms in the Great Lakes. According to our 
current authority under NISA, the long term goal is to prevent NIS 
introductions into the waters of the U.S. from ballast water, and this 
goal may be achieved without a zero discharge requirement. Once the BWD 
standard is developed, we will approve those technologies that meet the 
standard in an effort to prevent the introduction of NIS into the Great 
Lakes.
    Two commenters suggested that the Coast Guard consider shore-side 
treatment options especially for a centralized facility in the Saint 
Lawrence Seaway, which seem reasonable and are cost effective.
    Although the Coast Guard appreciates this comment, the Coast Guard 
is not involved in the regulatory or approval process for land-based 
ballast water treatment facilities. Anyone wishing to establish a 
ballast water reception facility that would discharge to waters of the 
United States would need to obtain a National Pollutant Discharge 
Elimination System (NPDES) permit under the Clean Water Act. In 
addition, all appropriate Federal, State, and local permits would need 
to be obtained.
    One commenter stated that techniques to enhance flow-through or 
empty-refill exchange of NOBOBs should be the outcome of the Coast 
Guard technical workshop that was held immediately after the NOBOB 
public meeting.
    The Coast Guard agrees that techniques to enhance flow-through and 
empty-refill exchange for NOBOBs should be evaluated. Ballast water 
exchange and other management options for NOBOBs were discussed during 
the technical workshop.
    One commenter said that in cases where ballast water must be 
discharged into the Great Lakes, ships should use best available 
treatment technologies to be installed by 2006 in combination with 
mandatory ballast water management practices.
    The Coast Guard notes this comment. Prior to Coast Guard approval, 
alternative treatment technologies must be reviewed to determine the 
efficacy and operational capabilities of the treatment systems, as well 
as the need to address the operational requirements of placing systems 
onboard ships. Alternative ballast water management practices for 
vessels must be approved by the Coast Guard, which is also time-
intensive.

Comments Regarding Enforcement and Compliance

    One commenter stated that the Coast Guard should conduct random 
inspections with fines of $5 million and seizure of each vessel that 
was not in compliance.
    The Coast Guard disagrees with this comment. Every vessel entering 
the Great Lakes is subject to an inspection upon entering the Saint 
Lawrence Seaway. We conduct ballast water examinations for vessels 
carrying ballast water, and examinations for vessels that are NOBOBs. 
The Coast Guard verifies that the information reported is accurate, and 
sampling is carried out to determine compliance. If vessels are not in 
compliance with the ballast water exchange requirements, vessels are 
required to retain their ballast onboard for their entire voyage in the 
Great Lakes or they must go out 200 nautical miles from land and to 
water 2000 meters in depth to conduct ballast water exchange. Dollar 
value limits on civil penalties are provided by NISA and adjusted for 
inflation.
    Three commenters recommended that the Coast Guard require strict

[[Page 51835]]

compliance with the current Great Lakes Ballast Water Management 
regulations for NOBOBs, and require retention or the use of an 
effective treatment system prior to discharging ballast water.
    Once the Coast Guard establishes a BWD standard, we will be able to 
approve effective ballast water treatment systems to be used prior to 
discharge for those vessels unable to conduct ballast water exchange, 
including NOBOB vessels. Until then, the Coast Guard believes 
implementation of the best management practices is the better option 
for NOBOB vessels.
    Eight commenters stated that the Coast Guard should have an 
enforcement and compliance program in place for NOBOBs. One commenter 
further stated that this program should be as stringent as those for 
ballasted vessels, including restriction from entering the Great Lakes.
    The Coast Guard disagrees with this comment. As the NOBOB policy 
will ask vessels to conduct saltwater flushing and other practices to 
maintain high salinity residual waters in ballast tanks, we cannot 
enforce vessel compliance with a voluntary program. However, we will be 
conducting a monitoring program to determine the efficacy of this 
practice in reducing fresh and brackish residual water carried by NOBOB 
vessels into the Great Lakes.

Best Management Practices for Vessels Declaring No Ballast Onboard That 
Enter the Great Lakes

    The masters, owners, operators, or persons-in-charge of vessels 
equipped with ballast water tanks and voyage plans including transits 
to ports or places in the Great Lakes (including the Hudson River, 
North of the George Washington Bridge), should do the following:
     Conduct mid-ocean ballast water exchange during ballast-
laden voyages in an area 200 nautical miles from any shore and in water 
2000 meters deep whenever possible, prior to entering the U.S. EEZ.
     For vessels unable to conduct mid-ocean ballast water 
exchange, conduct saltwater flushing of their empty ballast water tanks 
in an area 200 nautical miles from any shore, whenever possible. For 
the purposes of this policy, saltwater flushing is defined as the 
addition of mid-ocean water to empty ballast water tanks; the mixing of 
the flush water with residual water and sediment through the motion of 
the vessel; and the discharge of the mixed water, such that the 
resultant residual water remaining in the tank has as high a salinity 
as possible, and preferably is greater than 30 parts per thousand 
(ppt). The vessel should take on as much mid-ocean water into each tank 
as is safe (for the vessel and crew) in order to conduct saltwater 
flushing. The master of the vessel is responsible for ensuring the 
safety of the vessel, crew, and passengers.
    The masters, owners, operators, or persons-in-charge of vessels 
equipped with ballast water tanks, declaring NOBOB and bound for ports 
or places in the Great Lakes (including the Hudson River, North of the 
George Washington Bridge) should take particular care to conduct 
saltwater flushing on the transit to the Great Lakes so as to eliminate 
fresh and or brackish water residuals in ballast tanks.
    NOBOB vessels that conduct these best management practices should 
incorporate them into their required ballast water management plan 
onboard their vessels. The requirements for ballast water management 
plans are found in 33 CFR 151.2035(a)(7). Also, NOBOB vessels are 
reminded that there are required ballast water management practices for 
vessels equipped with ballast water tanks that operate in U.S. waters, 
regarding avoiding ballasting operations in certain situations, 
sediment removal, and the cleaning of ballast tanks. These requirements 
are found in 33 CFR 151.2035(a).

Monitoring Program

    The Coast Guard will monitor NOBOB vessels engaging in the best 
management practices during normal pre-arrival processing (or when 
updated ballast water reporting forms are obtained) and note the 
results in the U.S. Coast Guard's Marine Safety Detachment Massena's 
Vessel Matrix. NOBOB vessels that conducted mid-ocean exchange the last 
time the tanks contained ballast water should indicate that they have 
done so when submitting their Ballast Water Reporting Form (OMB Control 
No. 1625-0069) by filling out the appropriate information in Section 4. 
Ballast Water Management and in Section 5. Ballast Water History.
    NOBOB vessels that conduct saltwater flushing should indicate that 
they have done so in the Ballast Water Reporting Form in Section 4. 
Ballast Water Management, by checking off the ``Underwent Alternative 
Management'' box and indicating that the vessel underwent saltwater 
flushing in the ``specify alternative method'' line. NOBOB vessels that 
conducted saltwater flushing should also fill out Section 5. Ballast 
Water History.
    NOBOB vessels that use a U.S. Coast Guard approved alternative 
method (treatment) to ballast water exchange, should indicate they have 
done so in the Ballast Water Reporting Form in Section 4. Ballast Water 
Management, by checking off the ``Underwent Alternative Management'' 
box and indicating that the vessel underwent the specific alternative 
method in the ``specify alternative method'' line. NOBOB vessels that 
use a U.S. Coast Guard approved alternative method should also fill out 
Section 5. Ballast Water History.
    For more information and examples on how to correctly fill out a 
ballast water reporting form, please visit the following Web site at: 
http://invasions.si.edu/nbic/instructions.html.
    The Coast Guard will take samples of residual water from the 
ballast tanks of NOBOB vessels in order to determine the efficacy of 
this program. If we determine that this program is not effective in 
preventing the introduction of NIS into the Great Lakes, the Coast 
Guard may consider other alternatives.

Environment

    In accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 
(Section 102(2)(c)), as implemented by the Council of Environment 
Quality regulations (40 CFR parts 1500-1508) and Coast Guard Policy for 
Considering Environmental Impacts (COMDTINST M16475.1D), the Coast 
Guard has prepared a draft Environmental Assessment (EA) to consider 
the environmental impacts of implementing the best management practices 
for NOBOB vessels. The draft EA identifies and examines those 
reasonable alternatives needed to effectively reduce NIS introductions 
into the Great Lakes via NOBOB vessels. The draft EA analyzed the no 
action alternative and one action alternative that could fulfill the 
purpose and need of establishing best management practices for NOBOB 
vessels to reduce NIS introductions into the Great Lakes. Specifically, 
the draft EA considered potential effects to the natural and human 
environments by incorporating environmental analyses previously 
conducted for establishing ballast water management regulations for 
U.S. waters. These analyses are available in the docket. Therefore, we 
are requesting your comments on environmental concerns you may have 
related to the draft EA. This includes methodologies for use in the 
draft EA or possible sources of data or information not included in the 
draft EA. Your comments will be considered in preparing a Finding of No 
Significant Impact (FONSI) and final PEA.


[[Page 51836]]


    Dated: August 19, 2005.
T.H. Gilmour,
Rear Admiral, U.S. Coast Guard, Assistant Commandant for Marine Safety, 
Security and Environmental Protection.
[FR Doc. 05-17426 Filed 8-29-05; 12:21 pm]
BILLING CODE 4910-15-P