For the fourth time, California is proposing—and coatings makers are fighting—performance standards that would establish a ranking system to determine if a ship’s hull is “clean” enough to enter state waters.
The American Coatings Association’s Anti-Fouling Work Group submitted its latest round of objections Tuesday (June 26), in response to the California State Lands Commission’s fourth draft of the standards.
|Coating makers said the new standards would be evaluated too subjectively and contained cleaning requirements that could actually degrade coating performance.|
ACA calls the plan “unworkable and scientifically unsupportable.”
The changes involve amendments the commission is proposing to Article 4.8 Biofouling Management Regulations for Vessels Operating in California Waters.
The standards would apply to new vessels delivered on or after Jan. 1, 2014, and to existing vessels after completion of their first out-of-water maintenance on or after that date.
The Lands Commission is operating under a statutory directive from the State Legislature to establish regulations “governing the management of hull fouling on vessels arriving at a California port or place.”
The mandate requires that the fouling plan “be based on the best available technology economically achievable”—language similar to that used in another unpopular regulation that coating makers have been unable to stop.
The fouling regulations were to have been established by January 2012. ACA first submitted comments on the draft in August 2011 and has been actively involved in the rulemaking process, testifying before the commission at public hearings in November 2011 and January 2012.
“Despite four iterations of proposed amendments and consistent and repeated comments by ACA and other industry stakeholders, the CSLC staff remains tied to an unworkable and scientifically unsupportable idea of numeric performance standards,” ACA said in a release.
The proposed standards would apply to all vessels carrying or capable of carrying ballast water operating in the water of California. Among the draft requirements:
• Niche areas of a vessel (areas more susceptible to biofouling, such as sea-chests and sea-chest gratings, bow and stern thrusters, fin stabilizers, propellers and propeller shafts, rudders, and out-of-water block marks) must not be “significantly in excess” of 5 percent macrofouling. (Macrofouling is defined as large, distinct multicellular organisms visible to the human eye such as barnacles, tubeworms, or fronds of algae.)
• All other wetted portions of the hull must not be “significantly in excess” of 1 percent macrofouling.
ACA’s Working Group and others in the industry have urged the commission to delete the performance standards from the proposal and confine its provisions to those in the IMO Guidelines for Control and Management of Ships’ Biofouling to Minimize the Transfer of Invasive Aquatic Species.
In response, the commission included an alternative “presumed compliance” provision in the amendments. That means that compliance with the regulation will be presumed by demonstrating that the ship complies with various biofouling management plan elements.
ACA called the presumed compliance provision “a good start towards a workable and appropriate means of biofouling management,” but said it did not make the performance standards more acceptable.
“There remains no evidence in the docket that the percentage cover proscribed by the performance standards is derived from an analysis that associates a given level of risk of invasion with the specific fouling percentage cover contained in the performance standards,” ACA’s comments said.
“The assessment of a hull will rely on the subjective judgment of divers and enforcement officials. As such, an accurate assessment and uniform enforcement will be impractical and will add a significant burden of uncertainty to ship-operators entering California waters.”
ACA also repeated its concern that the mandatory cleaning schedules (every 6–12 months) could prematurely deplete the biocide in antifouling coatings and degrade the coatings’ performance and lifespan.
“Mandatory cleaning cycles could create the perverse effect of actually increasing the chance of fouling and the spread of invasive species,” ACA said.