North American ECA – Overflights Test Plume Emissions

June 2013

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In recent weeks the U.S. Environment Protection Agency (EPA) has been conducting overflights to test plume emissions from commercial cargo vessels in the upper Chesapeake Bay. These will continue periodically throughout the year. The EPA planes fly within 500 feet of the vessel while collecting emissions from the plumes.

With effect from August 2012 ocean-going vessels have been required to use fuel oil with a maximum sulphur content of 10,000 ppm in their main propulsion engine within the North American Emission Control Area (ECA), essentially 200 nautical miles off the coast of the U.S. and Canada. (This ECA was one of several established internationally by the provisions of MARPOL Annex VI.)

From 1 January 2015 the maximum sulphur content for fuel oil used within the ECA reduces to 1,000 ppm.

The U.S. Environment Protection Agency and Coast Guard have authority to enforce the requirements of the ECA under the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships.

(Source: Maritime Safety & Security Bulletin 12-13 of 18 April 2013 issued by U.S. Coast Guard Sector Baltimore.)

It is understood that these overflights may be extended to other areas and will be used by the EPA and Coast Guard as part of their enforcement program. Vessel owners and operators are reminded of the importance of ensuring compliance with the various requirements of the ECA fuel standard regime.

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