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January 5, 2009

Salvors welcome new vessel response plan requirements

The American Salvage Association (ASA) has welcomed the December 31, 2008 publication in the Federal Register of the Coast Guard Final Rule on Salvage and Marine Firefighting Requirements; Vessel Response Plans for Oil.

The final rule revises the vessel response plan salvage and marine firefighting requirements for tank vessels carrying oil. These revisions clarify the salvage and marine firefighting services that must be identified in vessel response plans and set new response time requirements for each of the required salvage and marine firefighting services. The changes ensure that the appropriate salvage and marine firefighting resources are identified and available for responding to incidents up to and including the worst case discharge scenario.

The long-awaited regulations are expected to go into effect within 30 days of their publication and will provide for the customary 18-month period for compliance.

ASA says that the regulations, called for in the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 after the Exxon Valdez casualty, are more important now than ever before as the nation faces the threat of terrorist incidents in the marine transport sector, be they in ports, terminals or aboard ships as well as the recent impacts on the marine community resulting from severe weather. While government has been working to prevent terrorist incidents from occurring, an efficient, professional, specialized response capability for marine disasters is required, says ASA. Professional marine salvors often serve as first responders at the time of marine incidents, working quickly to minimize damage and expedite recovery.

ASA expressed its gratitude for the hard work in seeing these regulations come to fruition of ASA past presidents J. Arnold Witte, Richard Fairbanks, George Wittich and John A. Witte; Jr., along with the actions of Admiral Thad Allen and RADM Brian Salerno, USCG. "We are so pleased with the announcement of the promulgation of the salvage and firefighting regulations," said John A Witte, Jr., ASA President. "These regulations will go a long way toward ensuring that the nation is ready and has the capability to respond to accidental or terrorist events in the marine sector that require a professional salvage response."


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