American Club alert warns of California ban on vessel sewage discharge

The American P&I Club has issued an alert warning members that the State of California has introduced a No Discharge Zone (NDZ) that prohibits vessel sewage discharge in all California marine waters. The U.S. Coast Guard will enforce compliance.

The restriction, which took effect on March 28, applies to large passenger vessels of 300 gt and over which have berths or overnight accommodations for passengers, and large oceangoing vessels of 300 gt and over, including private, commercial, government or military vessels equipped with a holding tank with remaining capacity or containing sewage generated prior to entering the state's waters.

In response to an application from California, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) established the regulation under the U.S. Clean Water Act Section 312 (f) (4) (A) authorities. EPA estimates the rule will prohibit the discharge of over 22 million of the 25 million gallons of treated sewage that large vessels could otherwise legally discharge into the state's waters each year.

Even treated sewage can contain pathogens, nutrients and other contaminants which affect human and environmental health, and economic productivity.

Other California NDZs for 10 bays and marinas remain in effect for all vessels.

April 2, 2012