US EPA Frames Policy to Deter Ship Sulphur Fuel Standards Violations
US EPA has announced on January 15th, 2015 their policy for assessing civil penalties for violations of the fuel sulfur standards applicable to ships operating in the North American and U.S. Caribbean Sea Emissions Control Areas (ECAs).
EPA may assess a civil penalty of $25,000 per violation, per day. Civil penalties must be calculated “taking into account the nature, circumstances, extent, and gravity of the prohibited acts committed and with respect to the violator, the degree of culpability, any history of prior offenses, ability to pay, and other matters as justice may require”
The purpose of this Penalty Policy is to deter potential violators, ensure that the EPA assesses fair and equitable civil penalties and expedite the resolution of claims arising from certain categories of noncompliance. The Penalty Policy contains two components. First, it describes how to achieve the goal of deterrence through a penalty that removes the economic benefit of noncompliance, and reflects the gravity of the violation. Second, it discusses adjustment factors applied to obtain a fair and equitable penalty.
This Penalty Policy addresses violations of the fuel sulfur standard and violation of other requirements of MARPOL Annex VI include:
- The requirement to maintain a written procedure showing how the fuel oil change?over is to be done and a log recording change?over details.
- To receive and maintain bunker delivery notes for a period of three years after the fuel oil has been delivered onboard.
- Ships are required to maintain a representative sample of the fuel oil delivered to the ship for a period of twelve months from the time of delivery.
Each failure, on each day it occurred, is a separate violation. The gravity component for record keeping violations is $2,500 to $15,000 per violation, per day, depending on egregiousness.
EPA will make adjustments to the preliminary deterrence amount based on aspects such as degree of willfulness or negligence, history of noncompliance, litigation risks, and other unique factors, and ability to pay.
The EPA will generally not request penalties that are clearly beyond the means of the violator unless the violations are egregious or the violator refuses to comply in a timely basis.