As the weather warms up off the coast of California, tankers in storage may be forced to vent expanding cargo tanks and risk heavy fines. Wetting the deck might mitigate the size of the fines, reports local law firm
California-based law firm Peacock Piper Tong + Voss (Peacock Piper) has issued an alert that the previously little used South Coast Air Quality Management District (AQMD) Rule 1142 is now being actively enforced. The AQMD regulates air quality in the southern California area including Los Angeles, Orange County, Riverside and San Bernardino counties.
The 1994 issued Rule 1142 states, “all hatches, pressure relief valves, connections, gauging ports and vents, and other equipment associated with a loading, lightering, ballasting, or housekeeping event shall be maintained free of liquid or gaseous leaks.” It had been thought that due to the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic, there would be a relaxation of this rule.
The ambient air temperature off the coast of Southern California has increased as the summer progresses and coincides with an increase in the number of tankers in storage off the coast.
As the ambient air increases, the cargo tanks are being pressurised by cargo giving off gas. The P/V valves release the gas to the atmosphere. If a Southern California resident complains of the odour, the AQMD will investigate the compliant. The AQMD uses infrared video to film from the complainant’s residence and identify the source of the leak.
According to Peacock Piper, the next step is for AQMD inspectors to walk the deck of the tanker and locate the source of the emissions using forward looking infrared radar (FLIR). A FLIR detected leak of 1,000 ppm is considered a violation.
The tanker will be issued with a notice of violation (NOV). Peacock Piper point out that the NOV is not a penalty notice. Should AQMD decide to pursue a penalty, this will be through civil enforcement proceedings. The civil penalty is up to US$1M per violation.
Peacock Piper notes that fines can be mitigated if steps are taken by the tanker to reduce emissions. Running seawater over the deck can cool cargo tanks. The action should be logged and could be used as evidence of attempts to reduce emissions.
Peacock Piper is listed as the local correspondent for the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach for North of England, Gard, the UK Club, Japan P&I, the Swedish Club, the West of England, the American Club, and the Standard Club.
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