New Bill on Ship-to-Ship Bunkering Receives First Reading in State of Maine

Thursday March 9, 2017

A bill proposed by Maine State Senator Ben Chipman, which is intended to bring regulatory oversight to ship-to-ship bunkering operations, received its first reading in the State of Maine Legislature this week, local media reports.

As Ship & Bunker has reported, while Maine state law currently requires tankers unloading oil use a boom, and many dock operators also require refuelling vessels to utilise spill prevention equipment, the waters of Casco Bay - overseen by the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) and Maine Department of Environmental Protection (MDEP) - are noted to have no such requirement.

The proposed bill, an Act To Prevent Oil Spills in Casco Bay, would require that all ship-to-ship bunkering operations utilise booms and inform the USCG before they begin a fuel transfer.

Following the bill's first reading this week, it has now been referred to the legislature's Committee on Environment and Natural Resources for review and revision.

Meanwhile, a number of waterfront advocates believe the bill is unlikely to adequately address the problem it is intended to solve, pointing to situations where booms are not required when "personnel safety" and weather makes the practice difficult or dangerous.

Ivy Frignoca, Casco Baykeeper, suggests the bill should be revised in cooperation with Maine Department of Environmental Protection.

Frignoca further notes that bunkering is rare off Portland as fewer tankers are coming to be bunkered from Portland-Montreal Pipe Line.

In July, Ship & Bunker reported that Maine's regulatory officials had said the low probability of a spill was outweighed by the high financial and time costs associated with setting up a boom around an anchored ship.