McAllister Yard, NYC.

McAllister Yard, NYC.
McAllister Yard, NYC. Courtesy, Capt. Paul Brown

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Federal Register Notice Concerning the Carriage of Shale Gas Extraction Waste Water in Bulk via Barge


Once more, many thanks to CAPT Dennis Bryant for mentioning the Coast Guard Oct. 30 Federal Register fracking water policy notice in his great resource, Bryant’s Maritime Blog, http://brymar-consulting.com/.

From the Federal Register, vol 78, issue 210:
“The Coast Guard announces the availability of a proposed policy letter concerning the carriage of shale gas extraction waste water in bulk via barge, and invites public comment. The policy letter specifies the conditions under which a barge owner may request and be granted a Certificate of Inspection endorsement or letter allowing the barge to transport shale gas extraction waste water in bulk. The policy letter also defines the information the Coast Guard may require the barge owner to provide and specifies the additional requirements the Coast Guard is considering imposing on such barges. Upon reviewing comments received on this proposed policy letter, Coast Guard will issue the final policy letter and specify its effective date.

DATES: Comments and related material must either be submitted to our online docket via http://www.regulations.gov on or before November 29, 2013 or reach the Docket Management Facility by that date.”

You may submit comments identified by docket number USCG– 2013–0915 using any one of the methods identified in the Federal Register notice.

From the policy letter, which will be posted on Regulations.gov but for now can be found at http://www.uscg.mil/hq/cg5/cg521/:

“The purpose of this policy letter is: (a) to specify the conditions under which a barge owner may request and be granted a Certificate of Inspection endorsement or letter, under 46 CFR 153.900(d), allowing the barge to transport shale gas extraction waste water (SGEWW) in bulk as Conditionally Permitted SGEWW; (b) to define the information the Coast Guard may require the barge owner to provide pursuant to 46 CFR 153.900(d)(1)(ii); and (c) to specify the additional requirements the Coast Guard imposes on such barges pursuant to 46 CFR 153.900(d)(2)(iii). A barge owner who has not been granted an endorsement or letter under 46 CFR 153.900(d), or who has not provided the information defined by this policy letter, or who has not complied with the additional requirements this policy letter describes, is prohibited from transporting SGEWW in bulk on that barge.”

"Endorsement of Certificate of Inspection. Pursuant to 46 CFR 153.900(d)(1)(i), a barge owner may request endorsement of a barge’s Certificate of Inspection, or a letter, allowing the barge to transport Conditionally Permitted SGEWW in bulk. Requests may be made by contacting the U.S. Coast Guard Commandant (CG-ENG-5) at (202) 372-1412 or by emailing HazmatStandards@uscg.mil. The Coast Guard, at its discretion, may provide the endorsement or letter, on condition that the barge owner conduct and document the analyses and surveys, and take the venting measures, described in this paragraph 8. Carriage requirements for SGEWW are given in Enclosure (4), and a sample endorsement is included in Enclosure (5) to this policy letter."

"Analyses. As an “additional requirement” that the Coast Guard may impose, per 46 CFR 153.900(d)(2)(iii), on the endorsement or letter described in paragraph 8.b, prior to carrying SGEWW on board the barge, the barge owner must have each consignment load of SGEWW chemically analyzed in accordance with Enclosure (1) to this policy letter. The barge owner must keep records showing the results of each analysis for two years and make those records available to the Coast Guard upon request. These records are subject to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). The identity of proprietary chemicals may be withheld from public release pursuant to the FOIA and applicable Coast Guard policy." (Details of analysis including the radioactivity concentration limit and the consignment activity limit are given in Enc. 1).

"Surveys. As an “additional requirement” that the Coast Guard may impose, per 46 CFR 153.900(d)(2)(iii), on the endorsement or letter described in paragraph 8.b, the barge owner must have the barge surveyed in accordance with Enclosure (1) to this policy letter, whenever the barge changes from carrying Conditionally Permitted SGEWW to carrying another cargo, and prior to the entry of any personnel, Coast Guard or otherwise, into the barge. The barge owner must keep records showing the results of each survey for two years and make those records available to the Coast Guard upon request."

"Venting. Carriage of Conditionally Permitted SGEWW may over time lead to the accumulation of radon, a daughter radionuclide of both Ra-226 and Ra-228, in the tank head space. Daily temperature changes can cause variations in tank pressure, and open venting provides pressure relief, preventing over- or under-pressurization of the tanks. Closed or restricted venting would trap the radon in the head space of the tank. Therefore, as a “design and equipment” requirement under 46 CFR 153.900(d)(2)(ii) and as an “additional requirement” under 46 CFR 153.900(d)(2)(iii), the barge owner must ensure that each barge to which the endorsement or letter described in paragraph 8.b is issued has open venting and must ensure that personnel avoid areas where gas from the tanks may escape, especially during loading and offloading. The owner may meet these requirements by ensuring that operational policy instructs personnel to avoid the tank vents and that personnel comply with that instruction."

Enclosure 1 of the policy discusses details of the analysis for hazardous materials including radioisotopes;  criteria to determine if SGEWW can be carried as conditionally permitted SGEWW, including radioactivity formulas, and safety conditions and procedures to protect personnel.

Enclosure 2 of the policy is a State of Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection Form 26R , Chemical Analysis of Residual Waste, Annual Report by the Generator.

Enclosure 3 are Sample Calculations for Maximum Allowed Volume.  These are equations used to find  the total radioactivity limit allowed to be transported in one barge.  Editorial comment – both shippers and inspectors will need to go back to school in order to understand this part of the policy document.

Enclosure 4 talks about Interim Minimum Requirements for the Carriage on Unmanned Barges, 46 CFR 153.  The policy letter states that has been assigned to Group 43 (Miscellaneous Water Solutions) as listed in 46 CFR Part 150. For those of us who don’t work with Title 46 a lot, Part 150 is found in Subchapter O.

Enclosure 5 is a sample Certificate of Inspection Endorsement for Carriage of Shale Gas Extraction Waste Water (SGEWW).

Questions or concerns regarding this policy may be directed to Commandant (CG-ENG-5) at (202) 372-1412 or emailed to HazmatStandards@uscg.mil.

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The policy letter does not address any security concerns. Absent any word from the Coast Guard to the contrary, the towboat and barge transporting SGEWW appears to me to be a 104 vessel under 33 CFR 104.105(a)(8). A terminal accepting the vessel would become regulated under 33 CFR 105.