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National Guidance: Best Management Practices for Preparing Vessels Intended to Create Artificial Reefs

The Ex-USS Spiegel Grove en route to artificial reef sink site; the scuttling of Navy Dive Tender YDT-14 on April 1, 2000, SE of Pensacola Pass, Escambia County, Florida; the Ex-USS Spiegel Grove resting at its artificial reef site.EPA announced the notice of availability of the National Guidance: Best Management Practices for Preparing Vessels Intended to Create Artificial Reefs (PDF) (77 pp, 1.83 MB, About PDF) in the Federal Register on May, 12, 2006. This final guidance document addresses the public comments received on the Draft National Guidance: Best Management Practices for Preparing Vessels Intended to Create Artificial Reefs (69 FR 46141), as well as lessons learned from the Navy's ex-USS Oriskany vessel-to-reef project. A response to comments document was generated when addressing the public comments that were submitted on the draft guidance document.

The first of its kind, this guidance offers a consistent, national approach for preparing obsolete and decommissioned military and commercial vessels for use as artificial reefs.

This guidance satisfies the mandate of Section 3516 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2004, which amends existing law to require that the Maritime Administration (MARAD) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) jointly develop guidance recommending environmental best management practices (BMP's) to be used in the preparation of vessels for use as artificial reefs.

The BMP guidance identifies materials of concern that may be present aboard vessels, identifies where these materials may be found, and describes their potential adverse impacts if released into the marine environment. For each material or category of material of concern identified, this document provides a narrative clean-up performance goal and information on methods for addressing those goals.

A number of existing documents proved useful in the development of the BMPs. For example, EPA's "A Guide for Ship Scrappers, Summer 2000" provided information as to where materials of concern may be found onboard a vessel. Environment Canada's documents ("Cleanup Guidelines for Ocean Disposal of Ocean Vessels" and "Cleanup Standards for Ocean Disposal of Vessels" both prepared by the Environmental Protection Branch, Pacific and Yukon Region, February 1998) provided EPA with useful language and information on how to address certain materials of concern (e.g., fuel and oil, asbestos) when preparing a vessel. Please look to the BMPs' "References" page for a complete listing of the documents used in the development of the final guidance.

EPA believes that achieving the clean-up performance goals provided in this document, if complemented with strategic reef site selection, will maximize the opportunity for these vessels to benefit the environment as artificial reefs.

The top photo: The Ex-USS Spiegel Grove en route to artificial reef sink site.
Photo credit: Andy Newman, Florida Keys News Bureau

The middle photo: The scuttling of Navy Dive Tender YDT-14 on April 1, 2000, approximately 18 miles SE of Pensacola Pass, Escambia County, Florida.
Photo credit: Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Division of Marine Fisheries Management, Artificial Reef Program

Bottom photo: Ex-USS Spiegel Grove resting at its artificial reef site.
Photo credit: Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Division of Fisheries Management, Artificial Reef Program




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