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Water: Habitat Protection

Frequent Questions

May 2006   

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

Q: Why was this guidance developed?
A:
This guidance is required by section 3516 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2004, which amends existing law to require that MARAD and EPA jointly develop guidance recommending environmental best management practices (BMPs) to be used in the preparation of vessels for use as artificial reefs. This guidance also responds to MARAD's request that EPA assist in identifying potential management options for its decommissioned vessel fleet. The best management practices presented in this document are to serve as national guidance for the preparation of obsolete and decommissioned military and commercial vessels for use as artificial reefs.

Q: Must all vessel-to-reef projects comply with this guidance?
A:
This document presents recommended best management practices that serve as national guidance for the preparation of obsolete and decommissioned military and commercial vessels for use as artificial reefs. It does not impose binding requirements on federal agencies, states, other regulatory or resource management authorities, or any other entity. However, under 10 U.S.C. 7306b(c), the Secretary of the Navy must ensure that the preparation of a vessel (that is stricken from the Naval Vessel Register) for use as an artificial reef is conducted in accordance with the BMPs.

Q: If a vessel intended to create an artificial reef is cleaned to the standards provided in the guidance, is the vessel considered environmentally acceptable?
A:
The purpose of creating an artificial reef is to benefit the environment. This guidance document describes guidelines for the preparation of vessels in a manner that will help ensure that the marine environment will benefit from their use as artificial reefs. We believe that achieving the clean-up performance goals presented in this guidance document, if complemented with strategic reef site selection, will maximize the environmental benefits of using these vessels as artificial reefs. Consideration should also be given to the statutory requirements and associated regulations, as well as permit processes applicable to the process of preparing a vessel for reefing that are not highlighted in this guidance document.

Q: When should this guidance document be used?
A:
The intended application of this guidance document is for the preparation of obsolete and decommissioned military and commercial vessels to be sunk as artificial reefs. This guidance identifies materials or categories of materials of concern that may be found onboard vessels and specifically identifies where they may be found. For each material or category of material that may be found aboard vessels, this guidance document provides a general clean-up performance goal and information on methods for achieving those goals in preparation of the vessel prior to sinking. Achieving and verifying satisfaction of the BMP clean-up performance goals could help support permit applications under the Clean Water Act section 404 or Rivers and Harbors Act section 10, if a permit application is submitted to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Q: How can I get a copy of the guidance?
A:
You can obtain a copy of the guidance by accessing our Web site at http://www.epa.gov/owow/oceans/habitat/artificialreefs/finalguidance.html




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