The role of the Certifying Official and Notice of Intent (NOI)
It has come to ECM attention that some Vessel General Permit (VGP) consulting providers may be inappropriately managing their clients account. This can present significant problems for the client during the USCG/EPA vetting process.
Under the VGP, each company must open an account with the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Part of that process is to designate a “Certifying Official” for the company account. The Certifying Official represents the company in matters pertaining to VGP compliance. Once the account is opened, the company must submit a Notice of Intent (NOI) for each vessel which will trade in the US.
Once the NOI is entered, the Certifying Official must certify each NOI and any subsequent changes to those NOI’s. When a ship is transferred to another company to manage or own, the company must submit a Notice of Termination (NOT) to remove the ship from their EPA account, and the new owner/ operator must submit a NOI to add the ship to their own account.
ECM has found that some service providers are listing themselves as the Certifying Official on all of their client accounts. While this makes it easier for the company since they do not have to be bothered with the certification process, it presents other problems later on. For instance, if they were to try and manage their VGP program themselves or select another service provider to do so for them, they would have to start the entire VGP/NOI process all over again from the start. Additionally, this method of certifying NOIs is completely invalid.
ECM has contacted the EPA for clarification and have been advised that this procedure is not in accordance with the VGP. A service provider may open an account for a client and also enter the NOI’s for the client’s ships, but the client must certify the NOI’s themselves. In certifying the NOI, the Certifying Official is certifying for the company that the company will maintain and operate their vessels in accordance with the requirements of the VGP. This is a legal document which could be used in future litigation should there be a significant compliance issue identified by the EPA.
ECM recommends that all vessel owners who trade to the US review their VGP compliance program to ensure that they have properly identified a Certifying Official for their company and that they have control of their own account with the EPA.
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