December 10, 2013

Sens. Warren & Markey, Rep. Keating Urge Coast Guard to Adopt Stronger Regulations for Vessels in Buzzards Bay

Call for Rules Requiring Independent Vessel Pilots and Escort Tug Boats for Barges Carrying Oil, Hazardous Materials

WASHINGTON, DC - United States Senators Elizabeth Warren and Edward J. Markey, and Representative Bill Keating have sent a letter urging the Coast Guard to adopt stronger regulations mandating the use of independent vessel pilots and escort tug boats for all barges carrying 5,000 or more barrels of oil or other hazardous materials through Buzzards Bay.

In their letter, the lawmakers highlighted the devastating 2003 fuel oil spill in Buzzards Bay, and Massachusetts' efforts to prevent future spills through the Massachusetts Oil Spill Prevention and Response Act. They expressed concern about the Coast Guard's proposal to require escort tug boats for double hull barges only in circumstances such as adverse weather conditions, noting that the 2003 spill occurred in the middle of the day during favorable weather conditions.

"We must do everything we can to prevent another spill," wrote Senators Warren and Markey, and Representative Keating in the letter. "We urge in the strongest possible terms that the Coast Guard promulgate regulations that will continue the Commonwealth's effort to reduce the probability of future oil spill, and mandate the use of independent pilots and escort tugs. We believe these strong and sensible safeguards will help protect Buzzards Bay for future generations."

The Coast Guard released its proposed rule on July 8, 2013, and is currently reviewing public comments.

To view the full text of the letter, please click here.