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Conn. marinas get pollution-law extension

The Connecticut Marine Trades Association negotiated a compromise with the state's Department of Environmental Protection, giving marinas more time to comply with the federal and state Water Pollution Control Act.

The act covers discharges associated with runoff from pressure-washing boat bottoms, and the deadline for compliance was Sept. 30.

Under the new conditions, each facility will enter into a binding agreement with the DEP to become compliant in the next 19 months, with final compliance by Dec. 31, 2010. Before that time, certain benchmarks must be met by the marine facilities.

For example, by Sept. 30, facilities must prepare and complete plans for containment, collection, treatment, storage and discharge; by Oct. 31, they must file necessary local and DEP permit applications and, by March 31, 2010, they must obtain the necessary permits.

Facilities must sign up within 60 days to be eligible for these changes. Those who don't sign on to the terms and conditions of the agreement will be subject to enforcement Sept. 30.

"The major benefit of this agreement is that it will protect facilities, which sign on, from enforcement by the DEP, the EPA and especially from the environmental organizations that have been known to initiate their own legal actions ... while the facilities are correcting their vessel-washing practices," CMTA executive director Grant Westerson said in a letter to state marine facilities.

"This is a good agreement," he added. "It addresses the issues directly and within a time frame that is workable."

The state DEP had originally given a December 2008 date for compliance but later changed it to September 2009, recognizing the "difficulties in moving an industry from longstanding practices to regulatory compliance," DEP commissioner Gina McCarthy said in a letter to Westerson.

Westerson previously told Soundings Trade Only his members were concerned about the cost of compliance. They will have to spend thousands of dollars for surveys and site plans to get through their towns' review processes, in addition to tens of thousands for pumps, containment systems and other necessary items.

"We're faced with a tremendous expense, [and] we're being forced to do things in a very shortened time frame," Westerson said last year. "We've needed the guidelines from the state to know how to conduct our business afterward. They finally gave us the guidelines, and those are not complete yet, and yet they've shortened our construction time."

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