Through federal court action, U.S. EPA has been charged with developing a general national permit system for the discharge of ballast water and other constituents from vessels into U.S. jurisdictional waters. Vessel discharges impact aquatic environments through the introduction of invasive species and pollutants. GLEC and subcontractors ERG and Abt Associates assisted EPA’s Office of Wastewater Management with this permit development effort through GLEC’s EPA contract for National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) support. Key research efforts include the development of a comprehensive biological evaluation of potential discharge impacts on threatened and endangered species and a detailed study characterizing the nature and impacts of discharges from all commercial fishing vessels and non-recreational vessels less than 79 ft. in length. The potential universe of vessels affected by NPDES discharge permits includes 8,500 cargo vessels, 53,000 freight and tank barges, 81,000 commercial fishing vessels and 13,000,000 state-registered recreational vessels.
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GLEC operates one of only a few U.S. laboratories accredited for whole sediment toxicity testing. GLEC also maintains NELAP accreditation for chlorophyll and nutrient chemistry testing.