General Laws of Massachusetts - Chapter 21M Vessel Traffic Service - Section 9 Entry or operation of vessel in Buzzards Bay; dispatching of rescue tugs and state pilots; reporting of navigational incidents; regulations

Section 9. (a) An owner or operator of a tank vessel carrying 6,000 or more barrels of oil may provide 24-hour notice to the department, in a manner to be determined by the department, of the owner or operator’s intent to enter or operate such vessel in Buzzard’s bay.

(b) If notice by an owner or operator of a tank vessel intending to enter or operate in Buzzard’s bay is given to the department in accordance with subsection (a) and, at the time such notice is provided, the owner or operator requested that a state pilot be dispatched to a towing vessel for the purposes of guiding such tank vessel into or within Buzzard’s bay, the commissioner shall dispatch a state pilot to the towing vessel for such owner’s or operator’s tank vessel if the vessel is unaccompanied by a tugboat escort.

(c) If the requested state pilot does not board the tank vessel or towing vessel, the state pilot may monitor the safe passage of the vessel and provide information to the tank vessel operator on current or anticipated navigational issues from the pilot boat or from the state-provided tugboat escort.

(d) The commissioner shall dispatch a state-provided tugboat escort to every tank vessel carrying 6,000 or more barrels of oil while entering or operating in Buzzards bay which is otherwise unaccompanied by a tugboat escort.

(e) The state pilot or operator of a state-provided tugboat escort shall report to the commissioner all near and actual navigational incidents that could potentially lead to an oil spill including, but not limited to: any tank vessel traveling outside of the designated vessel route as appearing on the national oceanic and atmospheric administration chart for Buzzards bay; failure to use AIS; any near or actual collision, allision or grounding; steering or engine failure and; towing gear failure. The commissioner shall record, make available to the public and keep on file these reports for not less than 10 years.

(f) The commissioner may waive the requirement of subsection (b) or (d) upon determination that exigent circumstances exist. No such authorization shall be construed to relieve or otherwise limit the liability of an owner or operator of a tank vessel for any oil spill from such tank vessel that occurs while the tank vessel enters or operates in Buzzards bay. The commissioner shall report, annually, not later than January 1, to the joint committee on the environment, natural resources and agriculture, as well as report in the Environmental Monitor, the number of occasions that such exemptions were authorized.

(g) The commissioner shall adopt regulations for the implementation, administration and enforcement of this section including, but not limited to, the dispatching of state pilots, manning requirements and the dispatching of state-provided tugboat escorts.

(h) The commissioner may enter into contracts with companies to dispatch and provide state-provided tugboat escorts, which meet or exceed the standards required under this section.

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Last modified: September 11, 2015