Posted by: towmasters | March 29, 2009

TWIC Reader Rulemaking

The Coast Guard’s Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking for the TWIC Reader Requirements was published this past Friday in the Federal Register and, on first read, it looks like something that, with some tweaking, we may possibly be able to live with. Having said that, the administrative burden still looks fairly labor intensive and I feel sorry for whoever gets stuck with writing the amended facility and vessel security plans that will be used to implement this.

The proposed procedures to follow depend upon what the current MARSEC Level is and what type of cargo is carried by the barge or barges you have in tow (which determines your “risk group”). The Table Of Potential Reader Requirements, on page 13365 (6th page in the ANPRM), shows the three categories of TWIC verification functions that must be achieved (identity verification, card authentication and card validity check) and the specific protective measures or actions that must be taken to achieve them depending upon where in the MARSEC – Risk Group matrix you land. We’ll be categorized into Risk Groups A through C in descending order of  risk. You’re in Risk Group A if you’re carrying  Certain Dangerous Cargoes (or CDC’s), as defined in 33 CFR § 160.204, in bulk. If you are carrying hazardous materials (HAZMAT) other than CDC’s, as defined by the Table Of Hazardous Materials in 49 CFR § 172.101, or crude oil you’re in Risk Group B. You’re in Risk Group C if you’re carrying Non-HAZMAT, which would be everything else not qualifying as HAZMAT or Certain Dangerous Cargoes. Basically (unless you’re moving toxic chemicals or gases, blasting agents, radioactive materials or ammonium nitrate fertilizer), most of us will fall into groups B & C (Group B if you move petroleum), thereby avoiding the strictest of the procedures (a biometric match of your fingerprints every time you enter your facility) unless the MARSEC Level is at 2 or 3.

Fortunately, it seems as if the towing industry will be spared the ridiculous and heinously expensive burden of having to keep a card reader on board each vessel for providing access control, as the proposed crew size cut-off is 14 for that requirement. If you have a bigger crew than that then a reader would be necessary. While that might wind up applying to some of the biggest oilfield vessels, no tug would ever get close to it. In any case, the card readers will be located at the shoreside facilities. The need for the use of your PIN every time you have to show your card is being reconsidered, as described on pages 13365-13367 (pages 6, 7 & 8 in the ANPRM) . 

So far, we can be cautiously optimistic that this regulatory proceeding is moving in a generally okay direction and the Coast Guard appears to be reasonable in its approach. Nevertheless, I urge everyone to wade through the 11-page ANPRM and make some comments, particularly about the potential PIN-use requirements. They’re being taken through May 26th and you can comment online at Coast Guard docket number USCG-2007-28915 by clicking the little yellow balloon icon beneath Add Comments on the far right of the Documents section. It’s easy, so give it a try.

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