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Face of Defense: Coast Guard Civilian Tackles Tough Trash Issues

By U.S. Coast Guard Lt. j.g Stephanie Young and Lt. Cdr. Kevin Lynn
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 26, 2010 – When David Condino started working with the U.S. Coast Guard in 2007, he had little idea that he would soon tackle some of the most important maritime environmental issues in the world.

Condino, a civilian employee and member of the Facility Safety Branch at the Coast Guard’s headquarters in Washington, D.C., has been involved in advancing the Coast Guard’s marine environment protection mission by providing guidance and oversight in key international policies.

A Master Mariner, Condino holds a license of unlimited tonnage and has sailed the world’s oceans thus creating a deep connection to all things maritime. Through his global travels, he has gained a firsthand perspective of how garbage thrown overboard affects the maritime environment.

Although regulations require ports and terminals to provide some waste reception facilities so garbage and other shipboard generated wastes can be disposed of properly, under certain circumstances, the disposal of garbage such as cardboard, paper, metal, and other operational wastes may be discharged while a ship is underway.

When the opportunity to help protect the marine environment with more stringent regulation of shipboard garbage arose, Condino couldn’t help but get involved, landing him at the forefront of international action.

Over the past several years, Condino was the Coast Guard lead, spearheading the United States’ effort to engage the International Maritime Organization to reform regulations to improve the marine habitat. He worked closely with other agencies such as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Environmental Protection Agency and the Departments of State and Navy.

The IMO is a specialized agency of the United Nations based in London that develops international regulations for maritime shipping. As a governing body, the IMO plays a critical role in crafting marine environmental protection protocols, with one such protocol being the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships. This policy is followed globally and is more commonly referred to as the MARPOL Convention.

In July of 1991, the wider Caribbean region, which includes the Gulf of Mexico, was designated as a special area. Because of this designation, new, stricter rules for discharging garbage from ships, would be in effect.

But, before these rules could be enforced, the United States and other wider Caribbean region countries would have to prove to the IMO that adequate reception facilities were available to handle the increase in garbage disposed in port.

Condino launched an aggressive effort to ensure the United States had accurate details on the capabilities of reception facilities and that they were indeed prepared to handle the increase in the disposal of shore side waste.

Armed with this information, the United States along with 25 other nations certified to the IMO that they were ready for the new rules governing the wider Caribbean region area to come into effect. The IMO accepted this certification in March 2010 and as a result, on May 1, 2011, the Gulf of Mexico will become a cleaner maritime habitat.

Jeffrey G. Lantz, director of Commercial Regulations and Standards, said that “as the United States’ lead agency to the IMO, the Coast Guard and its members such as Dave are a critical component in coordinating US interagency support for safe, secure and efficient shipping on clean oceans. Dave’s efforts on reporting adequate reception facilities are immeasurable to ensuring the protection of the marine environment in the Caribbean area.”

Protecting the marine environment from the effects of pollution such as shipboard waste is an ongoing process, and one that will require continued efforts by people like Condino. Cleaning up our oceans and maritime environment is a long journey, but if you walk by Condino’s desk you will see a simple statement posted on his wall that remains his constant motivation…“Let’s talk some trash.”

 

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