(1) The owner or operator in charge of any vessel covered by this chapter is required to ensure that the vessel under their ownership or control does not discharge ballast water into the waters of the state except as authorized by this section.
(2) Discharge of ballast water into waters of the state is authorized only if there has been an open sea exchange, or if the vessel has treated its ballast water, to meet standards set by the department consistent with applicable state and federal laws.
(3) The department, in consultation with a collaborative forum, shall adopt by rule standards for the discharge of ballast water into the waters of the state and their implementation timelines. The standards are intended to ensure that the discharge of ballast water poses minimal risk of introducing nonindigenous species. In developing these standards, the department shall consider the extent to which the requirement is technologically and practically feasible. Where practical and appropriate, the standards must be compatible with standards set by the United States coast guard, the federal clean water act (33 U.S.C. Sec. 1251-1387), or the international maritime organization.
(4) The master, operator, or person in charge of a vessel is not required to conduct an open sea exchange or treatment of ballast water if the master, operator, or person in charge of a vessel determines that the operation would threaten the safety of the vessel, its crew, or its passengers, because of adverse weather, vessel design limitations, equipment failure, or any other extraordinary conditions. A master, operator, or person in charge of a vessel who relies on this exemption must file documentation defined by the department, subject to: (a) Payment of a fee not to exceed five thousand dollars; (b) discharging only the minimal amount of ballast water operationally necessary; (c) ensuring that ballast water records accurately reflect any reasons for not complying with the mandatory requirements; and (d) any other requirements identified by the department by rule as provided in subsections (3) and (6) of this section.
(5) For treatment technologies requiring shipyard modification, the department may enter into a compliance plan with the vessel owner. The compliance plan must include a timeline consistent with drydock and shipyard schedules for completion of the modification. The department shall adopt rules for compliance plans under this subsection.
(6) For an exemption claimed in subsection (4) of this section, the department shall adopt rules for defining exemption conditions, requirements, compliance plans, or alternative ballast water management strategies to meet the intent of this section.
(7) The department shall make every effort to align ballast water standards with adopted international and federal standards while ensuring that the goals of this chapter are met.
(8) The requirements of this section do not apply to a vessel discharging ballast water or sediments that originated solely within the waters of Washington, the Columbia river system, or the internal waters of British Columbia south of latitude fifty degrees north, including the waters of the Straits of Georgia and Juan de Fuca.
(9) Open sea exchange is an exchange that occurs fifty or more nautical miles offshore. If the United States coast guard requires a vessel to conduct an exchange further offshore, then that distance is the required distance for purposes of compliance with this chapter.