Oil Spill Prevention & Response

On August 18, 1990, President George Bush signed into legislation the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 (OPA 90).  This law amended the Clean Water Act (CWA) to augment Federal response authority, increase penalties for unauthorized oil spills, expand the organizational structure of the Federal response framework and provide a greater emphasis on preparedness and response activities.  The CWA requires the preparation of plans to respond to a worst case discharge of oil and other chemical products to U.S. waterways, setting forth specific requirements for the development of such plans.  Sec. 311 of CWA originally required owners/operators of facilities and/or vessels that store oil and chemical products to prepare and submit their response plans by February 18, 1993.  The most recent deadline for submission of the Oil Spill Response Plan was established as February 21, 1996.  Administered in conjunction with the U.S. Coast Guard, the U.S. EPA and the States’ General Land Offices, the primary objective of the Plan is that of "responding to the maximum extent practicable, to a worst case discharge of oil [and other chemical products] and to a substantial threat of such a discharge."

Under the Oil Spill Prevention & Response Act (OSPRA), owner/operators were required to file response plans beginning with the deadline of February 21, 1996.  A qualified engineer must conduct a site-investigation at the facility in an exhaustive search and collection of data pertinent to fulfilling these comprehensive requirements on a multi-jurisdictional level.  The engineer will then formulate appropriate documentation for submittal to the pertinent regulatory agency to satisfy that aspect of the requirement.  The Plan must be filed with two agencies, state and federal.