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MTR Facility Response Plan Revisions due March 24, 2011

Posted on Tue, Mar 22, 2011

The U.S. Coast Guard issued a Port Information Bulletin detailing the definition of applicable terms and a reminder of the deadline for response plan updates. Marine transportation-related (MTR) facilities to which 33 CFR 154 Subpart F, “Response Plans for Oil Facilities” applies shall submit response plan updates that include the provisions outlined in the final rule to the Captain of the Port (COTP) by March 24, 2011.

The definition of the term “inland rivers” needed clarification in the final ruling, as this term was not defined within 33 CFR Parts 154 or 155. Because of this confusion the original deadline date of February 22, 2011 was extended to March 24, 2011. After review, the U.S. Coast Guard and the Department of Homeland Security determined that terms “inland rivers” and “inland areas” shall be considered equivalent. Therefore, the maritime industry and the COTP shall use the terms equally as defined in 33 CFR Part 154.

Inland area means the area shoreward of the boundary lines defined in 46 CFR part 7, except in the Gulf of Mexico. In the Gulf of Mexico, it means the area shoreward of the lines of demarcation (COLREG lines) defined in §§80.740 through 80.850 of this chapter. The inland area does not include the Great Lakes.

However, facilities operating exclusively on inland rivers are not required to comply with paragraph (j), the aerial oil tracking portion of 33CFR 154.1045. The rule states as follows:

(j) The owner or operator of a facility handling Groups I through IV petroleum oil as a primary cargo must identify in the response plan, and ensure the availability through contract or other approved means, of response resources necessary to provide aerial oil tracking to support oil spill assessment and cleanup activities. Facilities operating exclusively on inland rivers are not required to comply with this paragraph. Aerial oil tracking resources must:

(1) Be capable of arriving at the site of a discharge in advance of the arrival of response resources identified in the plan for tiers 1, 2, and 3 Worst-Case Discharge response times, and for a distance up to 50 nautical miles from shore (excluding inland rivers);

(2) Be capable of supporting oil spill removal operations continuously for three 10-hour operational periods during the initial 72 hours of the discharge;

(3) Include appropriately located aircraft and personnel capable of meeting the response time requirement for oil tracking from paragraph (j)(1) of this section; and

(4) Include sufficient numbers of aircraft, pilots, and trained observation personnel to support oil spill removal operations, commencing upon initial assessment, and capable of coordinating on-scene cleanup operations, including dispersant and mechanical recovery operations.

All facilities must update their facility response plans to incorporate OSRO and spill management team requirements as outlined in 33 CFR 154.1035 (b)(3), the specific requirements for facilities that could reasonably be expected to cause significant and substantial harm to the environment.

Upon verification of complying updates, the COTP will issue Interim Operating Authorizations (IOAs) to facilities in accordance with 33 CFR 154.1065(e). According to the U.S. Coast Guard, if an applicable MTR facility is found to be handling, storing or transporting oil and there is no proof that an updated response plan has been submitted to the COTP, a Notice of Violation will be issued to the owner or operator with a maximum penalty of $11,000.  Additionally, the COTP may prohibit operations for the facility(s) until an updated response plan is submitted.

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Tags: Emergency Preparedness, Regulatory Compliance, Deadline Approaching