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USCG Oil Spill Planning and the Facility Response Plan

Posted on Thu, Sep 26, 2013

Oil Pollution Act of 1990 (OPA 90) created comprehensive prevention, response, liability, and compensation policies for vessel and facilities that could cause oil pollution to U.S. navigable waters. For facilities adjacent or nearby shorelines, OPA 90 highlights the need for site-specific Facility Response Plans (FRP).

Responding to an oil spill is a dynamic scenario with multiple moving parts and trajectories, both in regards to the material spilled and the responders involved. As a result, a FRP must provide guidelines to quickly, safely, and effectively respond to a spill.

OPA 90 greatly increased federal oversight of oil related vessels and facilities in attempt to provide greater environmental safeguards. OPA 90 implemented the following key points:

  • Set new requirements for vessel construction, crew licensing, and manning
  • Mandated contingency planning
  • Enhanced federal response capability
  • Broadened enforcement authority
  • Increased penalties
  • Created new research and development programs
  • Increased potential liabilities
  • Significantly broadened financial responsibility requirements.

Facilities can enhance oil spill response efforts and incorporate regulatory compliance by preparing site-specific FRPs.  A FRP must provide responders with processes and procedures to quickly, safely, and effectively respond to a spill to prevent further damaging effects. The following are US Coast Guard OPA 90 Facility Response Plan components (33 CFR 154.1035):

Prioritized notification procedures

  1. List of facility response personnel.
  2. List of Federal, State or local agencies, as required
  • Spill response notification forms to Federal, State, local agencies. Form must state that initial notification must not be delayed by collection of data.
  • Notification of the National Response Center.

Facility’s spill mitigation procedures

  1. Description of volume and oil groups that would be involved in the following:
    • Average, maximum and worse discharge from the MTR facility. And, where applicable, the worst case discharge from the non-transportation-related facility.
  2. Prioritized list of procedures and facility personnel (identified by job title).  Procedures must address actions to be taken in the event of a discharge, potential discharge or emergency involving equipment and scenarios.
  3. Listing of equipment and the responsibilities of facility personnel to mitigate an average most probable discharge.

Facility's response activities: Responsibilities of facility personnel to initiate a response and supervise response resources pending arrival of qualified individuals.

  1. Responsibilities and authority of the qualified individual and alternate as required in § 154.1026.
  2. Application of the following organizational structure to manage response actions:
    • Command and control
    • Public information
    • Safety
    • Liaison with government agencies
    • Spill operations
    • Planning
    • Logistics support
    • Finance
  3. Identification oil spill removal organizations and the spill management teams to be capable of providing the following response resources:
  • Equipment and supplies to meet § 154.1045, 154.1047, as appropriate
  • Trained personnel for response to be on hand for the first 7 days of the response
  • Job descriptions for each spill management team member within the organizational structure in a response action.
  • For mobile facilities in more than one COTP zone, oil spill removal organizations and the spill management teams must be identified from paragraph (3)(iv) and included in each COTP zone.

Sensitive Environments

  1. Identification of areas of economic importance and environmental sensitivities which are potentially impacted by a worst case discharge
  2. Development of plans to contain detailed information as to how they will respond to small, medium, and worst-case spills. Identification of  appropriate equipment and personnel as described in § 154.1028 to protect sensitive elements by one of the following calculations:
    • Persistent oils and non-petroleum oils discharged into non-tidal waters, the distance from the facility reached in 48 hours at maximum current.
    • Persistent and non-petroleum oils discharged into tidal waters, 15 miles from the facility down current during ebb tide and to the point of maximum tidal influence or 15 miles, whichever is less, during flood tide.
    • Non-persistent oils discharged into non-tidal waters, the distance from the facility reached in 24 hours at maximum current.
    • Non-persistent oils discharged into tidal waters, 5 miles from the facility down current during ebb tide and to the point of maximum tidal influence or 5 miles, whichever is less, during flood tide.
    • Spill trajectory or model may be substituted if acceptable to Captain of the Port.
    • Procedures contained in the Environmental Protection Agency’s regulations on oil pollution prevention may be substituted for non-tidal and tidal waters.
    • Captain of the Port may require additional sensitive elements to be protected depending on trajectory.
  3. Disposal Plan

Training and Exercises

  1. Training and drill procedures facility owner or operator must fulfill
  2. Plan reviews and update procedures

Site Specifications

  1. List of contacts must include primary and alternate personnel, response contractors and Federal, state and local officials.
  2. Equipment list and records
  3. Communications plan
  4. Site-specific safety and health plan

The above is a summary of the USCG regulation. For more specific information regarding requirements for facilities that could reasonably be expected to cause significant and substantial harm to the environment, please see  33 CFR 154.1035.

Understanding the required elements of the SPCC and FRP, and associated inspections may minimize potential regulatory penalties and fines and curtail operational downtime. For a free download on the SPCC and FRP nspections, click the image below:


Tags: USCG, Facility Response Plan, OPA 90, Oil Spill, Facility Management, Communication Plan