OPA ' 9 0 Implementation
Single-Hull Retrofit Regulations The OPA '90-mandated retrofit regulations for single-hull vessels were further delayed recently when a report from Herbert Engineering Corp., a San Francisco consultancy, surprisingly called into question basic assumptions behind the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) regarding retrofitting single-hull tankers of more than 5,000 gt with protectively-located non-oil spaces (PL/S). The report on Probabilistic Oil Outflow Analysis concluded that the PL/S would not increase environmental safety but could actually increase oil outflow in the event of a collision, and at significant cost to owners.
The USCG is currently considering a "three-prong approach" to the situation: • Expediting the implementation of non-controversial elements of the NPRM — requiring emergency lightering equipment and that foreign- flag vessels report their International Maritime Organization (IMO) international number in the Advance Notice of Arrival report. • New rulemaking to include operational issues after identifying op- erational measures some owner/operators have implemented that may reduce casualties, as well as expanding regulations to include more tank vessels, and converting some Navigation and Vessel Inspection Circulars into regulations.
• A supplemental NPRM and revised Regulatory Analysis regarding structural measures and hydrostatically balanced loading (HBL).
Vessel Response Plans On Feb. 4,1994, the USCG approved the first company vessel oil spill response plan required by OPA '90. The first company approved was Naess Shipping B/V of Holland; the first domestic company approved was Coastal Towing of Houston, Texas. Capt. Michael J. Donohoe, branch chief for Headquarters' Marine Environmental Protection Division, said the USCG was presently processing more than 1,700 plans for more than 7,000 vessels, and expected additional approvals in the near future.
The USCG continues to receive five to eight plans per week, and anticipates completing its review of the vessel spill response plans already being processed by the end of August 1994.
National & Area Contingency Area Contingency Plans must address requirements of the National Contingency Plan (NCP), improvements upon which OPA '90 mandated.
Reportedly, all are approved or pending approval.
Committees created to draw up the plans have reportedly identified their areas' sensitivities and structured response priorities based on them. The EPA, the lead agency for the NCP, published the NCP proposed rule on October 22, 1993.
Discharge Removal Equipment OPA '90's requirement for the carrying of pollution discharge equipment found its way into an Interim Final Rule (IFR) published December 22, 1993, requiring sorbents, containers to hold recovered waste, deck-cleaning emulsifiers, protective clothing, at least one non-sparking portable pump with hoses and scupper plugs.
Double Hulls An IFR on double-hulling all vessels operating in U.S. waters was published August 12, 1992. OPA '90 requires all vessels carrying oil in bulk cargo to have double hulls by 2015 via a phasing-in process. The IFR provided technical standards for double-hulling vessels that OPA '90 itself did not, enabling the shipping and shipbuilding industries to make the provision a reality. Issues still to be settled are the Environmental Assessment, the definition of oil, and the IMO Marine Environment Protection Committee's recommendations regarding MARPOL amendments dealing with existing vessels.
Studies Three of five major studies were submitted to Congress for approval on January 4, 1993: the IMO Comparative Design Study, the National Academy of Sciences Study, and the Herbert Engineering Study (which resulted in the previouslymentioned delay in single-hull retrofit rules). One of the remaining reports is complete and being cleared. The other, the Tanker Navigation Safety Study, is of such complexity that it has been broken down into 12 sub-studies, and is expected to be completed in several more years.
Tanker Escorts According to Bruce Novak of the USCG's OPA '90 Staff, the two states identified by OPA '90 for tanker escort requirements are Washington and Alaska. He said the USCG has taken some "heavy hits" on the issue from lawmakers who want tankers traversing state waters to have mandatory tug escorts, particularly in Washington, where the major proponents of immediate precautionary measures are Gov. Mike Lowry and Congresswoman Jolene Unsoeld (DWash.).
The USCG has reportedly said that safety measures should be created within the boundaries set by international treaties and agreements, and through diplomatic channels between the U.S. and Canada.
The Business Of Crisis Management OPA '90 has created a private sector determination to prepare for spills, often beyond what's required by law. Oil spill preparedness has become marketable, and companies are offering a host of products and services to tanker owners and others in related fields. The trend has extended to training for crews, training for lawyers, insurance officers and others: organizations such as Environmental Crisis Management, Inc. (ECI) of Stamford, Conn, offer seminars on decisionmaking in oil spill crisis situations (its most recent was held on May 2). The seminar, called "Spill '94: A Problem-Solving Symposium," is made up of scenarios which introduce a series of problems attendees would encounter in an oil spill situation, and illustrates ways they must work together to resolve those situations optimally.
Environmental videos are being offered to assist owner/operators in preparing themselves for the future as dictated by OPA '90: PCCI of Alexandria. Va. offers owner/operators a video on developing vessel spill response plans. Oil spill response contractors are another outgrowth of the "response fever" which has translated into business opportunity. New technologies are being developed either specifically for, or with definite application in, oil spill response: from GPS-linked oil slick tracking buoys to powerful ECDIS systems to improve navigation and reduce the likelihood of ground The Near Future More recent developments toward oil spill prevention measures, resulting from more recent experience, include laws reportedly being considered in Puerto Rico to keep tankers five miles offshore until cleared by port officials, and legislation that would allow background checks on owners and the barring from San Juan Bay of any owners with previous violations. As the industry gains more experience in combating spills, new issues will arise and command attention: this makes sense if one views OPA '90 as a commitment to an evolutionary process that will result in reducing the probability of oil spills to a minimum. Mr. Novak of the OPA '90 Staff cites two major unresolved issues: existing vessels and escort vessels. But, he said, "We are making a concerted push to finish up the outstanding issues this year." As stated in a recent report by Mr. Novak, "It is rare to achieve perfection on the first effort, and there is no doubt that as we live with OPA '90 there will be plenty of suggestions on ways to improve it. This is as it should be. The world changes and our understanding of it changes as well."