Final Rule for OPA 90 Vessel Financial Responsibility Announced

Thursday, September 18, 2008

The Coast Guard published a final rule amending Coast Guard regulations under the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 (OPA 90), in Title 33, Code of Federal Regulations, Part 138, governing requirements for vessel owners and operators to establish and maintain evidence of financial responsibility.

The amendments ensure the amounts of financial responsibility that must be demonstrated under the Coast Guard's Certificate of Financial Responsibility program are consistent with increases to the OPA 90 limits of liability by the Delaware River Protection Act of 2006.  The amendments also increase the COFR application and certification fees, and eliminate the requirement that an original printed COFR be carried aboard covered vessels.

The amendments ensure vessel owners and operators have the ability to pay for removal costs and damages up to the OPA 90 limits of liability, in the event of an oil pollution incident.  The fee increases account for inflation.  In addition, improved technology now enables the Coast Guard to verify whether a vessel has a current COFR electronically, a more efficient and cost effective method than tasking inspectors to view a paper certificate on board each vessel.

The Coast Guard encourages the public to view the final rule in the Federal Register at 73 FR 53691, or online at

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