Hearing on Oil Spills from Non-Tank Vessels

Wednesday, December 19, 2007
On December 18, the Subcommittee on Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries & Coast Guard of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation conducted a hearing on Oil Spills from Non-Tank Vessels. Committee Chairman Daniel Inouye (D-HI) noted the success of OPA 90 in reducing spills from tank vessels, but noted that the incidence of spills from non-tank vessels have not declined as much, asking whether standards for these vessels should be strengthened. Admiral Thad Allen, Commandant, US Coast Guard, discussed efforts to make fuel tanks on vessels less susceptible to damage and proposed increasing the limit of liability for damages caused by oil spills from non-tank vessels. Ms. Mary Glackin, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) discussed the agency’s role in oil spill response. Ms. Susan Fleming, Government Accountability Office (GAO), recommended that the Coast Guard determine whether liability limits should be changed by vessel type and submit a report to Congress. Mr. Mike Cooper, Washington Oil Spill Advisory Council, recommended that the federal government delegate additional authority to the various states to reduce the risk of oil spills. Mr. William Deaver, Totem Ocean Trailer Express, explained steps taken in the design, construction, and operation of the company’s ships to reduce the risk of pollution. Dr. Dagmar Etkin, Environmental Research Consulting, discussed ways to reduce the risk of oil spills. She also noted that it is rare that more than 25% of spilled oil is recovered. Source: HK Law

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