After a nearly 20-year wait since the original issuance of the OPA-90 regulatory package, the American Salvage Association (ASA) expressed its recognition for the final implementation of Salvage and Marine Firefighting Regulations (SMFF), 33 Code of Federal Regulations Part 155 Subpart I, for tank vessels that went into effect on February 22, 2011.
From the Exxon Valdez spill
that prompted OPA-90, to the 1996 promulgation of Vessel Response Plan (VRP) regulations requiring contracts with Oil Spill Removal Organizations (OSRO), to the first public workshop held by the Coast Guard in 1997 to address the need for well-defined salvage regulations, to the final rule being published on December 31, 2008, the road to final implementation has been long.
“The ASA appreciates the United States Coast Guard’s efforts to finalize implementation of these challenging yet critically important regulations that will improve safety at sea and protect both human life and the environment in the case of maritime disasters,” said ASA President Mauricio Garrido. “It is now up to the Coast Guard to ensure that the intent of the salvage regulations is adhered to by uniformly enforcing them throughout U.S. waters.”
“Much credit is also due to Congressman Elijah Cummings, former Chairman of the House Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Subcommittee, who urged the Coast Guard to make these salvage regulations a priority for the nation,” Garrido continued.
ASA members should also be credited for their work in assisting the Coast Guard to craft regulations and providing guidance to ensure vessel response plans are updated to identify and contract for appropriate salvage and marine firefighting resources.
Salvage regulations for non-tank vessels are, however, still needed.