Federal Oil Spill Contingency Plan Requirements
U.S. Coast Guard regulations addressing oil spill vessel response plans for tank vessels and non-tank vessels can be found at Title 33, Code of Federal Regulations, Part 155 -- PART 155—Oil and Hazardous Material Pollution Prevention Regulations for Vessels – Subparts D and J respectively. In short, all tank vessels and all non-tank vessels 400 gross tons or greater that operate on the navigable waters of the United States are required to have a vessel response plan to address the worst case discharge or threat thereof.
Washington State Oil Spill Contingency Plan Requirements
Washington Administration Code (WAC) Chapter 173-182 requires all “covered vessels” (means a tank vessel, cargo vessel, or passenger vessel) to have state approved oil spill contingency plans that describe their ability to respond to oil spills. There are essentially three options to providing State of Washington spill response plan coverage for vessels operating in the Puget Sound region and Grays Harbor. These options are: (1) owner/operator vessel response plan; (2) Washington State Maritime Cooperative umbrella oil spill contingency plan; and (3) the National Response Corporation vessel oil spill contingency plan. Options 2 and 3 are discussed below.
For further details regarding the State of Washington Spills Program, go to http://www.ecy.wa.gov/programs/spills/spills.html and more regarding the contingency plan requirements, go to http://www.ecy.wa.gov/programs/spills/preparedness/cplan/cplans.html.
Washington State Maritime Cooperative (WSMC)
WSMC is a non-profit corporation that provides oil spill contingency plan coverage and emergency response system to vessels in Washington waters (except the waters of the Columbia and Snake Rivers) that are not otherwise covered by their own state approved contingency plan. In the event of an oil spill or threatened spill, the system provides a response that may include, but is not limited to, response vessels, boom equipment, skimmers, a qualified incident commander and response personnel. WSMC utilizes the services of primary contractors, Marine Spill Response Corporation (MSRC), Global Diving and Salvage and Islands' Oil Spill Association (IOSA), to maintain a response network of equipment and personnel. Communications and administrative services are provided by the Marine Exchange of Puget Sound (MXPS). For further details, go to http://wsmcoop.org/.
National Response Corporation (NRC)
NRC is approved by Washington State Department of Ecology (Ecology) as a Primary Response Contractor (PRC) meeting Washington State oil spill response contingency planning regulations. The NRC Covered Vessels Washington State Contingency Plan (NRC Plan) has been approved by Ecology for coverage of oil spills and threatened oil spills. For further details, go to http://nrcwaplan.nrcc.com/.
Emergency Response Towing Vessel (ERTV)
Regardless which option above is used to meet State of Washington oil spill contingency plan coverage, all “Covered Vessels” are required to provide an emergency response towing vessel (“ERTV”) stationed at Neah Bay, Washington, if those “Covered Vessels” transit to or from a Washington port through the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Contingency plans for “Covered Vessels” operating in the Strait of Juan de Fuca must now also address ERTV coverage. For further details, go to http://marexps.com/supporting/ertv.