What are the Emergency Responder Criteria under OPA-90?


An important outcome in the enactment of the Oil Spill Pollution Act of 1990 (OPA-90) was the requirement for vessels entering the US waters to have a listed Emergency Responder. OPA -90 was signed into law in August 1990, largely in response to rising public concern following the Exxon Valdez Incident.

In march 1989, The Exxon Valdez spilled over 11 million Gallons of Alaskan Crude into the Waters of Prince William Sound. The environmental damage and the massive clean up efforts were the most visible effects of the spill. Another result of the incident was the enactment of OPA-90 which requires vessels entering the US waters to have a listed responder for these types of emergencies. Before this there was no obligation.

There are 15 key points these emergency responders need to ensure they qualify under and customers should ensure they use these in their evaluation for choosing a suitable Salvage and Marine Firefighting Provider.

1 . Currently working in the response service needed.

The provider must be an established service provider in the industry with notable experience and have historically proven response capabilities.

2 . History of participation in successful salvage and marine firefighting operations, including equipment deployment.

This can range from simple and complex groundings, wreck removals, decommissioning jobs, and firefighting responses.

3. Own or have contracts in place for equipment needed.

It is normal for these organizations to have emergency response equipment stockpiles in warehouse locations across the globe and a warehouse specifically for OPA-90. Larger organizations will have agreements with towage, diving, heavy lift, and lightering providers for supplementary equipment needs.

4. Employ personnel with documented training certification and degree experience.

Many organizations will have numerous dedicated salvage masters with numerous years of experience and supplementary training such as HazMat, Tanker Emergency Response Operations, and Firefighting Training. However, it is essential to have easy access to verify qualifications.

5. 24-hour availability of personnel and equipment.

This is often achieved by organizations having dedicated subsidiaries providing salvage, marine firefighting and equipment stockpile warehouse facilities. Ensuring the capacity to respond 24/7 to any emergency response situation.

6. Have an on-going continuous training program.

On-going training programs for staff will usually consist of a number courses for responders. Firefighting personnel should be trained in accordance with all marine firefighting training guidelines.

7. Successful record of participation in drills and exercises.

Organizations should have records that they participate in global drills and exercises regularly with all existing standby customers.

8. Salvage or Marine firefighting plans used and approved for during real incidents.

Response organizations will usually have created and utilized salvage plans approved by the relevant private and public stakeholders in each of there past emergency response cases. This is a good way of gauging capabiliy. Marine firefighting plans should form part of the Salvage Plan and should be compiled in close coordination with marine firefighting experts.

9. Obtained membership of a relevant national or international organization.

This would include membership associations such as the International Salvage Union, American Salvage Association, NAMEPA, IMCA, and SNAME, to name a few.

10. Insurance that covers the salvage and marine firefighting services they provide.

Insurance covers should normally include Marine Commercial Liability, Marine Employers Liability, High risk - Accident Crew and Salvage Equipment Cover.

11. Have sufficient up front capital to support an operation.

Many response organizations will be subsidiaries of a larger operations. Ensure an organization has proven ability to sustain long and complex operations.

12. Experience of work in the specific regional geographic environment in which a vessel operates.

Examples would be dealing with specific bottom type, water turbidity, water depth, sea state, and temperature extremes.

13. Proven capability to sustain operations for extended periods of time in arduous sea conditions.

This is usually achieved through partnerships within response organizations. Numerous logistical and transportation agreements are in place throughout the industry to sustain operations in arduous sea conditions for extended periods of time.

14. Capability to implement the necessary engineering, administrative, and personal protective equipment controls.

Response organizations must ensure the appropriate health, safety, environment, and quality control procedures in place to safeguard the well-being of their employees and subcontractors.

15. Familiarity with the salvage and marine firefighting protocol contained in the local ACPs.

Exercising in contracted regions is key to ensuring familiarity with the Area Contingency Plans for all relevant contracted areas.

Final Thought

[D4H] Technologies is designed especially for response teams to aid in easily producing information that shows their organization qualifies under set criteria. We're always interested in anything that aids responders in improving their capabilities.

Want to learn more about us Request an Information Pack or Email Me directly.

Robert Charles
D4H Technologies

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