OPA 90 + the Emergency Response Plan

Oil and gas companies need to pay special attention to OPA 90 and how it impacts their emergency response.

Share this post

Twenty years ago, Congress enacted The Oil Pollution Act of 1990 (OPA 90) notification requirement as a direct result of the Exxon Valdez oil spill in Prince William Sound, off the coast of Alaska.

As a result of this law, marine vessels and certain land-based facilities that store oil are required to have response plans. In addition, OPA 90 requires that these regulated facilities and vessels to submit these oil spill plans to various Federal agencies for approval. These emergency OPA 90 vessel response plans are required to contain detailed information as to how they will respond to small, medium, and worst-case spills. Congress delegated responsibility for development of detailed regulations and oversight of regulated facilities to four agencies:

  • Environmental Protection Agency for certain non-transportation related onshore facilities
  • U.S. Coast Guard for certain land-based facilities that transport oil across the water (for loading and offloading vessels)
  • Pipeline Hazardous Materials Safety Administration for certain oil transportation pipelines
  • Minerals Management Service for Offshore pipelines and platforms that store and transport oil

There are many cases where overlap exists between these agencies in which different agencies regulate a portion of the same facility. As an example, most refineries are regulated by three of the four agencies.

Facilities regulated by OPA 90 requirements include, but are not limited to:

  • Offshore production facilities and pipelines
  • Onshore oil pipelines
  • Bulk storage terminals, refineries, and other facilities that store 1,000,000 gallons or more of oil
  • Facilities that store 1,000 gallons or more of oil and transfer oil to barges and ships

The OPA 90 regulation also requires the development of Area Contingency Plans, which describe federal, state, and local response and coordination to spills in each region.

Get in Touch

By completing the above form you have read, understood and accept our Privacy terms as well as our Cookie terms. Read our Privacy Policy.

Jensen Hughes ensures non-discrimination in all programs and activities in accordance with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. If you need more information or special assistance for persons with disabilities or limited English proficiency, contact the Jensen Hughes Compliance Team at 410-737-8677 or compliance@jensenhughes.com. 

More blog posts from Jensen Hughes


Using Digital Technology to Transform Your Police Department

Jan 24, 2023

Remember when business guru and Cisco CEO John Chambers famously announced that every organization will be digital?

Read more
Just Accepted a Position as Police Chief? Here’s Who You Can Turn to for Advice

Jan 19, 2023

It’s surprising how many times police chiefs have asked our law enforcement consulting team for advice on who to reach out to for information, feedback, and guidance on addressing technical police-related matters or community crises.

Read more
Yacht Security: Managing Risk in Ports and on the High Seas

Jan 9, 2023

Our support to private clients extends to wherever they live, work, play or travel. For some of them, much of that activity happens on vessels, from classic sailboats to mega yachts.

Read more