Spill Response Plan FAQs

Spill Response Plan FAQs

What is included in an oil spill response plan?

An oil spill response plan is an extensive plan for both onshore and offshore oil handling facilities and vessels. Each oil spill response plan must list specific steps for preventing, managing and recovering from an oil spill. Included in the oil response plan should be a list of appropriate personnel and equipment required to respond to a spill. When writing up an oil response plan, a facility must consider the worst case discharge scenario.


What is the benefit to having an oil spill response plan?

Oil spill response plans are designed to lessen the impact of an oil spill. When a facility has an oil spill, the spill response plan offers an approved method of response ready to be put into action at a moment’s notice. In accordance with the Oil Pollution Act of 1990, many onshore and offshore facilities are required by law to submit spill response plans.


What determines whether a facility is legally obligated to submit a spill response plan?

Facilities that are deemed likely to pose significant environmental harm are required by law the write up and submit a spill response plan to the appropriate committee. These facilities are those with an oil holding capacity of 10,000 gallons or more. Smaller facilities that have significant oil spills within the past year are required to submit oil spill response plans as well.


Who reviews mandatory spill response plans?

Many oil handling facilities are required by law to submit an oil spill response plan. The overseeing party will vary depending on the facility location. For onshore marine facilities and oil-carrying vessels, the US Coast Guard reviews all oil spill response plans. Non-transportation onshore facilities report to the EPA. Both the US Department of the Interior and the Bureau of Safety review oil spill response plans for offshore facilities. Under the DOT, the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) oversees onshore oil pipeline spill response plans.


How often must spill response plans be updated or renewed?

Oil spill response plans are required to be re-submitted every five years for continual review. Anytime significant technical revisions are made within the five year period, facilities are required to re-submit the oil spill response plan.


What involvement does the OSRO have with spill removal plans?

All oil carrying vessels are required to submit spill response plans. To help simplify this task, the US Coast Guard evaluates and ranks organizations prepared to respond to an oil spill. Once an organization has been evaluated, vessel and facility operators may list the OSRO in their spill response plan, eliminating the need to list response equipment. For more on Oil Spill response Organizations, see our OSRO page.


What is a Facility Response Plan?

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) established the Facility Response Plan (FRP) mandate following the Oil Pollution Act of 1990. The FRP is a spill response plan specifically for onshore facilities that handle or store oil. Like other oil spill response plans, the FRP must include plans to deal with a worst case discharge scenario. The FRP mandate is required by law to be followed by facilities whose oil handling capacities have the potential to cause significant and substantial environmental harm as determined by the EPA.


What factors determine whether an onshore facility must submit a FRP?

In evaluating onshore facilities, the EPA may determine that a spill response plan must be submitted. Applicable facilities are those that have the potential to cause significant and substantial harm. Determining factors include age of oil holding tanks, method of oil transferring, oil storage capacity, proximity to aquatic life and drinking water, and spill history.


What prevention planning may be included in a spill response plan?

Keeping all staff trained on all procedures, or designating specific employees for high-risk tasks can help minimize spills. Plans for regular maintenance or replacement of equipment, holding tanks, and oil transfer operations should be listed in a spill response plan.