Oil Spill Legislation


The Lower Columbia Fire Safety Plan was originally drafted to address shipboard fires and was revised to include oil spill response and prevention.  As a result of the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 (OPA 90) and increased public awareness, industry-backed Senate Bill 242 was signed by Oregon Governor Barbara Roberts in 1991. 


The Oregon law, as well as Washington State law enacted the same year, requires that all tank vessels and all commercial vessels over 300 gross tons have an oil spill contingency plan.  In order to comply, vessels must either enroll in an umbrella plan covering the Lower Columbia and Willamette Rivers, or they must have their own approved oil spill contingency plan on file with state regulators.  Plans must specify a response contractor and adequate equipment to effectively respond to spills for a worst case discharge.


Identifying the need for even more focus on their oil spill responsibilities, the MFSA Oil Spill Response and Preparedness Committee was formed in December of 1991 with members representing all phases of the maritime industry from both Oregon and Washington.


The MFSA Vessel Response Plan has been approved by both Oregon and Washington, becoming the first vessel contingency plan to receive the approval of both states.



The Partnership


To meet the requirements set forth in the Oregon and Washington laws, MFSA and Clean Rivers have joined forces in an effort to protect the Lower Columbia and Willamette Rivers commerce and environment.


In 1992 MFSA and CRC entered into a memorandum of agreement allowing MFSA to designate Clean Rivers response equipment and resources in the Plan.  The partnership of MFSA and Clean Rivers makes available the largest inventory of dedicated spill response resources and allows spill response coverage of vessels transiting the entire Lower Columbia and Willamette Rivers – a task that no single response contractor can provide.  As part of this agreement, MFSA contributes financially to co-own the response equipment.



Oil Spill Response 



The MFSA and CRC partnership means improved response capabilities for oil spills in the Columbia and Willamette Rivers.  Agreements allow these two organizations to share equipment and a communications network.  The system now in place makes available the largest possible pool of dedicated spill response resources to enrolled vessels and member facilities operating in the Columbia and Willamette Rivers.


Industry, like most citizens, is vitally concerned about oil spills and their potential economic and environmental impacts.  As the quantity of oil transported by ships has increased, the public’s concern about spills has intensified.  This growing awareness has spawned extensive efforts by both industry and government to provide improved protection against oil spills.


One of the most significant advancements in oil spill control has been the creation of a number of oil spill cooperatives throughout the United States.  Oil and transportation companies have pooled their resources and equipment, and have trained employees to provide effective oil spill control capabilities. CRC is one of these organizations.


CRC acts as the PRC for MFSA covered vessels.  Service agreements are maintained with independent spill contractors providing clean-up services to CRC members and the MFSA.  In addition, the organization owns spill response equipment, operated by these spill response contractors.  This allows CRC to provide MFSA with modern oil spill equipment and a corps of well-trained personnel ready to respond to any oil spill on land or water. 


A vessel owner or operator enrolls a vessel for coverage under the Plan by entering into an Enrollment Agreement with MFSA, following the other enrollment procedures specified in the Enrollment Agreement and paying the applicable vessel trip fee for coverage under the Plan.  By enrolling for coverage under the Plan, the covered vessel and the owner agree to all of the terms and conditions of the enrollment agreement and agree to follow the provisions of the Plan.  Enrollment information is available under the Oil Spills:  Vessel Enrollment & Plan Documents page on this website.