Oil Program

As a result of the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 (OPA 90) and increased public awareness, the states of Oregon and Washington enacted laws in the early 1990’s to address specific regional preparedness and response needs. Information on these requirements can be found on their websites.

Vessel Response Plan

The Maritime Fire & Safety Association is the holder of an umbrella plan that meets both Oregon and Washington state regulations.
Both states have regulations for oil spill contingency planning that go beyond the federal regulations. These regulations apply to commercial vessels greater than 300 gross tons.
Because the Columbia River is the border of the two states and as such any vessel entering the river system, regardless of whether their destination is in Washington or Oregon, must have a plan that meets both requirements.

Interim Spill Response Coordinators (ISRCs)

The Maritime Fire & Safety Association, as part of their state approved Vessel Response Plan for the Columbia and Willamette rivers, maintains a list of experienced individuals who are qualified to act as Incident Commander in the immediate response phase of an event that activates the Plan. These MFSA Interim Spill Response Coordinators, or ISRCs, are well trained in oil spill response practices and the Incident Command System. They train and exercise with MFSA and Clean Rivers staff, our various contractors and local regulatory agencies to ensure that they are prepared to effectively manage a response event. At any point in time two ISRCs are on-call and prepared to respond – 24-hours a day.

Training and PRC

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.

 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 & Preparedness Committee

The primary purpose of the Oil Spill Response & Preparedness Committee is to promote and facilitate information sharing between members of the maritime industry and state and federal regulators regarding spill prevention.  The committee, administered by MFSA staff, will be made up of local ports, vessel agents and operators, pilots, response contractors, regulatory agencies and MFSA member facilities.

Also, the OSRPC chair holds a seat on the MFSA Board of Directors.


State contingency plan regulations apply to all commercial vessels greater than 300 gross tons and tank vessels of any size that are carrying petroleum cargo.

Each time a deep draft ship or tank barge crosses the Columbia River Bar into the river it counts as a separate trip and requires enrollment under the Plan. 

If you’re a commercial deep draft ship, probably not.  The state regulations do include a few exemptions:

  • Personal vessels that are not being used in commercial applications – yachts, recreational fishing boats.
  • Commercial vessels that are less than 300 gross tons (300GT). Refer to the vessel’s official documentation if you are unsure.
  • Vessels owned and operated by the US Government (DOT, military, etc.). Does not apply to state owned vessels or government vessels leased and operated by others.

All other commercial vessels must enroll.

Only steamship agency companies (Agents) or vessel operators (Operators) who are current members of the Columbia River Steamship Operators Association (CRSOA) and are in good standing may apply for the privileges of Blanket Enrollment.  All others must enroll using the services of one of the listed Agents or enroll via Direct Enrollment.

No.  The MFSA Plan provides response services for covered vessels.  Facilities that require response coverage must have their own plan and contract for services with a for-hire response contractor.

No.  The contingency plans offered by WSMC and NRCES do not meet the requirements of the State of Oregon.  Also, they do not have pre-staged equipment that meets the planning standards for this geographic area.

No.  The MFSA Plan’s area of coverage includes the Columbia River from three miles beyond the mouth up to the I-205 bridge and the Willamette River from its confluence with the Columbia up to the Willamette Falls.

Yes.  Any spill requires plan activation.  Even when no product reaches water but a significant threat of a spill exists state laws require may a vessel’s plan be activated. 

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All rights reserved

Contact Information:

Maritime Fire & Safety Association

200 SW Market St., Ste 190, Portland, OR 97201

Call (503) 228-4361 | Email info@mfsa.com