The vastness of the ocean can give the impression that it is a system that can handle whatever humans do to it. It is, however, an environment that is sensitive to the activities of modern industry. Pollution from marine spills is one of the most harmful threats facing the ocean today. Knowing the proper steps to take in the event of a spill can reduce damages, save crew lives and lower the company liabilities.
Emergency Plan Procedures
Every vessel is required to have either a Shipboard Oil Pollution Emergency Plan or a Shipboard Marine Pollution Emergency Plan if they weigh 400 gross tons or more. These plans provide guidelines for how to handle spills. Ensure that all crew members are trained in what to do in the event the plans need to be activated. A rapid marine spill response is critical to protecting your company and crew as well as the ocean ecosystem.
Vessels carrying oil or hazardous materials are expected to contact the proper authorities, including local, state and federal agencies when a spill occurs that meets established rules for reporting. The National Response Center is the quickest point of contact for the federal government. The Environmental Protection Agency sets the guidelines for when oil spills need to be reported, while the Superfund Reportable Quantities establishes the requirements for when to report hazardous substance spills.