Proceedings Of The Marine

SPR 2015

Proceedings magazine is a communication tool for the Coast Guard's Marine Safety & Security Council. Each quarterly magazine focuses on a specific theme of interest to the marine industry.

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32 Proceedings Spring 2015 www.uscg.mil/proceedings Today's debate about the government's size and what ser- vices it should provide has become a heated topic. It wasn't so different in the late 1960s and early 1970s, when the nation established a goal to eliminate man-made water pollution. The Clean Water Act The Federal Water Pollution Control Act of 1972, also known as the Clean Water Act, was part of a fervent movement, since the popular view was that oil pollution renders public beaches unft for bathing, creates fre hazards around har- bors and docks, and harms fsheries. Notable oil spills of the time, including those that resulted from the Torrey Canyon shipwreck in 1968 and the Argo Merchant sinking in 1976, engendered Coast Guard oil spill response innovations such as the airborne oil spill surveil- lance system, the air-deliverable anti-pollution transfer sys- tem, the fast-delivery sled system, and the open water oil containment and recovery system. The Coast Guard National Strike Force (NSF), formed in 1973, beneftted from all of this newly developed oil spill response equipment. During the next decade, however, a tug-of-war played out between industry and the govern- ment. Throughout the late 1970s and 1980s, as the Coast Guard expanded its oil spill response program, industry was developing an oil spill response capability of its own. A Game-Changer This would be resolved in the aftermath of the Exxon Valdez, through a series of legislative actions and industry's com- mitment to be part of the solution. For example, the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 (OPA 90) empha- sized the concept that "the polluter pays" and mandated that industry maintain oil spill response equipment ade- quate to address a worst-case discharge, which sent a clear signal that the responsibility for responding to a spill was squarely on the shoulders of the spiller. Although industry was required to fll the gaps in oil spill response capability, this is easier said than done. What about "mystery spills" where it is diffcult or impossible to deter- mine the responsible party, or if the "responsible party" is a hurricane or other natural disaster? Additionally, major spills after the Exxon Valdez highlighted the need for the Coast Guard to maintain a frst-response mechanical recov- ery capability at the port level, while the industry was build- ing its capacity. For these and myriad other eventualities, USCG marine environmental protection program managers and the National Strike Force remained committed to the oil spill response mission, and the Coast Guard Research and Devel- opment Center continued to develop specialized equipment. VOSS and SORS One option was to equip Coast Guard buoy tenders with oil spill recovery capability, so that they can serve as vessels of opportunity for spill response in their operating areas. This initiative led to the vessel of opportunity skimming system (VOSS) and spilled oil recovery system (SORS). The next development to follow as a result of the Oil Pollu- tion Act, was the U.S. Coast Guard's initiative to build the Federalized and Privatized Oil Spill Response Accountability through oil spill response capability. by LT JonAtHAn cooPer Chief Marine Environmental Preparedness Department National Strike Force Coordination Center lt MicHAel clAuSen Supervisor U.S. Coast Guard Marine Safety Detachment Panama City Mr. ricHArd gAudioSi President Delaware Bay and River Cooperative Oil Spill Response

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