OPA-90 Background & History | DONJON-SMIT

History of the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 (OPA-90)

The Oil Pollution Act (101 H.R.1465, P.L. 101-380 [1]) was passed by the United States Congress to prevent further oil spills from occurring in the United States.  It stated that:

"A company cannot ship oil into the United States until it presents a plan to prevent spills that may occur. It must also have a detailed containment and cleanup plan in case of an oil spill emergency."

OPA-90 was largely in response to public concern following the Exxon Valdez incident.  OPA-90's intention was to  improved the nation's ability to prevent and respond to oil spills by establishing provisions that expand the federal government's ability, and provide the money and resources necessary, to respond to oil spills.

The grounding of the Exxon Valdez in Prince William Sound, Alaska, in 1989 was a severe event for the international shipping community.  Congress passed the Oil Pollution Act 1990 - legislation with a strong deterrent theme.  There are many elements to OPA-90, including rquirements for double hulled tankers.  The owners and operators of tank vessels are required to establish and maintain Vessel Response Plans (VRPs) and appoint Qualified Individuals (QIs) and contract-recognized Oil Spill Response Organizations (OSROs).