In august 1990, the Oil Pollution Act (OPA) was assigned into law, primarily to respond to the increasing public concern with respect to the Exxon Valdez incident. The OPA has improved the nation’s capability to respond and prevent oil spills through the establishment of provisions that give an expansion to the federal government’s ability, and also provide the money and the essential resources to the response of oil spills (Farrell, 2011).
S1002(a)Provides that a responsible party for which a facility or vessel of oil is discharged, or which poses substantial threat of a discharge, is held liable for: i) specified damages as a resulting of the discharged oil, and ii) carry the costs incurred by the national Contingency Plan (NCP).
S1002(d) provides that if a responsible party would establish that the removal of damages and costs resulting from an incident were due to an act or omission by a third party, then the third party is held liable accountable for such damages and costs.
The effectiveness of OPA in containing major oil spills
The OPA has led to creation of the national Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund, which is set to provide up to a million dollars per spill incident. Moreover, the OPA has instituted new requirements for the contingency planning both by the industry and the government (Landau, 2011). The expansion of the National Oil and Hazardous Substance Pollution Contingency Plan (NCP) has been carried in three very efficient tiered approach: first, the federal government should give directives to all the private and the public response efforts towards certain types of spill events. Secondly, is the area committees which compose of the state, federal and the local government officials to develop detailed, location-specific Area Contingency Plans; and the last tier entailing the operators and owners of the specific facilities and the vessels which pose severe threat to the environment to ensure that they prepare their own Facility Response Plans.
Additionally, OPA has created efficiency in managing spill-over effect of oil by increasing the penalties for the regulatory noncompliance, further broadened the enforcement and response authorities of the Federal government, and they have preserved the State authority in the establishment of the laws governing oil spill prevention and response.