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Web Alert: Government initiated unannounced oil spill response exercises to take place in Captain of the Port of New Orleans Zone

08 November 2012

The Managers understand that an oil spill response drill is scheduled to be held imminently in the Captain of the Port of New Orleans Zone. The Captain of the Port intends to implement Government Initiated Unannounced Exercises (GIUE), in conjunction with the National Preparedness for Response Exercise Program (NPREP) Guidelines. These exercises will apply to all Vessel Response Plan (VRP) holders that are subject to GIUEs mandated by OPA-90.

This only applies to tankers and all tanker members with ships calling in the Mississippi River should take notice and be prepared to participate in the exercise in accordance with their VRP.

This exercise program is mandated by the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 and represents minimum guidelines for ensuring overall preparedness in case of an oil spill within the response community. The exercise will be coordinated by the four federal agencies with responsibility for pollution response preparedness –The U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), and Department of Interior’s Bureau of Safety and environmental Enforcement (BSEE).

Members should note that the exercise will be initiated without prior notice and will begin when a Coast Guard representative arrives on-scene and presents a scenario. The exercise will involve responding to an average most probable discharge (AMPD) scenario and will require equipment deployment to respond to the spill scenario. The exercise is pass/fail, and the Coast Guard representative will note any necessary follow-up actions immediately following the exercise. The Master of the vessel must ensure that all applicable company safety standards are followed and communicated to the Coast Guard representative.  Vessels that are directed to participate in the response exercise are required to participate and are liable for all related expenses. Vessels must retain appropriate post exercise documentation for three years.

All VRP holders subject to GIUEs mandated by OPA-90 that are currently visiting or will travel to the Captain of the Port of New Orleans Zone should take note of the above and prepare accordingly. Please see the attached Marine Safety Information Bulletin issued by the U.S. Coast Guard for more information regarding the GIUE.