How to Manage an Oil Spill at a Marina

How to Manage an Oil Spill at a Marina

Managing oil spills requires a combination of technical knowledge, quick thinking, and immediate action. If your clients have ever had to deal with spills before, they already know what a terrible inconvenience they can be. They can hinder operations, discourage customers, and, worse, pose a serious safety hazard.

Hopefully, your clients have marina insurance to help them handle the legal and financial consequences of an oil spill. This is an essential requirement for marina owners, and you should advise them on how to get the proper coverage for such occurrences.

But even with marina insurance, your clients will have to take preemptive action to avoid these incidents from happening in the first place. And in the worst-case scenario, when an oil spill does occur, they need to have a procedure for dealing with the problem quickly and efficiently.

Training marina personnel on dealing with oil spills

Training marina personnel is arguably the most important aspect of developing an appropriate oil spill response system. Your clients should choose the most qualified workers to train in spill prevention and fueling, as well as cleanup and containment procedures. Those assigned to these duties should also be taught how to document oil spill-related incidents properly.

Among the measures that your clients could implement are:

  1. Perform periodic reviews of the SPCC Plan and response procedures
  2. Train employees on containment processes
  3. Hold emergency response drills periodically
  4. Coordinate with the Coast Guard and fire department to hold spill response demonstrations on-site

All personnel assigned to oil spill response duties need to have Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response Standard (HAZWOPER) training certification. Depending on their level of responsibility, they need to be trained to notify authorities in the event of a spill, perform protective action, or be directly involved in containment and cleanup procedures.

Investing in oil spill response equipment

Investing in state-of-the-art response equipment is another essential aspect of oil spill management. Even if your marina clients have the best-trained staff on standby, all their skills and knowledge will be useless if they don’t have the necessary equipment to deal with an oil-related incident.

Here are some equipment-related suggestions that your clients could implement in their marinas:

  1. Ensure the availability of enough equipment to deal with the biggest spills and the worst-case scenarios.
  2. Invest in enough booms to contain the largest vessel docked at the marina. Your clients can determine how many booms they need by multiplying the length of the largest boat by a factor of three.
  3. Devise a procedure for disposing of spill response materials in conformance with state and federal laws.

Proper storage of oil spill response equipment

Storing the equipment properly is just as important as having it on the premises. Your client’s oil spill response team should be able to grab the equipment and deal with the problem at a moment’s notice. Any hesitation caused by the inability to access the equipment could lead to disaster. Have your client consider the following storage tips:

  1. All response equipment should be kept securely but in easily accessible locations. Possible storage locations include the fuel dock, launch ports, and dry stack areas.
  2. Consider storing a smaller set of essential equipment at fuel receiving and dispensing areas. However, this should not preclude having the other response equipment easily accessible nearby.
  3. The equipment should be labeled clearly.
  4. Include instructions for using the more specialized equipment, especially pads and booms.
  5. It might be best to keep the storage container unlocked during high-risk periods to make it even more readily accessible to the oil spill response team,
  6. Check the inventory periodically to ensure that there are always enough oil spill response materials and equipment on hand.

Reporting oil spills

Make sure your client knows the importance of reporting oil spills. In addition to any state requirements, they will also have to report all incidents to the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) National Response Center. The marina’s SPCC Plan also includes information on other authorities your clients should contact when an oil spill occurs.

Explain to your client that reporting an oil spill does not make the marina’s owners and staff legally liable for the incident. They will also not be automatically subjected to penalties before a thorough investigation is completed.

That being said, your clients are legally obligated to report spills to the USGS National Response Center. Failure to do so will almost certainly result in civil consequences.

About Merrimac Marine Insurance

At Merrimac Marine, we are dedicated to providing insurance for the marine industry to protect your clients’ business and assets. For more information about our products and programs, contact our specialists today at (800) 681-1998.