The Oil Pollution Preparedness, Response and Co-operation Convention (OPRC 90) came into effect in 1990. Since this date, 52 of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) member states have signed to the convention, and recently the United Kingdom has developed legislation to implement the intent of the convention in that country. The convention requires a number of steps to enhance the preparedness of a country for an oil spill incident. The primary requirements are a focal point within the country, a national contingency plan, cooperation—notification between countries and response resources in-country. The United Kingdom developed legislation, the Merchant Shipping (Oil Pollution Preparedness, Response and Cooperation Convention) Regulations, which became effective on August 15, 1998, although there was a grace period of 1 year before becoming effective on August 15, 1999. This placed a requirement on ports, harbors, and oil-handling facilities to prepare and submit a oil spill response contingency plan to the U.K. government. Within the plan, there is a requirement for the port, harbor, or oil-handling facility to either have in-house or contracted “Tier II” resources.

A number of lessons can be drawn from the experience of OPRC 90 implementation in the United Kingdom, and there are lessons for the ports, the Tier II provider, and also for the regulator. The ports themselves had additional requirements placed on their already stretched resources. Industry needed to understand the potential market and plan their investment accordingly. The government agencies, again with limited resources, were tasked with the development of compliance guidelines and administering their internal review. The consultation process with statutory consultees proved a bottleneck in the planning process.

The opinions and views expressed in this paper are solely those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of any other party.

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