This recently published IPIECA-OGP good practice guidance updates and replaces the long-standing IPIECA oil spill report series on contingency planning for oil spills on water. It provides a comprehensive and modern tool for designing an appropriate and justified spill response capability that is in compliance with the regulatory framework and commensurate with the oil spill risks of an organization. The guidance seeks to align industry practices, inform stakeholders, and serve as a communication tool to promote awareness and education. It presents an integrated approach to contingency planning, which stresses the importance of all the various inputs and considerations, and how they interconnect.

The planning process is illustrated in nine steps. To begin, the assets and operations to be included in the planning scope should be clearly defined. Next, a thorough review of the regulatory framework is required, along with a determination of the relevant stakeholders and a plan for their involvement, as appropriate. The process continues with a structured approach for designing a capability specific to the unique needs of an organization, and the jurisdiction and community within which it operates. Planners proceed by assessing the risks within the planning scope and selecting representative scenarios. The scenarios are then analyzed to determine a tiered response capability. Following this, planners should compile the information into effective plans and thorough documentation. As the response capability is implemented, it should be verified to confirm it is achievable and meets the desired level of preparedness. Lastly, a reliable system of review and maintenance will ensure the planning remains relevant and appropriate to the level of risk as an organization matures or evolves. This is a cyclical process that should remain active over the lifetime of an operation.

The degree of complexity involved will greatly depend on the type of operation, local conditions, and environmental and socio-economic sensitivities. However, the overall objective of contingency planning will always be to develop a capability to effectively react to a spill and sustain an ongoing response, which is proportionate to the risk. This capability requires suitable equipment, sufficient logistics, and competent, trained responders supported by proven, exercised plans.

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Author notes

CONTACT: Lauren Glushik (formerly of Trellis ENV, LLC) +1 970-761-0111 - Currently: Spill Prevention, Preparedness and Response Program Washington State Department of Ecology - Lauren.Glushik@ecy.wa.gov +1 360-407-6396