Oil Spill Response Federal Regulatory Updates

Oil Spill Response Planning: Looking Forward to 2018

January 30th, 2018

Antea Group has been monitoring the development of regulations from the federal government as well as states around the country regarding regulations requiring railroads to write oil spill response plans (OSRPs) when they are transporting crude oil or other flammable materials. While there are some state revisions looming on the horizon, 2018 promises to be a major year of change for OSRPs at the federal level. We thought now might be a good time to look ahead and start planning for regulatory changes coming down the pike -- or the track -- as the case may be.

Rollout of the Federal OSRP Regulations from PHMSA

The latest estimate from the US Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) is that the final rollout of their new OSRPs requirements will happen in April 2018. When last consulted PHMSA was not able to tell Antea Group exactly what the compliance deadline would be in the final version of the rule, but they expected a 90- to 180-day deadline for the development of draft OSRPs. If that is the case, we would expect that railroads would need to have drafts developed by October 2018 at the latest. Antea Group will continue to monitor the promulgation of the PHMSA regulations and help our clients understand the final rule when it is rolled out this year.

California Notice of Proposed Rulemaking

Since 2015 the State of California has been operating under emergency rules for the development of its state-level OSRPs. In December 2017, the Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Office of Spill Prevention and Response sent out notification that it intends to finalize the rules this year. Two hearings will be held in Sacramento and Bakersfield this February on the proposed final rule. While Antea Group’s initial review of the draft final rule does not indicate any major changes from the emergency rules promulgated in 2015, we will participate in the hearings and monitor the developments for any alterations that could affect the status of our client’s OSRPs.

Don’t Forget Your Other Spill Plans

In the midst of these updates on regulations regarding crude oil in transportation, make sure to check the status of your spill prevention, control, and countermeasure (SPCC) plans as well as your facility response plans (FRPs). Keep in mind that they need to be reviewed 1) when there is a change in regulated equipment at your facility or 2) at least every 5-years. If you have a 5-year old plan that was certified by a professional engineer, please remember that as long as your facility has not changed you can re-certify it yourself rather than having to hire someone to redo that plan. Our team of experienced railroad engineering staff can help if you need an SPCC update. 

Local Knowledge, National Support

No matter where you are in the country, Antea Group’s network of local offices can lend support. Our railroad experts work in a variety of states across the country, are always up-to-date on the latest developments in both federal and state regulations. 

Visit our railroad industry page to learn more about how we can support your facility's compliance in 2018 and beyond.

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