Last week, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (“CDFW”) Office of Spill Prevention and Response (“OSPR”) issued notice that it proposes to add ten new regulations (sections 830.1 through 830.11 to Title 14 of the California Code of Regulations) to implement statutory changes resulting from Assembly Bill (“AB”) 1197.  AB 1197 establishes criteria and a process for the certification of oil spill management teams.

Assembly Bill 1197 was enacted in 2017 to enable the Administrator of the Office of Spill Prevention and Response to have direct regulatory oversight over spill management teams (“SMTs”), by classifying their capabilities and evaluating their performance through inspections, exercises, or by other means.

The proposed new regulations will build on the current oil spill response organization ratings requirements and will generally:

  • Clarify what a “team” is comprised of;
  • Establish criteria for SMTs to become certified based on the SMT’s capacity to respond to and manage spills effectively;
  • Establish criteria for SMTs to successfully accomplish objectives of announced and unannounced exercises;
  • Establish timeframes for designated personnel to arrive on-scene;
  • Establish training requirements;
  • Provide for an application process to commence the certification process.

OSPR states that the proposed regulations will provide a direct mechanism for evaluating SMTs’ ability to respond to spills and ensure that SMTs are trained to be ready for fast, effective response and management of oil spills.

For consistency, OSPR also proposes corresponding amendments to other regulations governing OSPR that would harmonize its entire regulatory regime with the new requirements it is proposing.  These changes include: General Definitions and Abbreviations (14 CCR 790); Tank Vessel and Marine Facility Oil Spill Contingency Plans (14 CCR 815.05 – 818.03); Nontank Vessel Oil Spill Contingency Plans (14 CCR 825.05 – 827.02); and Inland Facility Oil Spill Contingency Plans (14 CCR 817.04).

OSPR is currently accepting written comments on the proposed, new regulations.  The comment period closes on Monday, September 14, 2020 at 11:59 p.m. (PST).