What is the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 (OPA)?

August 11, 2016

The Oil Pollution Act of 1990 (OPA) was legislation introduced by the United States Congress that aimed to prevent oil spills, ensure clean up, restore environments damaged by spills and strengthened the Environmental Protection Agency’s powers to prevent and respond to spills. In this law, oil storage facilities and vessels must submit to the US government their plans to responding to large spills should they happen. At the same time, the OPA also sets up a trust fund supplied from taxes on oil to clean up spills when the party responsible is unable or unwilling to do so themselves.

The OPA was introduced in response to a major spill by the former Exxon Corporation in 1989. On 24 March 1989, the Exxon Corporation tanker ship MT Exxon Valdez ran into Prince William Sound’s Bligh Reef and spilled an estimated 11 to 30 million gallons of crude oil along the Alaskan coast.The initial response by both Exxon and the Ayeska Pipeline Company were not enough to contain the mess and a storm led to 1,000 miles of Alaskan coastline to be contaminated.

Other Sources

Puri, Captain Sandeep S. L. “How the OPA(Oil Pollution Act)of 1990 was passed and came into force.” Linkedin. https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/how-opaoil-petroleum-actof-1990-passed-came-force-s-l-puri. Accessed August 11, 2016

Taylor, Alan. “The Exxon Velez Oil Spill: 25 Years Ago Today.” The Atlantic. http://www.theatlantic.com/photo/2014/03/the-exxon-valdez-oil-spill-25-years-ago-today/100703/. Accessed August 15, 2016.

United States Environment Protection Agency. “Summary of the Oil Pollution Act.” EPA. https://www.epa.gov/laws-regulations/summary-oil-pollution-act. Accessed August 11, 2016.