The devastating impact of an oil spill or oil pollution on waterways has been evidenced through incidents like the explosion on the Deepwater Horizons drilling platform. However, oil rigs aren’t the only threats to national and international waterways.
The Threat of Small or Large Vessels
The United States Coast Guard, under the National Pollution Funds Center, monitors vessels of different sizes for the potential concern of oil pollution. The financial cost to clean up from a spill has been established as the responsibility of the vessel owner/operator. To ensure these funds may be readily available in an incident, a Certificate of Financial Responsibility must be filed with Coast Guard before traversing U.S. or coastal waterways. Recent proposals extend this coverage to any tank vessel weighing more than 100 gross tons.
The Preservation of the Environment
The ECOFR has been used as a deterrent for vessel operators that are tempted to release (either knowingly or not) toxic oil into the ocean. The liability coverage represents good stewardship of the environment, but it also prevents citizens and government entities from paying for a problem caused by a large shipping company, onshore facility, or deep water port.
The Application Process
It is relatively easy to fill out an application for a certificate, but operators or owners need to have the financial resources in place to prove fiscal responsibility. This can be done through personal funds or insurance coverage.