What to do in the case of an oil spill

Report a Spill

  1. Report the incident
  2. Provide all reasonable cooperation and assistance requested by a government official in connection with removal activities
  3. Comply with a clean-up order issued by an appropriate governmental official
  4. Seek legal council if you have questions about your rights

A responsible party should expect investigations from many sources—both state and federal.

In the event of a marine casualty, the USCG investigates to determine the cause of the accident. The USCG may also conduct a personnel investigation to determine whether a U.S. licensed individual contributed to the accident.

National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) may investigate a major marine casualty in the case of loss of 6 or more lives; loss of vessel of 100 or more gross tons; $500,000 or more of property damage; or serious threat to life, property, or the environment due to a spill. The NTSB attempts to determine the probable cause and issues a report of that determination.

These other government agencies may also investigate oil spills:

  • Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
  • Department of Justice (DOJ)
  • Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)
  • Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)
  • Flag states
  • State and local agencies, including police, the local district attorney and the attorney general.
  • Responsible party internal investigations, including National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association Natural Resource Damage Assessment (NRDA) investigations.
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