U.S. Code of Federal Regulations

Regulations most recently checked for updates: Jun 02, 2023

§ 300.305 - Phase II—Preliminary assessment and initiation of action.

(a) The OSC is responsible for promptly initiating a preliminary assessment.

(b) The preliminary assessment shall be conducted using available information, supplemented where necessary and possible by an on-scene inspection. The OSC shall undertake actions to:

(1) Evaluate the magnitude and severity of the discharge or threat to public health or welfare of the United States or the environment;

(2) Assess the feasibility of removal; and

(3) To the extent practicable, identify potentially responsible parties.

(c) Where practicable, the framework for the response management structure is a system (e.g., a unified command system), that brings together the functions of the federal government, the state government, and the responsible party to achieve an effective and efficient response, where the OSC maintains authority.

(d) Except in a case when the OSC is required to direct the response to a discharge that may pose a substantial threat to the public health or welfare of the United States (including but not limited to fish, shellfish, wildlife, other natural resources, and the public and private beaches and shorelines of the United States), the OSC may allow the responsible party to voluntarily and promptly perform removal actions, provided the OSC determines such actions will ensure an effective and immediate removal of the discharge or mitigation or prevention of a substantial threat of a discharge. If the responsible party does conduct the removal, the OSC shall ensure adequate surveillance over whatever actions are initiated. If effective actions are not being taken to eliminate the threat, or if removal is not being properly done, the OSC should, to the extent practicable under the circumstances, so advise the responsible party. If the responsible party does not respond properly the OSC shall take appropriate response actions and should notify the responsible party of the potential liability for federal response costs incurred by the OSC pursuant to the OPA and CWA. Where practicable, continuing efforts should be made to encourage response by responsible parties.

(1) In carrying out a response under this section, the OSC may:

(i) Remove or arrange for the removal of a discharge, and mitigate or prevent a substantial threat of a discharge, at any time;

(ii) Direct or monitor all federal, state, and private actions to remove a discharge; and

(iii) Remove and, if necessary, destroy a vessel discharging, or threatening to discharge, by whatever means are available.

(2) If the discharge results in a substantial threat to the public health or welfare of the United States (including, but not limited to fish, shellfish, wildlife, other natural resources, and the public and private beaches and shorelines of the United States), the OSC must direct all response efforts, as provided in § 300.322(b) of this part. The OSC should declare as expeditiously as practicable to spill response participants that the federal government will direct the response. The OSC may act without regard to any other provision of the law governing contracting procedures or employment of personnel by the federal government in removing or arranging for the removal of such a discharge.

(e) The OSC shall ensure that the natural resource trustees are promptly notified in the event of any discharge of oil, to the maximum extent practicable as provided in the Fish and Wildlife and Sensitive Environments Plan annex to the ACP for the area in which the discharge occurs. The OSC and the trustees shall coordinate assessments, evaluations, investigations, and planning with respect to appropriate removal actions. The OSC shall consult with the affected trustees on the appropriate removal action to be taken. The trustees will provide timely advice concerning recommended actions with regard to trustee resources potentially affected. The trustees also will assure that the OSC is informed of their activities in natural resource damage assessment that may affect response operations. The trustees shall assure, through the lead administrative trustee, that all data from the natural resource damage assessment activities that may support more effective operational decisions are provided in a timely manner to the OSC. When circumstances permit, the OSC shall share the use of non-monetary response resources (i.e., personnel and equipment) with the trustees, provided trustee activities do not interfere with response actions. The lead administrative trustee facilitates effective and efficient communication between the OSC and the other trustees during response operations and is responsible for applying to the OSC for non-monetary federal response resources on behalf of all trustees. The lead administrative trustee is also responsible for applying to the NPFC for funding for initiation of damage assessment for injuries to natural resources.