OPA 90 - Limits of Liability Increased

July 2009

PDF Version

Effective 31 July 2009 the Coast Guard is increasing the limits of liability under the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 (OPA 90), for vessels and deepwater ports subject to the Deepwater Port Act of 1974, to reflect significant increases in the Consumer Price Index (CPI). This interim rule also establishes the methodology the Coast Guard uses to adjust OPA 90 limits of liability for inflation, including the frequency with which such adjustments may be made. The inflation adjustments to the limits of liability are required by OPA 90 to preserve the deterrent effect and polluter-pays principle embodied in the OPA 90 liability provisions. Lastly, this interim rule makes minor amendments to clarify the applicability of the OPA 90 single-hull tank vessel limits of liability. Because the single-hull tank vessel amendments were not previously discussed in the notice of proposed rulemaking (hereafter the CPI NPRM), the Coast Guard is inviting additional public comment on this issue.

The regulations provide for the limits to be reviewed every three years with a view to increase dependant on the degree of inflation in the intervening period. There is also a discretion to increase the limits within the three year period if the increase in inflation demands this. (Specified formulae are used to determine this.)

Source category

Previous limit of liability

New limit of liability

a) Vessels:

 

 

(1) For an oil cargo tank vessel greater than 3,000 gross tons with a single hull, including a single- hull tank vessel fitted with double sides only or a double bottom only.

The greater of $3,000 per gross ton or $22,000,000.

The greater of $3,200 per gross ton or $23,496,000

(2) For a tank vessel greater than 3,000 gross tons, other than a vessel referred to in (a)(1).

The greater of $1,900 per gross ton or $16,000,000.

The greater of $2,000 per gross  ton or $17,088,000.

(3) For an oil cargo tank vessel less than or equal to 3,000 gross tons with a single hull, including a single-hull tank vessel fitted with double sides only or a double bottom only. 

The greater of $3,000 per gross ton or $6,000,000.

The greater of $3,200 per gross ton or $6,408,000.

(4) For a tank vessel less than or equal to 3,000 gross tons, other than a vessel referred to in (3).

The greater of $1,900 per gross ton or $4,000,000.

The greater of $2,000 per gross ton or $4,272,000.

(5) For any other vessel*

The greater of $950 per gross ton or $800,000.

The greater of $1,000 per gross ton or $854,400.

(b) Deepwater Ports:

 

 

(1) For a Deepwater Port,other than a Deepwater Port with a limit of liability established by regulation under 33 U.S.C. 2704(d)(2).

$350,000,000.

$373,800,000.

2) For the Louisiana Offshore Oil Port (LOOP).

$62,000,000.

$87,606,000.

* these are tank vessels, regardless of hull construction, that do not carry oil as cargo, such as chemical tank vessels.

The interim rule is effective 31 July 2009. Comments and related material must be submitted on or before 31 August 2009. Comments identified by docket number USCG-2008-0007 can be submitted using any one of the following methods:

(1) Federal eRulemaking Portal: www.regulations.gov 
(2) Fax: 202-493-2251.
(3) Mail: Docket Management Facility (M-30), U.S. Department of Transportation, West Building Ground Floor, Room W12-140, 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE., Washington, DC 20590-0001.
(4) Hand delivery: Same as mail address above, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays. The telephone number is 202-366-9329.  

For further details and background information see the USCG interim ruling published in the US Federal Register of 1 July 2009: http://edocket.access.gpo.gov/2009/E9-15563.htm