In 1989, what was then, the worst oil spill in history took place in the Alaskan water area. The OPA 90 Regulations, which stands for the Oil Pollution Act of 1990, was spurred on by the horrible spill in the Alaskan area.
What this bill is meant to do is to protect the environment, population, and the corporation all at once. It protects the environment by ensuring that there is a well documented example of how a company will react in the case of a spill. It protects the population by making sure the company does what it needs to do. And it protects the environment by making sure that a spill is deal with properly and that impact to areas such as fisheries will be contained.
What the act states is that any oil company, meaning ship or oil rig, is liable for the costs and damages resulting from an accident when oil is spilled into the ocean water, shorelines, or in an area that is popular for fisheries. This is the first act that was created for establishing liability on a corporation, due to damages to resources, injuries and loss of income for people who fish those areas.
When the bill was written it put a limit of liability to 75 million dollars, which means that all the company would have to pay out in the event of any spill would be that amount, however, due to the spill in 2010 in the Gulf of Mexico, it was attempted to be raised up to 10 billion dollars due to the sizable amount that is being spilled in that location. That attempt was blocked by both political sides because there are other wells in that area that need to be protected.
All companies must have a prevention plan for any spills, and in case of any spills, they must also have a clean up plan as well. However, if the spill is from an act of God, war, or from another form of a third party they are not responsible for the clean up. The catch with this stipulation is that the party has to be fully cooperative with the effort of releasing information on how it happened, and any records that the government may request in order to get the spill cleaned up. If they do not cooperate, they could end up being liable for all the damages.
In case the corporation is responsible is not able to clean up the mess, there is a tiny tax that all consumers pay when they go and get gasoline at the stations. It is a tiny tax that goes into a trust fund for situations that occurs when the party is unable to clean up the mess. This fund is titled the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund. The maximum amount that can be paid out of that fund is $ 1 billion dollars for one single accident and $ 500 million for the claims with the natural resources assessment.