Person in Charge (PIC) of Fuel Transfer: A Guide to Federal Regulations

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Part Number:Moxie14

Length: 22 Min.
Year Produced:2001
A robust Maritime Transportation Industry helps move personnel, machinery, coal, oil, and chemicals, and other goods, from where they are, to where they need to be. They have been entrusted with protecting the environment, as they go about conducting their vital business. Responsible companies take this obligation seriously. Many industry companies have in their mission statements, or codes of conduct, firm wording that reflects a strong commitment to safety and protecting the environment.

But there are risks inherent in moving vessels, supplies, personnel, and tons of cargo through miles and miles of water. The boats and barges that do the work have to be fueled. Nothing is fail-safe, and mishaps can occur. Everyone is usually aware of a big cargo spill of crude oil, where millions of gallons of product are released. The images are clear.

A spill resulting from a vessel fuel transfer is not that type of spill, and usually nowhere near that magnitude. The median volume for fuel transfer spills is about 10 gallons, and 25% of fuel transfer spills are 1 gallon or less.

The environmental impact of a fuel transfer spill is not as obvious as that of a big cargo spill of crude oil. Refined products are more easily dispersed in water. With fuel transfer spills, there’s often not much to see, except maybe a sheen. However, the environment is affected anytime petroleum products hit the water, and a little goes a long way. A quart of oil can produce a slick a couple of acres in size.

Response Team Actions

* Assure source is secure
* Contain the spill
* See that removal actions are initiated

Cleanup Costs

* Size, Type, and Physical Location of the Spill
* Equipment and Personnel Needs
* Amount of Damage

The Federal Water Pollution Control Act is the primary law the Coast Guard uses for oil spills and certain hazardous material releases.

Usually spills result in civil penalties, although criminal actions can be taken for intentional spills, or failure to notify the Coast Guard. If the spill is caused by the negligence of a mariner who has a Coast Guard issued license, that mariner could be subject to having his license revoked.

Fines vary greatly. Considerations include the amount of the spill, frequency of past violations, and the cooperation provided by the responsible party.

The 11 million gallon crude oil spill in Alaska in 1989, brought about a public outcry, and a new public awareness of all spills.

The government responded with the Oil Pollution Act of 1990, which re-affirmed, consolidated, and strengthened in-place regulations, and assigned new liability for spills. The companies whose vessels or facilities were responsible for product entering the marine environment, were financially responsible for the cleanup. OPA 90 also called for vessel and facility spill response plans.

Industry responded with improved operational and safety procedures, independent auditing, and spill prevention measures, that in some cases exceeded government regulations. Industry sponsored initiatives, such as the American Waterways Operators’ Responsible Carrier Program, the International Maritime Organization’s International Safety Management Code, and others, set high standards for environmental protection.

The liability and cleanup provisions of The Oil Pollution Act of 1990 are important. When a spill occurs, swift action is essential, but this is an after the fact remedy. Money and a conscientious effort can’t insure the success of a cleanup operation.

A Person in Charge of Fuel Transfer, or PIC, is qualified to be named as such by virtue of:

* A US Coast Guard license as a deck or engine officer
* An Operator or Master of Towing Vessels license
* A certified tankerman’s document
* Be designated, Person in Charge

Federal Regulations provide for the designation of a Person in Charge of Fuel Transfer for facilities, (33CFR154.710), and for vessels with a capacity of 250 barrels or more of oil, including uninspected towing vessels, (33CFR155.700).

A designated Person in Charge of Fuel Transfer will be given a letter of designation. This letter also attests to sufficient formal training to be able to safely and adequately carry out the duties and responsibilities of the Person in Charge. The letter of designation should be carried by a designated PIC, or be immediately available aboard the vessel, or at the facility. Wallet cards, which may be carried in place of the letter, are sometimes issued to designated PIC’s. The PIC’s name may also appear, with the names of other authorized Persons in Charge, on a list that is immediately available...

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