Oil Pollution Act of 1990

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Definition of 'Oil Pollution Act of 1990'

The Oil Pollution Act of 1990 (OPA 90) is a United States federal law that was enacted in response to the Exxon Valdez oil spill. The law was designed to prevent and respond to oil spills, and to provide for liability and compensation for damages caused by oil spills.

OPA 90 established a number of new requirements for oil tankers and other vessels that transport oil. These requirements include:

* Vessels must be equipped with spill prevention and response equipment.
* Vessels must have a spill response plan in place.
* Vessels must be inspected regularly.
* Vessels must be certified by the U.S. Coast Guard.

OPA 90 also established a new liability regime for oil spills. Under this regime, the owner or operator of a vessel that causes an oil spill is liable for the costs of cleaning up the spill, as well as for damages to natural resources and private property.

OPA 90 has been credited with reducing the number of oil spills in the United States. However, the law has also been criticized for being too complex and for imposing too much liability on vessel owners and operators.

In 2010, the Deepwater Horizon oil spill highlighted some of the challenges of implementing OPA 90. The spill, which was caused by a blowout on an offshore drilling rig, resulted in the release of millions of barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico. The spill caused extensive damage to the environment and to the fishing and tourism industries in the Gulf region.

The Deepwater Horizon spill also raised questions about the adequacy of OPA 90's liability regime. The owner of the drilling rig, BP, was ultimately responsible for the costs of cleaning up the spill. However, BP's liability was capped at $75 million. This cap was far below the actual cost of cleaning up the spill, which is estimated to have been in the billions of dollars.

In the wake of the Deepwater Horizon spill, Congress passed the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund Reform Act of 2010. This law increased the liability cap for oil spills from $75 million to $134 million. The law also made a number of other changes to OPA 90, including:

* Expanding the definition of "oil" to include natural gas liquids.
* Increasing the frequency of inspections for oil tankers.
* Requiring oil companies to submit spill response plans to the U.S. Coast Guard.

The Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund Reform Act of 2010 was a significant step in the effort to improve OPA 90. However, there is still more that can be done to prevent and respond to oil spills. By continuing to work together, we can make the waters of the United States safer for everyone.

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