California has increased the criminal penalties for oil spill-related offences. From 1 January 2021, fines will be up to US$1M per day, every day
On 24 September 2020, the governor of California approved an act to amend Section 8670.64 of the Government Code, known as the Lempert-Keene-Seastrand Oil Spill Prevention and Response Act. This requires the administrator for oil spill response, acting at the direction of the Governor, to implement activities relating to oil spill response, including emergency drills and preparedness, and oil spill containment and clean-up.
It also makes it a felony to cause a spill in the waters of California or fail to clean up or stop the spill. The current level of fines range from US$5,000 per day to a maximum of US$500,000 per day.
Under the amendment, a person convicted of violating any of the above prohibited acts shall be subjected to a fine ranging from US$10,000 to US$1,000,000 for each violation, with each day or partial day of a violation being considered a separate violation.
In addition, the legislation allows the court to impose a further US$1,000 fine per gallon of oil spilt in excess of 1,000 gallons.
There are civil laws which can also include fines in the punishment and the possibility of jail time for those found to be guilty of allowing the spill. In each case, the liability would be determined on the basis that the violator knowingly caused, or reasonably should have known that their actions would lead to an oil spill in Californian State waters.
P&I club GARD, among others, has notified its members that The International Group Clubs are considering the potential impact on cover for pollution risks of this new legislation having in mind the potential for very substantial fines to be issued against a polluter. The P&I clubs will advise members further in that regard.
The International Group and the ICS will also consider taking steps to address industry’s concerns arising from this new law, although any such steps will not affect its entry into force date in California on 1 January 2021.
POLLUTION – THE RACE TO CLEAN UP THE TANKER INDUSTRY is a session in the Tanker Shipping & Trade Americas 1-2 February 2021. Book now to avoid disappointment.
Sign up to attend Riviera’s upcoming series of free operational and technical webinars on our events page
You can view all the previous webinars, in full, in our webinar library