Oil Response Mechanism in Florida

Around the world, development efforts have a variety of negative effects on the environment. Improvement of the infrastructure and the search for valuable commodities like gasoline are examples of these activities. While such activities are meant to enhance the lives of their dependents and boost government revenue, adequate measures must be taken to ensure that they don't also have a negative effect on the area in which they are carried out. Oil exploration could have disastrous effects on the ecosystem and the economy, similar to those seen in the BP oil spill case. Thus, rather than attempting to correct such catastrophes, it is crucial to establish policies that regulate, mitigate, and avoid such occurrences. (Li et al., 2016). This paper seeks to prepare a thorough research for the administrator of a Florida Gulf Coast beach city for disaster preparedness in case of a potential oil spill.

Rules and Regulations pertaining to Oil Spillage in Florida

There is an established oil spill response in Florida that if used properly and adequately, is able to mitigate and prevent any negative impacts associated with an oil spill. First of all, there is an existing governing law, as well as regulations for a Florida State oil spill response. There is a Florida Pollutant Discharge Prevention and Control Act, as well as the Florida Statutes (FS) 376.011 to 376.317 and FS 376.19 to 376.21. In addition, there are reporting quantities notably: Florida Administrative Code (FAC) 62-780.210 and 62-780.560. All the above named regulations stipulate all the necessary measures that can be undertaken to ensure that the state is able to adequately respond to an oil spill catastrophe of the nature of the BP oil spill.

The Florida Pollutant Discharge Prevention and Control Act (FPDPCA)

The Florida Pollutant Discharge Prevention and Control Act (FPDPCA) was last amended in 2005. Its aim is to maintain the proper state of the sea coast, the adjacent waters, the beaches as well as public land neighboring the ocean. Of paramount importance is the oil spills that are the center of attention in this essay, substance discharge as well as pollutants arising from facilities associated with the ocean ranging from ships, onshore and offshore equipment, and terminal facilities. The storage, transportation and transfer activities are what may cause hazardous substances ending up in the coastal region of the state. The regulation is enforced by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FFWCC) as well as the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. The FPDPCA is the main governing regulation for all issues affecting the Florida Coastline and shall be the center of attention within the essay. The above stated Florida Statutes are used as a guideline in implementing the FPDPCA in the following sections of the essay.

Regulation Agencies

Several regulatory agencies exist that are charged with the mandate of addressing catastrophes of such a nature. One of the main agencies is the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Division of Law Enforcement Office of Emergency Response (OER). This is directly charged to respond immediately to any threat to the environment within the state. Then there is the DEP Division of Waste Management Bureau of Petroleum Storage Systems (BPSS). This agency directly deals with any incidences that pertain to the petroleum industry within the state. Any wastes of petroleum nature within the state is dealt with by this department (Li et al., 2016). Another agency of note is the DEP Division of Waste Management Bureau of Waste Cleanup (BWC). This is the department that deals with eliminating any waste that affects the environment, arising from any infrastructure development activities. Furthermore, there is the Florida State Emergency Response Commission. This deals with any emergency operations including oil spills that may affect the marine environment. Their aim is to act as soon as possible to restore normalcy within the state. Finally, the Florida Marine Patrol is another agency that is charged with the mandate of monitoring how the marine environment within the state is fairing. It is responsible for reporting any abnormalities within the marine environment for the relevant agencies to act. All these agencies have a role to work hand in hand to ensure the prevention and quickest mitigation measures of any incidence of an oil spill within the coast line of Florida as a state.

In addition to the state agencies charged with the mandate of oil spill response within Florida, two national agencies are also available to supplement the efforts within the state of Florida. These are the National Response Center and the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG). Both of these agencies are vital in case the magnitude of a spill is beyond the response system within the state (National Research Council, 2014). It is significant to note that Florida has put in place particular state-specific reporting and mitigation mechanisms related to petroleum spillage. In addition, it refers to federal release notification regulations for any oil spills captured within the Oil pollution Act of 1990. All facilities operating within the state are obligated to secure the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) certification, and marine equipment are also obligated to establish spill contingency measures. Depending on the type of oil storage facilities being utilized, it is vital to follow the federal spill prevention, control, and countermeasure (SPCC) plan rules (National Research Council, 2014). The chief contact regarding administration and enforcement of emergency response events that are petroleum related is the Department of Environmental Protection's, office of Emergency Response.

Cleanup Costs

The FPDPCA has set up specific and accurate measures regarding various responsibilities and accountabilities that arise after pollutants are discharged into the marine region. In the case scenario involving an offshore facility, it is the owner, lessee, permit holder, or holder of the right of use and easement of the facility. In addition, in case of any other parties that may be involved in pollution, the following requirements have been put in place:

For any incident involving a ship, the owner, the one steering or operating the ship is responsible.

If the pollution arises from cargo in a ship, the cargo owner is responsible.

Any pollution from an onshore facility would require action from the operator or owner of the facility.

In there is any issue arising from a deepwater port that is licensed under the Deepwater Port Act, the owner of the license is responsible.

For a pipeline spill, the owner of the pipeline is responsible.

Furthermore, if the spill may arise from a facility that in unoccupied, the immediate previous owners are responsible for the spillage. As a result of any spillage that may cause damage to any existing facilities, systems and revenue-generating developments, the Florida Department of Environment Protection is charged with the mandate of following up the matter with the responsible agency to make any payments or rectifications regarding any pollution (Michael & Sean, 2015). The FPDPCA contains a schedule of payments that act as a compensation schedule which assist in addressing oil spill-related issues. The schedule has been prepared based on the magnitude of discharge, the general factors associated with the pollutant, as well as the kind of natural resource affected. This is because once any resource is affected, it may have a profound impact even on the tourism activities within the area.


There are various stringent penalties in existence within the FPDPCA that the state can take advantage of in case any spill any occur, and if such a spill can end up on the coastal line, or the beach within the state's beach line. Of notable importance is the violation provision within the FPDPCA that is punishable by a civil penalty. This is a penalty of $50,000 that the involved party is liable for each day they continue violating the regulations regarding pollution by way of an oil spill (Michael & Sean, 2015). As such, it encourages the responsible parties to quickly respond by reporting any incidences in order to initiate the cleanup process as soon as possible. In addition, there is a threshold set for the amount of pollutant that can attract any such penalties. With all these in place it is possible for the Florida State/City to take advantage and make any lawsuits go in their favor.

On the other hand, there are incidences which may favor the parties responsible for an oil spill within the state.

These are occurrences beyond the control of human intervention. Such activities are as listed below:

Acts of God

Acts of war

Acts of regime (federal, state, county, or municipalities)

Activities or errors of a third party not hired by or in a prescribed relationship with respondent

However, such is not as straightforward as it may appear, the violators are required to plead to the effect that they should prove beyond reasonable doubt that the occurrences that led to such a spill were beyond their control and were as a result of a third party. In case the perceived violators do not follow up within a specified period of time, they are liable for any such incidences. In addition, in case, the perceived owners of the facilities are unable to defend themselves to the extent of proving beyond reasonable doubt that they were not responsible for the incidence, they shall be held responsible for the spills and required to pay the associated fines.

Unique Policy and Procedure for Florida Oil Spill Management

Florida may take advantage of all the existing rules, regulations and agencies in tackling any issue related with oil spills of this nature. However, the rules are possibly adopted from regulations in other countries or cities and may not have a unique impact to Florida beach management procedures. In my view, the adoption of a compliance management plan not only in relation to deepwater oil spills, but also all pollution related to the sea, is paramount in ensuring that the pollution is managed at the earliest opportunity and that any losses in terms of tourism, ecosystem or marine degradation are put to a halt as soon as possible (Queale, 2012). In addition, the compliance management can also come in handy to ensure that such spills do not head to the beachfront.

The compliance management procedure can be done by developing an agency or a regulatory body that is charged with the sole mandate of checking all vessels, facilities (onshore, offshore and terminal) and equipment that are associated with the Florida State beach and marine segment have adhered to the rules set in place regarding pollution in the region. The agency is supposed to perform continuous checks to all elements associated with the ocean for compliance with the existing regulation. The chief operating officer in charge of the overall fisheries and marine department of the state has the overall mandate of ensuring that the checks are performed on a regular basis (Queale, 2012). In addition, there should be compliance managers in all the associated agencies who perform any duties unique to their department and make a report directed to the chief operating officer in charge of fisheries and marine life in the state.

The selection of the above-referenced procedures are paramount as they would guide a proper implementation of all the associated guidelines in dealing with environmental pollution within the ocean region. Secondly, such a measure resonates with the saying that prevention is better than cure. This implies that, however much money can be paid by the violators of the existing regulations, the overall impact may not be commensurate to the money paid (Queale, 2012). For instance, in the case of a spill that may lead to an underperformance in the tourism industry, it is not going to be a straightforward task in re-acquiring the lost tourists. This is because, any negative reviews by the tourists can have an impact that may last much longer than the time that would be taken in conducting the ocean cleanup exercise that may have stalled tourism activities in the area. In addition to that, since tourists are human beings, it is possible for them to be dissatisfied with efforts made by the state regarding addressing critical issues that may affect their vessels or wellbeing, in relation to lawsuits that lead to loss of time.

Associated Costs of Implementation

Implementing such a strategy may not be a very expensive measure. This is because it may mostly involve administrative costs of running the new agency. However, it is imperative for the agency to have state-of-the-art equipment to ensure efficiency in their operations. Such equipment may include several choppers for aerial surveillance. Enhancement of on-ground surveillance facilities, and an IT system that is able to immediately detect the state and identification of the existing facilities in the onshore and the offshore so as to detect any developments and compliance measures that the facilities have taken in their running. As such, in case a facility is expanded, it is easy for the surveillance equipment to ensure that such a facility does not evade any incremental licensing costs associated with such an expansion.

In conclusion, it is clear that there are enough regulations on the ground that would deal with a devastating catastrophe of the nature of BP oil spill. However, since there were regulations in existence as the spill took place, it is possible to enhance the vigilance to prevent the kind of destruction that resulted from the spill.


Li, P., Cai, Q., Lin, W., Chen, B., & Zhang, B. (2016). Review: Offshore oil spill response practices and emerging challenges. Marine Pollution Bulletin, 1106-27. doi:10.1016/j.marpolbul.2016.06.020

Michael T. O. & Sean C. (2015). Handbook of Florida Water Regulation: Florida Pollutant Discharge Prevention and Control Act.

National Research Council, (. (U.S.). (2014). Responding to Oil Spills in the U.S. Arctic Marine Environment. Washington, D.C.: National Academies Press.

Queale, A. J. (2012). Responding to the Response: Reforming the Legal Framework for Dispersant Use in Oil Spill Response Efforts in the Wake of Deepwater Horizon. West-Northwest Journal Of Environmental Law & Policy, 1863.

What to expect in South Florida from the Deepwater Horizon/BP oil spill [electronic resource] / National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce. (2010). [Silver Spring, Md.] : National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, U.S. Dept. of Commerce, [2010].

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