Special Topics in Environmental Management

Tips for Oil Spill Preparedness at Marinas

Training – One of the most important things to remember is that spill response requires quick thinking and well-trained employees, so staying on top of training is key. Marina staff should be trained annually in fueling and spill prevention, containment and cleanup procedures, and complete records of training should be kept. Other helpful tips include:

  • Start each boating season by reviewing the marina’s SPCC Plan and response procedures.
  • Train employees in the use of containment measures.
  • Run emergency response drills at least once each year.
  • Consider asking the U.S. Coast Guard and/or the local fire department to demonstrate emergency spill response procedures at your marina.

Join us on August 28 when you will learn key compliance elements for downstream facilities concerning last year’s SPCC guidance document and much more. Register now.


Don’t forget that all marina employees who are expected to respond to an oil spill are required to obtain Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response Standard  (HAZWOPER) training as defined in 29 CFR 1910.120. Depending on the level of response expected, this training includes:

  • Level I – First Responder Awareness (4-8 Hours) for employees likely to witness or discover a spill and initiate an emergency response by notifying the proper authorities.
  • Level II – First Responder Operations (24 Hours) for employees who would respond to releases or potential spills as part of the initial response to protect nearby people, property or the environment from the effects of the spill. Actions are limited to defensive measures to stop releases and protect resources from a safe distance.
  • Level III – Hazardous Materials Technician (40 Hours) for employees who would respond to a spill by performing such actions as plugging or patching containers and participating in cleanup of released materials. Level III requires annual eight-hour refresher training.

Keep in mind that oil spills that can be controlled at the time of release by employees in the immediate area are not considered an “emergency response” operation covered by HAZWOPER standards.


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Oil Spill Response Equipment – Second only to employee training is the maintenance of required spill response equipment. When a spill occurs, a lack of materials or poor storage practices can mean the difference between a quick cleanup and an environmental disaster. Here are tips to help you become and stay prepared:

  • Maintain enough appropriate oil spill response equipment to contain the greatest potential spill at your facility.
  • Make sure equipment inventory includes the quantity of booms required to encircle the largest boat in the marina. This quantity can be calculated by multiplying the length of the largest vessel by three.
  • Be prepared to legally dispose of used oil absorbent materials in accordance with applicable state and federal laws.
  • Always store response equipment in readily accessible locations, such as the fuel dock, launch and dry stack areas, and especially fuel receiving and fuel dispensing areas. 
  • Store materials in an enclosed container or bin that is accessible to all staff and label the storage site with a sign stating: “Oil Spill Response Kit.”
  • Make sure instructions for deploying pads and booms are included in the kit.
  • Also include the requirements for reporting all spills to the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) National Response Center at (800) 424-8802 and other officials as defined in the marina’s SPCC Plan.
  • Consider leaving the storage container unlocked so that it is immediately available to both staff and boaters, especially on weekends and holidays when activity and risk are higher. Be sure to check the inventory regularly to ensure there is always an adequate supply of materials available.

Remember that reporting a spill to the USCG does not automatically designate the marina as the responsible party or initiate any penalties against the reporter. However, failure to report a spill to the USGS National Response Center may result in civil penalties.