Coast Guard: Preparation and Response for Oil Spills in Philadelphia and New York Ports

Published by the Government Accountability Office on 1990-01-26.

Below is a raw (and likely hideous) rendition of the original report. (PDF)


                 Unite@ States   General   Accounting   Office
                 Report to the Chairman, Subcommittee
-GAO             on Transportation and Related
                 Agencies, Committee on
                 Appropriations, U.S. Senate

January   1990
                 COAST GUARD
                 Preparation and                                 ;
                 Responsefor Oil Spills                          :
                 in Philadelphia and                             ’
                 New York Ports                                  ’
                   United States
GAO                General Accounting Office
                   Washington, D.C. 20548

                   Resources, Community, and
                   Economic Development Division


                   January 26, 1990

                   The Honorable Frank R. Lautenberg
                   Chairman, Subcommittee on Transportation
                     and Related Agencies
                   Committee on Appropriations
                   United States Senate

                   Dear Mr. Chairman:

                   On April 13, 1989, you requested that we (1) evaluate how well industry
                   and government are prepared to respond to oil spills and (2) examine
                   measures that can be taken to help prevent spills in the future. You
                   requested that we address these issues for the March 24, 1989, Exxon
                   Valdez spill in Alaska’s Prince William Sound and for the Philadelphia
                   and New York ports. We discussed our observations on the Exxon
                   Valdez spill in an October 1989 report, which stated that industry and
                   government were not well prepared to respond to the spill and that pri-
                   ority needs to be given to measures to help prevent similar situations
                   from occurring in the future.* This report responds to your request con-
                   cerning the Philadelphia and New York ports.

                   We found that, similar to the situation in Prince William Sound, in the
Results in Brief   Philadelphia and New York ports, industry and the Coast Guard are not
                   prepared to respond2 to major oil spills (over 100,000 gallons). Factors
                   contributing to this unpreparedness include the lack of (1) specificity in
                   the Philadelphia and New York Coast Guard’s and industry’s contin-
                   gency plans on how spills of various sizes would be handled with avail-
                   able resources and (2) Coast Guard authority to require ship owners and
                   operators to have contingency plans or to require changes in existing
                   plans. We also found that the response to a recent spill in the Philadel-
                   phia area indicates a need to improve equipment capabilities for con-
                   taining oil and removing it from the water.

                   As we stated in our Exxon Valdez report, even with a substantially
                   greater commitment to improving response capabilities, recent expe-
                   riences indicate that the priority for dealing with major oil spills should
                   be to prevent them from occurring in the first place. The experiences in

                    ‘Coast Guard: Adequacy of Preparation and Response to Won Valdez Oil Spill (GAO/RCED-90-44.
                    Oct. 30, 1989).
                    ‘As used in this report, response to a spill includes containing oil and removing it from the water.

                    Page 1                             GAO/RCEIMO-M        Oil Spilla in Philadelphia   and New York Ports

             Prince William Sound and Philadelphia, and across the nation, however,
             show that much needs to be done to improve prevention measures such
             as monitoring and guiding ship movements and using harbor pilots or
             vessel escorts.

             Recent actions by the Coast Guard to identify what size spills can be
             handled effectively with existing resources in each port area, and recent
             bills passed by the Senate and House to require the development of
             plans by industry, the approval of such plans by the Coast Guard, and
             the establishment of a fund to support prevention, response, and
             research and development activities indicate a strong desire to reduce
             the risks associated with such spills. But leadership is needed to pull
             together the various options for making improvements nationally.

             The Clean Water Act provides for a national contingency plan to achieve
Background   efficient, effective, and coordinated action for minimizing damage from
             oil spills. The plan, set forth in regulations, defines an organizational
             structure that ranges from a national response team to coordinators on
             the scene. Collectively, this structure tries to ensure the coordination of
             oil spill contingency plans and response actions from the national to the
             local level. The Commandant of the Coast Guard, who is responsible for
             assuring that responses to spills are adequate, has designated the Coast
             Guard Captains of the Port in Philadelphia and New York as the “on-
             scene coordinators” for their respective areas.

             In general, the owner or operator of a vessel that discharges oil in viola-
             tion of the Clean Water Act is responsible and liable for removal costs,
             with the on-scene coordinator monitoring the removal operation to
             ensure it is being done properly. When a polluter is unknown or the
             Coast Guard on-scene coordinator determines the removal effort is
             insufficient, he shall assume total or partial control of response activi-
             ties by “federalizing” the response. This activates the 31 l(k) fund pro-
             vided under the act to cover expenses and allows the coordinator to take
             whatever actions are necessary to ensure proper cleanup.

             The area of responsibility of the Philadelphia Captain of the Port
             includes the Delaware Bay and River System and its seaward
             approaches. Over 70 percent of all oil entering the eastern United States
             does so on ships transiting the Delaware Bay. The area of responsibility
             of the New York Captain of the Port includes the Greater New York Har-
             bor and connecting waterways serving New York and northeastern New
             Jersey. According to the Coast Guard, on an average day, 76 vessels,

             Page 2                   GAO/lEEB30-33   Oil Spills in Philadelphia   and New York Ports

                          ranging in capacity from 840,000 to 25,200,OOOgallons, transport oil in
                          the Kew York port.

                          Industry and Coast Guard response capabilities and preparations
Response Plans and        proved inadequate during the June 24, 1989,300,000-gallon Presidente
Capabilities Need         Rivera spill on the Delaware River. It is questionable whether the
Improvement               preparedness for spills of similar size in the New York port or for other
                          spills of similar size in the Philadelphia port area would be any better.
                          This unpreparedness exists primarily because the industry’s and New
                          York Coast Guard’s plans neither specifically identify the sizes of spills
                          that, based on experience, could reasonably be expected to occur nor say
                          what personnel and equipment are required to respond to spills of vari-
                          ous sizes. Although the Coast Guard’s recently revised plan for the Phil-
                          adelphia port recognizes that spills of 1.5 to 2 million gallons are
                          probably the worst that could occur, it states that local resource capabil-
                          ities could handle effectively spills of no more than 50,000 gallons. Fur-
                          ther, while the owners or operators of tankers in transit are responsible
                           for responding to spills, the Coast Guard believes it does not have the
                          authority to ensure beforehand that their preparations are adequate to
                           deal with a spill. Bills recently passed by the Senate and House would
                           require owners or operators of ships in transit to have contingency
                           plans approved by the Coast Guard.

Plans Lack Specifics on   According to our consultant on oil spill response,3 because spills of over
Response Capabilities     100,000 gallons occur at least annually and spills of over l,OOO,OOOgal-
                          lons can be expected to occur every 5 to 10 years, it is important to have
                          detailed, up-to-date contingency plans. Our consultant also stressed the
                          importance of recognizing in contingency plans variables that could
                          affect response capabilities. A major flaw our consultant found with
                          both the Coast Guard’s and industry’s plans for Prince William Sound
                          was the lack of specifics on resources and actions that would be
                          employed for spills of different sizes that could occur in the area. For
                          example, our consultant concluded that if the contingency plans for the
                          Exxon Valdez spill had addressed questions such as how much equip-
                          ment would be necessary and when it could arrive, the decision makers
                          at the incident would have been in a better position to make informed
                          decisions concerning containment and cleanup.

                           3Engineering Computer Optecnomics, Inc., (ECO) of Annapolis, Maryland, a firm with expertise in oil
                           spill contingency planning, response, and prevention, assisted in our evaluation of the Exxon Valdez
                           oil spill. As part of its efforts, the company evaluated the spill using the key elements of an adequate
                           oil spill contingency plan.

                           Page 3                             GAO/RCED-!hM3       Oil Spills in Philadelphia   and New York Ports

Tankers transiting Philadelphia and New York port waters are not
required to have oil spill response contingency plans. When spills occur
with such vessels, the owners or operators generally contract with oil
company cooperatives” and private companies to respond to them. While
the Philadelphia and New York cooperatives have contingency plans, we
found that the plans lack specifics on capabilities for handling spills. For
example, our consultant believes that the Philadelphia plan does not
specify what personnel and equipment would be needed to respond to
spills of various sizes, nor does it indicate the largest spill the coopera-
tive could handle. Similarly, the New York plan does not link resources
to a spill of a specific size. While the New York plan contains details of
equipment that cooperative officials said can handle a 1,680,000-gallon
spill over 5 days, it does not indicate from where or how quickly person-
nel could be obtained to use the equipment. We also found that neither
of the cooperatives’ plans addresses variables, such as the time of day
 or week when a spill might occur, that could have an impact on the
 effectiveness of the spill response.

Unlike the operationally oriented cooperative plans, the Coast Guard’s
contingency plans for the Philadelphia and New York ports are primar-
ily designed for the Coast Guard’s monitoring or directing the actions of
others. Specifically, the Coast Guard’s plans (1) outline the duties and
interactions of the responding agencies; (2) promote the coordination of
federal, state, and local response systems; (3) encourage the develop-
ment of capabilities by both local government and private interests to
handle or prevent pollution discharges; and (4) provide detailed infor-
mation on local geography and critically sensitive areas. Coast Guard
officials in both ports acknowledged the plans’ lack of specifics on
resources available to deal with spills of various sizes and explained
that when a spill has occurred, they have employed an operational con-
 cept of using as many cleanup contractors as necessary. The officials
 also said that they have developed a knowledge of, and working rela-
 tionships with, contractors- information not written into the local

 After the Exxon Valdez experience, the Coast Guard Commandant
 directed port captains to review their plans and include more informa-
 tion in them, such as historical spill considerations, worst case scenarios,
 and scenarios for the most probable and realistic spills. Although the
 plans for the Philadelphia and New York ports were revised in October

 ‘Cooperatives are organizations voluntarily formed by member oil companies who share certain com-
 mon resources in the event of a spill.

 Page 4                          GAO/RCEDSO-gg      011 Spilla in Philadelphia   and New York Ports

                          1989, improvements are still needed. For example, the Captain of the
                          Port for Philadelphia analyzed the local response capability, specifically
                          addressing the personnel and equipment shortfalls for the worst case
                          scenario -which he defined as involving a spill of 1.5 to 2 million gal-
                          lons. (See app. I for more details.) The revised plan, however, acknowl-
                          edges that response capabilities in the area are not adequate to deal
                          with a spill of that size, but does not describe how resources could be
                          brought in from other areas to handle the spill; rather the revised plan is
                          limited to describing capabilities that are available locally to respond to
                          a spill of 50,000 gallons.

                          In his recent review of the Coast Guard’s plan for New York, the Cap-
                          tain of the Port recognized that a spill of severe consequence could occur
                          but did not specify what size spills could be handled effectively. He said
                          that the effectiveness of the response depends on the location, tempera-
                          ture, wind velocity, current velocity, type of oil, and many other factors.
                          As a result, he said it is impossible to state that spills of any particular
                          size can be handled. (See app. I for more details.)

Resources Needed for      Experience in the Philadelphia port area has demonstrated that
Major Spills Not Always   resources will not always be available to respond to spills as the cooper-
                          ative and Coast Guard assume. For example, during the first 2 days of
Available                 the Presidente Rivera spill, the response contractor was not able to
                          obtain enough people and workboats to remove the oil from the water
                          and the beaches. Industry could not provide personnel in sufficient num-
                          bers because the spill occurred on a weekend-a factor our consultant
                          said should be addressed in plans-and because personnel were han-
                          dling other spills. Running into the same obstacles, Coast Guard officials
                          said they and the local response organization tried but could not add
                          large numbers of resources from all of their known sources. Ultimately,
                          Delaware’s National Guard supplied manpower to do the job, and equip-
                          ment was provided by various sources, including the Coast Guard
                          National Strike Team (a Coast Guard group equipped to provide supple-
                          mental response support for, or on behalf of, federal on-scene

                          Resource shortages have been problems in the response to other major
                          Delaware River spills as well. For example, the on-scene coordinator for
                          the Grand Eagle spill (a 462,000-gallon spill that occurred on the Dela-
                          ware River in September 1985) said that contractors had problems
                          obtaining cleanup personnel for the response during hunting and fishing
                          seasons. Similar worker availability problems occurred during the

                           Page 6                   GAO/RCED-96433   Oil Spills in Philadelphia   and New York Ports

                         Intern-tar Alliance spill (a 176,000-gallon spill that occurred on the Dela-
                         ware River in March 1986).

                         Recent reviews of the Coast Guard’s plans have identified more specific
                         limitations in response capabilities. Although the Philadelphia port has
                         had in the past 5 years four oil spills in excess of 100,000 gallons, in his
                         October 1989 revised plan, the Captain of the Port recognized that
                         response capabilities in the area could deal effectively with spills of no
                         more than 50,000 gallons. He added that response effectiveness would
                         be affected by the time it could take area contractors to arrive on the
                         scene and deploy their equipment, as many as 6-9 hours, Further, he
                         pointed out, “There are simply not enough personnel and equipment
                         available locally to be able to conduct effective cleanup operations for a
                         worst case spill,” which, he said, would cause him to rely on the Strike
                         Teams and Navy for assistance.

                         In the New York port, two major spills-one of 102,000 gallons and the
                         other of 301,000 gallons-have occurred in the last 5 years, but neither
                         was as complex as the Presidente Rivera spill. The New York on-scene
                         coordinator for these spills did not prepare reports on them; conse-
                         quently, no written assessment was made of the preparations or
                         response. The recently revised New York Coast Guard’s plan does not
                         describe specifically the resource capabilities in the area.

Authority Is Needed to    The Coast Guard believes it lacks authority to require private ship own-
                          ers, operators, or others, such as industry cooperatives, to have contin-
Ensure Response           gency plans for dealing with oil spills by vessels in transit. Furthermore,
Preparations Are          if the owner, operator, or cooperative has such a plan, the Coast Guard
Adequate                  believes it cannot dictate the size of the spill that the plan should
                          address, ensure that the resources called for in the plan are in place, or
                          ensure that the plan is tested for its effectiveness.

                          However, the Coast Guard asserts that once a spill occurs, it has author-
                          ity to monitor the response or assume partial or total control of the
                          response. Thus, while the Coast Guard has a major role in ensuring the
                          effectiveness of a response, it believes it does not have the necessary
                          authority to ensure that industry response preparations are adequate. If
                          the Coast Guard would have the authority to approve industry plans to
                          ensure their quality, it would be in a better position to develop its own
                          plans to guide actions if it would have to assume control of the response.
                          Coast .Guard officials believe this lack of authority is the most signifi-
                          cant limiting factor in the contingency planning process.

                          Page 6                    GAO/RCED-90433   Oil Spills in Philadelphia   and New York Ports

                        To address this deficiency, bills passed by the Senate (S. 686) and House
                        (H.R. 1465) in August and November 1989, respectively, require all
                        owners and operators of tank vessels carrying oil in US. waters to pre-
                        pare and submit to the Coast Guard a contingency plan for the preven-
                        tion, containment, and cleanup of oil spills from their vessels or
                        facilities. The bills require that the plans provide full details of the
                        method of response to a worst case spill and a detailed description of
                        equipment to be used. Further, these bills require the Coast Guard to
                        approve all contingency plans and to require changes to the plans or
                        response capabilities it deems necessary. Coast Guard officials told us
                        that this new authority will require substantial additional resources and
                        clarification of federal liability relating to the use of approved plans.
                        The Congress is expected to act early in 1990 on this proposed legisla-
                        tion, which we endorse in concept.

                        The responses to the Presidente Rivera and Exxon Valdez spills also
Deficiencies Noted in   indicated a need to improve equipment for containing and removing oil.
Capabilities of         For example, a lesson learned from the response to the Presidente
Response Equipment      -skimmers,
                        Rivera   spill was that the equipment normally used, such as booms and
                                      would not effectively contain or recover the heavy tar-like
                         clumps of spilled oil. During the initial stages of the spill, the contain-
                         ment booms used were not heavy enough and did not go deep enough
                         into the water to prevent the heavy oil from passing under them. Skim-
                         mers could recover the material, but it was almost impossible to off-load
                         the collected material. Initially, oil was recovered by physically picking
                         up the clumps, either by hand or by fishing net, and placing them in
                         containers. Later, according to Coast Guard officials, clamshell dredges
                         were more effective in picking up the oil.

                        In our Exxon Valdez report, we said that current recovery technology
                        could not have addressed effectively a spill of the size encountered.
                        Coast Guard officials told us that the response to that spill was ham-
                        pered by breakdowns in equipment and by techniques rendered ineffec-
                        tive by weather and water conditions. Further, Coast Guard officials
                        told us that with current technology, the best that typically can be
                        expected after a major spill, such as the one from the Exxon Valdez, is
                        to recover 10 to 15 percent of the oil.

                        Notably, however, while concern exists that response technology has
                        not changed much since the 197Os, federal funding for research and
                        development has been cut back in recent years. For example, according
                        to an official of the Environmental Protection Agency, in fiscal year

                        Page 7                    GAO/RCEXHO-83   Oil Spilla in Philadelphia   and New York Ports

                       1988 the agency suspended research and development in prevention and
                       cleanup of oil spills in favor of higher priority needs. Also, in fiscal year
                       1989 the Coast Guard’s budget for research, development, testing, and
                       evaluation in its Marine Environmental Protection Program, of which oil
                       spill response is only a part, was about $.5 million-$8.3    million less
                       than was expended in 1983.

                       Acknowledging the need for improvement, the Senate and House bills,
                       which we endorse in concept, authorize the establishment of a program
                       that would provide for research, development, and demonstration of
                       new or improved technologies effective in preventing or mitigating oil
                       discharges under both moderate and harsh environmental conditions.

                       The nation’s limited ability to deal with spills of the size or nature of
Priority Needs to Be   those from the Exxon Valdez or Presidente Rivera demonstrates the
Given to Spill         importance of preventing such spills from occurring in the first place.
Prevention             The examinations after these spills show that improvements are needed
                       in prevention measures, including such important ones as the monitoring
                       and guiding of ship movements, and the use of vessel escorts and harbor

                       One method to guard against vessel groundings or collisions that could
                       result in oil spills is the use of a Vessel Traffic Service (WS) system.
                       According to Coast Guard officials, because of budget constraints, VTS
                       systems across the country have been cut back, including the elimina-
                       tion of the New York Harbor VTSin 1988. The Coast Guard currently
                       operates a VTSin five areas of the nation’s waterways. Recently, how-
                       ever, supplemental appropriations were passed, making up to $5.6 mil-
                       lion available for the development, acquisition, installation, and
                       operation of, and support for a ITS in the New York Harbor area. The
                       Philadelphia port has no Coast Guard VTS,but private organizations
                       operate a ITS at the mouth of Delaware Bay to track ship arrivals and
                       departures. The Coast Guard is currently examining the role of the vrs
                       system nationwide in monitoring and guiding ship movements. Coast
                       Guard officials believe VTSsystems should be mandatory since some sys-
                       tems now in use are voluntary.

                        Using vessel escorts and harbor pilots can help lower the likelihood of
                        accidents by assisting vessels and by possibly providing the captains
                        with more knowledge of local water conditions and hazards. The use of
                        these prevention measures is important in ports where a large number
                        of foreign ships enter, such as the New York and Philadelphia ports. For

                        Page 8                   GAO/ICED-90433   oil Spills in Philadelphia   and New York Ports

                     these ports, the Coast Guard requires vessels transporting hazardous
                     cargo, such as liquified petroleum gas, to have vessel escorts as an
                     added safety measure, but does not routinely require oil tankers to use
                     escorts. If a ship transporting oil has mechanical problems or has to
                     transit hazardous waters, however, the Captain of the Port can direct
                     that escorts be used.

                     The use of pilots in the Philadelphia and New York ports differs. In the
                     Philadelphia port area, Delaware and Pennsylvania require that a state-
                     licensed pilot remain on board the vessel from the time it enters the Del-
                     aware Bay until it is docked. In the New York port area, New York
                     requires a state-licensed pilot be on board a vessel while it is entering
                     New York harbor, but not while it is being docked or moved within the
                     harbor. The Coast Guard is currently examining pilotage authorities and
                     requirements to consider any need for change.

                     The Exxon Valdez spill has generated many recommendations for
Recent Spills Have   improving prevention and response nationwide. A Department of Trans-
Generated            portation and Environmental Protection Agency May 1989 joint report
Recommendations      to the President, done in response to that incident, identifies many
                     efforts needed in prevention, contingency planning, readiness of
That Will Need       response resources, designation of roles and responsibilities of parties
Focused Action and   involved in a response, and research and development. Also, the Ameri-
                     can Petroleum Institute issued a June 1989 report that includes recom-
Greater Funding      mendations for improving prevention, response, and research and
                     development. In addition, the Coast Guard completed a comprehensive
                     evaluation of alternatives to help prevent oil spills, and many other
                     activities are still underway that will add to possible nationwide actions.

                     Similarly, the Presidente Rivera spill has generated suggestions for
                      improving prevention and response in the Delaware River area, sugges-
                      tions that may be applicable elsewhere. For example, Philadelphia Coast
                      Guard officials believe that advance planning should be done with state
                     .government sources of manpower, such as the National Guard, so that
                      the manpower is ready for quick activation in an emergency when com-
                      mercial personnel are unable to meet the need. In its preliminary report
                      on the Delaware River spill, the Coast Guard suggested that private
                      industry develop an emergency management team to assist in mobilizing
                      resources. Subsequently, the Philadelphia Coast Guard established such
                      a team to advise the on-scene coordinator.

                      Page 9                  GAO/RCED-!30-83   Oil Spills in Philadelphia   and New York Porta

              Although the many suggested actions stemming from the Exxon Valdez
              and Presidenta Rivera spills are positive signs, these actions may not be
              as effective as possible if implemented only on a local basis, that is, if
              only local changes are made in the use of VTS,escorts, or pilots. Thus, it
              may be appropriate to establish a single entity or leader for recom-
              mending and pulling together the specific actions that are likely to
              achieve a higher level of protection nationally.

              As we previously reported on the Exxon Valdez spill, achieving greater
              protection will require greater funding. The recent Senate and House
              bills, which we endorse in concept, would establish a fund to pay for
              response activities and damages if full compensation is not available
              from the party that spills the oil. Money for the fund would come from a
              per barrel tax on crude oil and petroleum products shipped in US.

              Planning and readiness for oil spills in the Philadelphia and New York
Conclusions   ports need improvement, as they do elsewhere in the nation. Industry
              and the Coast Guard cannot respond effectively to oil spills if they do
              not have the plans and resources necessary to do the job. Although
              recent Coast Guard assessments of response capabilities in the Philadel-
              phia and New York ports raise questions about industry’s ability to han-
              dle major spills in these areas, the Coast Guard does not believe it has
              the authority necessary to ensure that adequate industry response prep
              arations have been made. Past experiences with major spills have shown
              that a greater commitment to planning and response will probably not
              fully protect the environment. Thus, priority should be given to prevent-
              ing spills. Industry and government efforts are already underway
              nationally and locally to improve prevention and response capabilities,
              but achieving greater protection wiIl require greater funding. To estab-
              lish and maintain the desired higher levels of protection and to help
              maximize the effectiveness of actions taken, leadership will also be
              needed. We believe a single entity within the federal government should
               adopt the leadership role.

               In our Exxon Valdez report, we presented several matters for congres-
               sional consideration to help ensure that an effective course of action is
               developed for improving the nation’s capabilities to prevent and
               respond to oil and other hazardous spills, and to help ensure that suffi-
               cient funds are available to support improved prevention and response
               capabilities. In that report we stated that the Congress may wish to

               Page 10                  GAO/RCED90-33   011 Spib   in Philadelphia   and New York Ports

                         l designating through legislation a single entity or leader for developing
                           an action plan;
                         . establishing a fund, or modifying existing funds, to finance the improve-
                           ments; and
                         l providing the Coast Guard with explicit authority to carry out the role
                           of ensuring adequate response preparations have been made.

                             We believe our findings for the Philadelphia and New York port areas
                             further support these considerations. As we have noted in this report,
                             the last two considerations are addressed in bills passed by the Senate
                             and House in 1989. Regarding the last consideration, Coast Guard offi-
                             cials stated that the new authority will require substantial additional
                             resources and clarification of federal liability relating to the use of
                             approved plans.

                             Our objectives were, for the ports of Philadelphia and New York, to
Objectives, Scope, and       evaluate oil spill response preparation and capabilities, Coast Guard
Methodology                  authority to manage responses for these ports, and measures that can be
                             taken to help prevent major oil spills from occurring in the future. We
                             conducted our work from May through September 1989 primarily by
                             interviewing Coast Guard officials in headquarters, Philadelphia, and
                             New York, and by reviewing relevant reports and documents. Details of
                             our objectives, scope, and methodology are contained in appendix II.

                             As you requested, we did not obtain official agency comments on a draft
                             of this report. We did, however, discuss our findings and conclusions
                             with Coast Guard headquarters and local officials. We performed our
                             work in accordance with generally accepted government auditing stan-
                             dards, under the direction of Kenneth M. Mead, Director, Transportation
                             Issues, who can be reached at (202) 275-1000. Appendix III lists the
                             major contributors to this report.

                             Page 11                  GAO/IUXDM     Oil Spills in Philadelphia   and New York Ports

    As arranged with your office, unless you publicly announce its contents
    earlier, we plan no further distribution of this report until 7 days after
    the date of this letter. At that time, we will send copies to the Secretary
    of Transportation, the Commandant of the Coast Guard, and other inter-
    ested parties.

    Sincerely yours,

:   J. Dexter Peach
    Assistant Comptroller General

     Page 12                  GAO/RCTRKWMU   oil Spillm in Philadelphia   and New York Porta
Page 13   GAO/lWED90-83 Oil Spille in Philadelphia   and New York Ports

Appendix I                                                                                                   16
Coast Guard Analysis     Philadelphia Port Resource Capabilities                                             16
                         New York Port Resource Capabilities                                                 18
of Adequacy of Spill
Response R&ources in
the Philadelphia and
New York Ports
Appendix II
Objectives, Scope, and
Appendix III                                                                                                 22
Major Contributors to
This Report


                                   Captain of the Port
                         GAO       General Accounting Office
                         osc       on-scene coordinator
                         PIRO      Petroleum Industry Response Organization
                         WED       Resources, Community, and Economic Development Division
                         VT3       Vessel Traffic Service

                         Page 14                 GAO/WED-!W-S3   Oil Spilla in Philadelphia   and New York Porta

Page 16       GAO/ICED-9043   Oil Spills in Philadelphia   and New York Ports
Appendix I

CoastGuard Analysis of Adequacy of Spill
ResponseResourcesin the Philadelphia and
New York Ports
                        The Commandant of the Coast Guard, after the Exxon Valdez spill and
                        as a result of the Congress’ recent focus on contingency plans, identified
                        certain important issues, including existing shortfalls of response
                        resources, that should be addressed in local Coast Guard plans. Conse-
                        quently, all on-scene coordinators were required to report personnel and
                        equipment shortfalls identified during their planning process.

                        The Captain of the Port, Philadelphia, drafted the following response
Philadelphia Port       for spills of approximately 1.5 to 2 million gallons, a worst case spill for
Resource Capabilities   the port:

                        “Obtaining sufficient personnel to assist with cleanup efforts has proved to be diffi-
                        cult Many local cleanup contractors are small companies with only a few people on
                        hand. Other companies are large, but have offices spread out over a large region. In
                        addition, none of the companies keep a large number of personnel on hand in case a
                        major spill occurs. They are performing jobs in other areas of their business and
                        may not have any personnel available at the time you need them. An estimated
                        1,200-l ,500 civilians will be needed to assist in various cleanup operations for spills
                        around 1.5-2 million gallons. At best, only 1,000 civilians from 17 different cleanup
                        companies can be obtained. All of the available companies have to rely on other
                        sources to increase their staff. Each company typically obtains extra personnel from
                        other firms, a labor pool (temporary labor supplies), part-timers, or state unemploy-
                        ment offices. Many of these alternatives are not a guarantee that extra personnel
                        can be obtained.

                        “It will take all of these cleanup companies a number of hours to mobilize their per-
                        sonnel, Approximately 300 personnel are available on call at any time. The follow-
                        ing is a list of how many personnel from the 17 companies could be on scene in a
                        certain number of hours. It is estimated that only about 500 personnel can be
                        obtained for a response.

                        a) Within   6 hours              419 personnel
                        b) Within   12 hours             575 personnel
                        c) Within   24 hours             726 personnel
                        d) Within   36 hours             88 1 personnel
                        e) Within   48 hours           1,008 personnel

                        “Although the contractors stated that they could have over 1,000 people on scene
                        within 48 hours, it could take as long as 3-5 days to provide that number of people if
                        the spill occurs on a weekend or holiday. In addition, these people can be provided
                        only so long as they are not doing any other work or responding to oil spills in other
                        areas. We believe that the actual number of people that could be provided for
                        cleanup operations will probably be much less than the stated amounts.

                        Page 16                       GAO/‘RCED9O433      Oil Spilla in Philadelphia   and New York Ports

“The Coast Guard Marine Safety Office, Philadelphia, will be severely undermanned
in the event of a 1.6-2 million-gallon spill. We estimate that approximately 250 per-
sonnel will be needed to conduct operations and support. If the spill has to be feder-
alized, then we estimate that approximately 460-600 personnel will be needed. This
does not include personnel from the Strike Team that will be needed. Our staff can
be augmented by Coast Guard Reservists as well as active duty members from other

     .There is an inadequate supply of response equipment available locally to be

able to respond to a very large spill. Many contractors do not keep a large inventory
of equipment that is expensive and may be used very little. In addition, some of the
listed equipment could already be in use in other projects or oil spills at the time
that they may be needed locally. Many of the contractors are not within the local or
regional areas and will take some time to be on scene if called upon.

“The following is a basic list of personnel and equipment that are available pro-
vided all 17 contractors were available and not busy, as well as what we estimate
will be needed:

                                                          Personnel needed           Personnel available
    Coast Guard                                                              500                            100
    Contractors                                                    1,200-l ,500                         1,000
                                                          Equipment needed          Equipment available
    Inner harbor boom                                                75,000 feet                 66,350 feet
    Sorbent boom                                                     75.000 feet                 40.000 feet
    Deep sea curtain                                                 25,000 feet                  5,000 feet
    Vacuum trucks                                                              50                            55
    Vactors                                                                   10                             10
    Skimmers                                                                  12                                  2
    Oil storaae bladders                              3 million-aallon capacitv                       none
    Oil storage tanks ashore                          3 million-gallon capacity             none dedicated‘
    Lightering barges                                 3 million-gallon capacity             none dedicated’
    Workboats                                                                 100                           101
    Workboats (over 26 feet)                                                   20                       none
    Command post trailers wrth
       communications                                                        4-6                        none
     Radios                                                                   200                            24
     Cellular teleohones                                                       20                                 8
     Beepers with displav/voice feature                                        60                       none
     Fax machines for all command posts                                      6-8                                  2
     Passenger vehicles                                                        25                                 7

    ‘These will never be dedicated, but there are resources available locally to meet these requirements.    It
    will depend on whether or not the tanks or barges are full and/or available and the type of product
    spllled vs. what type of products the tanks hold.

    Page17                              GAO/RCED-gO-g3OilSpillsinPhlladelphiaandNewYorkPorts
                        Appendix I
                                          of Adequacy of Spill
                        Coast Guard Analysis
                        ReapomeResourcealn the Philadelpkh and
                        New York Ports

                        “There is a need for backup communications equipment. All radios . . . available for
                        use are limited in their range and battery life. Cellular telephones are also limited in
                        their battery life, and are only useful so long as they are within range of an avail-
                        able network and so long as the network is not tied up with other users.

                        “Currently there is an inadequate number of telephone lines at the base. While there
                        are 200 telephone line connections, only 12 are active. This means that in the event
                        of a major spill, there will be a flood of incoming and outgoing calls. All currently
                        available telephone lines will be busy whether or not they are in actual use. This
                        could severely hamper operations and the ability of the OSC[on-scene coordinator]
                        to effectively coordinate response actions. In general, telephone and electrical com-
                        panies are reluctant to provide emergency service connections without conducting
                        the required credit checks. The Coast Guard needs to make the telephone and elec-
                        tric companies aware of the situation to help ensure rapid hookup services are pro-
                        vided for the base and satellite command posts.”

                        The Captain of the Port, New York, provided this general overview of
New York Port           response capabilities, without reference to a specific worst case spill
Resource Capabilities   size:

                        “As a major industrial area, the Port of New York has tremendous commercial
                        resources available in the event of a major oil spill. The port has vessel repair facili-
                        ties, a large fleet of tugs and barges, and numerous marine service companies that
                        can assist with different emergency vessel-related incidents. With excellent
                        intermodal transportation links, the port can fully support any out-of-region logisti-
                        cal needs by air, rail, and highway when necessary. In addition, the Port of New
                        York has more than adequate sources of commercially available oil pollution
                        response equipment.

                         “There are ten pollution cleanup companies in the COTP [Captain of the Port] New
                         York zone with which the Coast Guard maintains basic ordering agreements. These
                         companies maintain varying amounts of oil containment and recovery equipment,
                         including booms, portable skimmers, vacuum trucks, small boats, and trained per-
                         sonnel. If a spill is federalized, the OSCcan call any number of them for response to
                         the incident.

                         “The Clean Harbors Co-op, founded by a number of oil companies in the port, has
                         sufficient equipment to deal with an estimated 40,000-barrel [ 1,680,000-gallon] oil
                         spill. This includes nine miles of containment booms, six workboats, fifteen deploy-
                         ment boats, seven self-propelled skimmer boats, dispersant spray equipment, a high
                         volume oil transfer system, a mobile command post, and many other pieces of equip-
                         ment for oil containment and recovery. The resources of this cooperative are avail-
                         able not only to its members, but other parties, including the Coast Guard on a
                         rental basis.

                         “As a recent development, the Petroleum Industry Response Organization (PIRO) is
                         planning to establish one of five regional response centers in the Port of New York.

                         Page 18                       GAO/RCEBM        Oil Spilla in Philadelphia   and New York Ports
Appendix I
Coast Guard halyda     of Adequacy of Spill
Response Resources   in the Philadelphia and
New York Porta

The New York PIRO center will be equipped for a 200,000-barrel[8,400,000-gallon]
oil pollution incident and will be responsible for the New England and Mid-Atlantic
areas of the U.S.”

Page 19                          GAO/WED-90-M   Oil Spilla in Philadelphia   and New York Porta
Appendix II

Objectives,Scope,and Methodology

              On April 13, 1989, Senator Frank R. Lautenberg, Chairman, Subcommit-
              tee on Transportation and Related Agencies, Senate Committee on
              Appropriations, asked us to investigate the government response to the
              Exxon Valdez oil spill, and more broadly, federal policies and practices
              for preventing and responding to oil spills. As part of that request, he
              also asked us to examine the adequacy of contingency plans and equip-
              ment for the Philadelphia and New York ports. We subsequently met
              with his staff and agreed that an ongoing Coast Guard assignment
              would address the Exxon Valdez issues raised. We also agreed to evalu-
              ate oil spill response preparations and capabilities, and Coast Guard
              authority to manage responses for the ports of Philadelphia and New
              York, and to examine measures that can be taken nationally to help pre-
              vent major oil spills from occurring in the future.

              We testified on the results of our work on the Exxon Valdez oil spill
              incident before the Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Navigation, House
              Committee on Merchant Marine and Fisheries, on August 10, 1989,’ and
              issued a follow-up report on October 30, 1989.2

              For the portion of the request regarding Philadelphia and New York, we
              conducted our work from May through September 1989 at the U.S.
              Coast Guard headquarters, in Washington, D.C.; Coast Guard district
              offices in Boston, Massachusetts, and Portsmouth, Virginia; the Marine
              Safety Office, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; and Group New York, Cap-
              tain of the Port and the Marine Inspection Office, in New York, New

              To achieve our objectives, we interviewed Coast Guard officials at the
              Coast Guard headquarters and at the district and local offices we vis-
              ited. We also interviewed officials from the Delaware Bay and River
              Cooperative, Lewes, Delaware; the Clean Harbors Cooperative, Perth
              Amboy, New Jersey; and oil spill cleanup contractors having agreements
              with the Coast Guard in the Philadelphia and New York ports. In addi-
              tion, we interviewed officials from the Pilots Association for the Bay
              and River Delaware, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and the United New
              York/New Jersey Sandy Hook Pilots Benevolent Association, Staten
              Island, New York.

              ‘Adequacy of Preparation and Response Related to Ekxon Valdez Oil Spill (GAO/T-RCED-89-59).

              2Coast Guard: Adequacy of Preparation and Response to Exxon Valdez Oil Spill (GAOiRCED-90-44).

              Page 20                         GAO/RcED-m        Oil Spilla in Philadelphia   and New York Ports
Appendix II
Objectives, Scope, and Methodology

We reviewed pertinent reports and documents at Coast Guard headquar-
ters, district, and local offices. We also attended a July 17, 1989, hearing
on the Presidente Rivera oil spill before the Subcommittee on Oversight
and Investigations, House Committee on Merchant Marine and Fisheries,
and attended a July 13, 1989, hearing on oil spills in the coastal waters
off Rhode Island, the Delaware River, and the Houston Ship Channel
before the Subcommittee on Environmental Protection, Senate Commit-
tee on Environment and Public Works.

 Page 21                         GAO/BCED-90-82   Oil Spih   in Philadelphia   and New York Porta
Appendix III

Major Contributors to This Report

Resources,              Steven R. Gazda, Assignment Manager
Community, and          Robert G. Taub, Evaluator
Development Division,
Washington, D.C.

Office of General

Philadelphia Regional   Michael R. Piskai, Evaluator-in-Charge
Office                  Lindley R. Higgins, Evaluator
                        Galen van Rensselaer, Evaluator

 (344448)                Page 22                  GAO/B(lTED90-83   011 Spilla ln Philadelphia   and New York Ports