Marine oil pollution response arrangements in Western Australia: Are you compliant?

Article published in the Regulator | Issue 1: 2017 

In October 2015, the Western Australian Government formally endorsed WestPlan: Marine Oil Pollution (Westplan – MOP) which is the state’s emergency management plan for the preparation for, response to, and recovery from a MOP emergency. The revised Westplan – MOP implemented important changes to the emergency management arrangements for a MOP emergency in WA state waters and now represents part of the national arrangements to which titleholders must comply from 1 July 2017.

In April 2016, the WA Department of Transport (DoT) established interim arrangements to allow sufficient time for the Offshore Petroleum Industry Guidance Note for Marine Oil Pollution: Response and Consultation Arrangements guidance note to be updated in consultation with NOPSEMA, titleholders and other relevant stakeholders.

Titleholders are advised that on 3 January 2017, DoT updated the guidance note.

The guidance note seeks to assist titleholders in understanding the emergency management arrangements for MOP emergencies where marine pollution originating in Commonwealth waters threatens WA state waters, their obligations under those arrangements, and DoT’s expectations regarding consultation with DoT as a relevant person during preparation of an environment plan (including the oil pollution emergency plan) and throughout the life of the activity.

The interim arrangements will conclude on 1 July 2017. Titleholders are reminded of their responsibility to consider the implications of the new emergency management arrangements in relation to the compliance of their accepted and in force environment plan, internal systems and processes and testing requirements.

NOPSEMA expects that, where applicable, titleholders will update their environment plan to reflect changes to arrangements and DoTs expectations as set out in the guidance note. NOPSEMA does not consider these changes are likely to require the submission of a proposed revision of an environment plan, however, they will likely require a titleholder to test the new response arrangements as described in their environment plan.

When updating their environment plan and associated response arrangements, titleholders are reminded they must still have in place appropriate response arrangements to respond to a MOP incident in WA state waters commensurate with the level of introduced risk. Should there be an escape of petroleum in relation to a petroleum activity, under the legislation a titleholder must eliminate or control the source of the escaped petroleum, clean up, remediate any damage to the environment, and monitor the environment to assess and address any negative impacts.

NOPSEMA planned inspections will focus on ensuring that, where applicable, titleholders have updated their environment plan (including the oil pollution emergency plan) to reflect the new emergency management arrangements, that their plans reflect DoTs expectations as set out in the guidance note and that adequate testing of amended response arrangements has been completed.

Westplan – MOP and the Offshore Petroleum Industry Guidance Note for Marine Oil Pollution: Response and Consultation Arrangements are available at transport.gov.wa. To make an enquiry relating to emergency management arrangements for a MOP emergency in WA state waters email marine.pollution@transport.wa.gov.au.