|HORNBECK OFFSHORE SERVICES INC /LA filed this Form 10-K on 02/28/2018|
cannot take advantage of liability limits if the spill was caused by gross negligence or willful misconduct or resulted from violation of a federal safety, construction or operating regulation. In addition, for an Outer Continental Shelf facility or a vessel carrying crude oil from a well situated on the Outer Continental Shelf, the limits apply only to liability for damages (e.g. natural resources, real or personal property, subsistence use, reserves, profits and earnings capacity, and public services damages). The owner or operator of such facility or vessel is liable for all removal costs resulting from a discharge or substantial threat of discharge without limits. If the party fails to report a spill or to cooperate fully in the cleanup, the liability limits likewise do not apply and certain defenses may not be available. Moreover, OPA 90 imposes on responsible parties the need for proof of financial responsibility to cover at least some costs in a potential spill. As required, we have provided satisfactory evidence of financial responsibility to the USCG for all of our vessels over 300 tons. OPA 90 does not preempt state law, and states may impose liability on responsible parties and requirements for removal beyond what is provided in OPA 90.
OPA 90 also imposes ongoing requirements on a responsible party, including preparedness and prevention of oil spills and preparation of an oil spill response plan. We have engaged the Marine Spill Response Corporation to serve as our Oil Spill Removal Organization for purposes of providing oil spill removal resources and services for our operations in U.S. waters as required by the USCG. In addition, our Tank Vessel Response Plan and Non-Tank Vessel Response Plan have been approved by the USCG.
The Clean Water Act imposes strict controls on the discharge of pollutants into the navigable waters of the United States. The Clean Water Act also provides for civil, criminal and administrative penalties for any unauthorized discharge of oil or other hazardous substances in reportable quantities and imposes liability for the costs of removal and remediation of an unauthorized discharge, including the costs of restoring damaged natural resources. Many states have laws that are analogous to the Clean Water Act and also require remediation of accidental releases of petroleum or other pollutants in reportable quantities. Our OSVs routinely transport diesel fuel to offshore rigs and platforms and also carry diesel fuel for their own use. Our OSVs also transport bulk chemical materials used in drilling activities and liquid mud, which contain oil and oil by-products. We maintain vessel response plans as required by the Clean Water Act to address potential oil and fuel spills.
The Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980, also known as “CERCLA” or “Superfund,” and similar laws impose liability for releases of hazardous substances, pollutants and contaminants into the environment. CERCLA currently exempts crude oil from the definition of hazardous substances for purposes of the statute, but our operations may involve the use or handling of other materials that may be classified as hazardous substances, pollutants and contaminants. CERCLA assigns strict, joint and several liability to each responsible party for response costs, as well as natural resource damages. Under CERCLA, responsible parties include not only owners and operators of vessels but also any person who arranged for the disposal or treatment, or arranged with a transporter for transport for disposal or treatment of hazardous substances, and any person who accepted hazardous substances for transport to and selected the disposal or treatment facilities. Thus, we could be held liable for releases of hazardous substances that resulted from operations by third parties not under our control or for releases associated with practices performed by us or others that were standard in the industry at the time and in compliance with existing laws and regulations.
The Resource Conservation and Recovery Act regulates the generation, transportation, storage, treatment and disposal of onshore hazardous and non-hazardous wastes and requires states to develop programs to ensure the safe treatment, storage and disposal of wastes. States having jurisdiction over our operations also have their own laws governing the generation and management of solid and hazardous waste. We generate non-hazardous wastes and small quantities of hazardous wastes in connection with routine operations. We believe that all of the wastes that we generate are handled in all material respects in compliance with the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act and analogous state statutes.
The USCG's final Ballast Rule became effective on June 21, 2012, and the EPA renewed the Vessel General Permit under the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System effective on December 19, 2013. In addition, the International Maritime Organization's, or IMO, International Convention for the Control and Management of Ships’ Ballast Water and Sediments otherwise known as the Ballast Water Management Convention, or BWMC, became effective on September 8, 2017. The BWMC has similar standards to that of the USCG and EPA ballast water regulations. These regulations require all our existing vessels to meet certain standards pertaining to ballast water discharges. An exemption to certain compliance requirements in the U.S. is provided for vessels that operate within an isolated geographic region, as determined by the USCG and EPA, respectively. Most of our vessels operating in the GoM are exempt from the ballast water treatment requirements. However, for non-exempt vessels, ballast water treatment equipment may be required to