Coast Guard:

Oil Spills Continue Despite Waterfront Facility Inspection Program

T-RCED-92-12: Published: Oct 24, 1991. Publicly Released: Oct 24, 1991.

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GAO discussed federal efforts to protect the marine environment from pollution caused by oil spills at waterfront facilities, where vessels load or unload. GAO noted that: (1) spills occurring at waterfront facilities account for about half of the oil spills that occur in U.S. waters; (2) in 1988, the total amount of oil spilled at waterfront facilities nationwide was more than twice the amount spilled in the Exxon Valdez accident in March 1989; (3) Coast Guard inspection records indicated that 58 percent of the facilities inspected at four major ports failed to comply with federal regulations aimed at preventing water pollution by oil; (4) the Coast Guard is not in a position to determine the impact of its inspections in reducing oil spill risks because it does not compile and analyze data needed to make this determination; and (5) although the Coast Guard is responsible for regulating and inspecting waterfront facilities, it just recently acknowledged its responsibility to inspect those pipes between the dock and storage area that pose a significant pollution risk because of their short distance from the water and their age.

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