California

Mission Statement

Logo: California Department of Fish & Game

The mission of the Office of Spill Prevention and Response is to provide best achievable protection of California’s state surface waters and natural resources by preventing, preparing for and responding to spills of oil and other deleterious materials, and through restoring and enhancing affected resources.

Oil Spill Program Overview

Office of Spill Prevention and Response (OSPR), a division of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, is the lead state agency for spill response in California. OSPR was established by the Lempert-Keene-Seastrand Oil Spill Prevention and Response Act of 1990 (Act). The Act provides the OSPR Administrator with authority to direct spill response and cleanup, as well as natural resource damage assessment and restoration.

Refugio Incident, Santa Barbara, 2015 (photo: Lara Cooper / Noozhawk)

Refugio Incident, Santa Barbara, 2015 (photo: Lara Cooper / Noozhawk)

When a significant spill occurs, OSPR deploys a field response team of wardens, environmental scientists and oil spill prevention specialists to evaluate the incident and direct response efforts. OSPR uses a standardized emergency management system commonly referred to as the Incident Command System (ICS). Such a structure incorporates personnel from the U.S. Coast Guard during marine spills and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency during inland oil-related incidents, as well as other federal, state, and local government representatives.

In California certain large vessels and facilities are required to develop oil spill contingency plans, each focused on providing best achievable resource protection in the event of an oil spill. OSPR also conducts drills and exercises (some unannounced), in an effort to promote readiness in the event of a spill. Participants include OSPR staff, representatives from the oil industry, and federal, state, and local governments.

Harbor Safety Committees and Port Area Committees (jointly led by OSPR and the U.S. Coast Guard) meet regularly at the state’s five busiest ports to collect feedback from industry, recreational users, environmental groups, city/state/federal government, and labor organizations to improve safety and practices within the harbors.

Organizational Structure

As both a preparedness and response organization, the Office of Spill Prevention and Response has the California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s public trustee and custodial responsibilities for protecting, managing, and restoring the State’s wildlife and habitat. It is one of the few State agencies in the nation that has both major pollution response authority and public trustee authority.

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CDFW-OSPR trainers conducted an all-terrain vehicle-safety-rider course for field response teams this week. Wildlife officers, environmental scientists and spill specialists often need to reach isolated areas such as oiled beaches and rocky or heavily wooded terrain during a spill response. The class teaches safety lessons and techniques such as negotiating obstacles, quick turns, and hand signals to communicate with other riders. ...

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OSPR responded to an overturned tanker truck that released an estimated 7,000 gallons of gasoline at southbound Highway 99 near Atwater. First responders contained the gasoline in a dirt drainage area. No reported impacts to state water. OSPR teams oversee the cleanup. ...

Bly Channel Spill

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OSPR Environmental Scientist Anna Burkholder got top honors for her academic poster at last week’s International Oil Spill Conference in Long Beach. The poster, “Geography Response Plans: Preparing for Inland Oil Spills in California Waterways,” took first place in the Prevention/Preparedness category. Congratulations Anna!
Other staff from OSPR and the Oiled Wildlife Care Network presented on topics that included: tracking the recovery of Brown Pelicans with transmitters during the Refugio Incident, and a new app for wildlife recovery.
The #2017IOSC attracts professionals from the global response community, private sector, government, and non-governmental organizations who share best response practices and latest spill technology.
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OSPR Environmental Scientist Anna Burkholder got top honors for her academic poster at last week’s International Oil Spill Conference in Long Beach. The poster, “Geography Response Plans: Preparing for Inland Oil Spills in California Waterways,” took first place in the Prevention/Preparedness category. Congratulations Anna! Other staff from OSPR and the Oiled Wildlife Care Network presented on topics that included: tracking the recovery of Brown Pelicans with transmitters during the Refugio Incident, and a new app for wildlife recovery. The #2017IOSC attracts professionals from the global response community, private sector, government, and non-governmental organizations who share best response practices and latest spill technology.

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It was two years ago today when crude oil from a ruptured pipeline reached the coast at Refugio State Beach in Santa Barbara County. OSPR scientists, law enforcement, and support personnel were committed to the spill response from the time of the incident up until recently, when the response officially ended. Now OSPR scientists and attorneys remain committed to the restoration phase of the oil spill. For more information, visit OSPR's NRDA web page for Refugio: www.wildlife.ca.gov/OSPR/NRDA/Refugio ...

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OSPR staff are attending the International Oil Spill Conference (#2017IOSC) for professionals from the global response community, private sector, government, and non-governmental organizations who share best practices and the latest technology on spills. OSPR presented on several topics covering lessons learned from the 2015 Refugio Incident, including tribal concerns, volunteering, and community outreach. ...

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