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RULE §19.34Duties of Responsible Person

(a) In the event of an actual or threatened unauthorized discharge of oil into Texas coastal waters, it is the duty of the responsible person to immediately initiate response action, or to ensure that the person in charge will initiate response action. The responsible person is the owner or operator of a vessel or facility from which an unauthorized discharge of oil emanates or threatens to emanate. The person in charge is the person at the vessel or facility who is empowered by the responsible person to initiate response actions and to perform all actions necessary to prevent, abate, contain, and remove all pollution. The responsible person or the person in charge must inform the General Land Office (GLO) of the person's strategy for responding to the unauthorized discharge, including whether the facility's or vessel's discharge prevention and response plan will be adequate for abating, containing, and removing pollution or whether it appears that an adequate response to the discharge will require deviation from the plan. The response strategy and proposed deviations from the plan must be reported to the on-scene coordinator on a regular basis throughout response operations.

(b) The GLO may determine that the responsible person is unknown or appears unwilling or unable to respond adequately to the discharge, including reasonably foreseeable worst case scenarios of the discharge. The commissioner may delegate this determination to the state on-scene coordinator. In the event of such a determination the state on-scene coordinator may order the responsible person to take certain response actions. The state on-scene coordinator may also initiate response action by the state, either in addition to or in lieu of further response actions by the responsible person. As soon as possible after a determination of inadequate response, the state on-scene coordinator will notify the responsible person or the person acting for the responsible person of the inadequacy of response and inform the person of the intended corrective action. A determination that a responsible person appears unwilling or unable to respond adequately will be made by evaluating the resources committed to the response, the degree of cooperation with directions of the on-scene coordinator, the ability to commit further resources, and adherence to response and contingency plans.

(c) The responsible person or anyone acting on behalf of the responsible person must notify the state on-scene coordinator if the person intends not to comply with, or has not complied with, state response orders or actions. The GLO may determine the person has unreasonably failed to comply with state response actions if noncompliance is for any reason other than an objective and reasonable belief that compliance unavoidably conflicts with federal requirements or poses an unjustifiable risk to public safety or natural resources. Any failure to comply may be grounds for a determination of inadequate response under subsection (b) of this section.

(d) The responsible person must orally state the reasons for noncompliance with an order of the state on-scene coordinator and must give written justification for the refusal within 48 hours as required by OSPRA, §40.106.

(e) The responsible person is required to provide an emergency response plan consistent with 29 Code of Federal Regulations §1910.120 for the health and safety of spill response personnel at the spill response scene. In order to comply with the National Contingency Plan, responsible persons must ensure that contractors and others under their employ have an emergency response plan program for the health and safety of personnel responding during the spill response. Failure to provide an emergency response plan for the health and safety of responders will be considered a failure to adequately respond to a spill event.

(f) The responsible person is required to respond and operate in a manner consistent with the National Contingency Plan and any applicable area or local contingency plan.

(g) The GLO will utilize the Incident Command System for all spills where a state on-scene coordinator is appointed by the commissioner.

Source Note: The provisions of this §19.34 adopted to be effective February 21, 1992, 17 TexReg 1109; amended to be effective May 14, 1993, 18 TexReg 2849; amended to be effective March 6, 1995, 20 TexReg 1261; amended to be effective January 27, 2013, 38 TexReg 296

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