Post OPA-90 Vessel Oil Transfer Spill Prevention: The Effectiveness of Coast Guard Enforcement
Although oil spills from tanker accidents receive the most publicity, most vessel spills are not the result of accidents but of oil transfer activities. We investigate determinants of the size of vessel oil transfer spills as well as the effectiveness of Coast Guard enforcement activities in reducing their size. Vessel out-of-water and in-water oil transfer spillage functions are estimated utilizing tobit regression and detailed data on individual vessel oil transfer spills as well as Coast Guard safety/environmental enforcement activity data for the 1991–1995 period. Our estimation results suggest that Coast Guard hull but not machinery inspections are effective in reducing both out-of-water and in-water spills, patrols by air, but not by boat, are effective in reducing out-of-water spills, but neither is effective in reducing in-water spills. The results also show that the type of vessel (oil- and non-oil-cargo), vessel characteristics, vessel operations, weather/visibility conditions, and waterway type are determinants of post OPA-90 vessel oil transfer spills.