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Commanding Officer
Marine Safety Unit Portland
US Coast Guard
6767 N. Basin Ave.
Portland, OR 97217-3992
Tel: (503) 240-9310

MSU Portland

Environmental Response: Environmental Protection

At MSU Portland one of our main objectives is to protect and maintain environmental safety for recreational purposes and for marine wildlife.

Environmental Protection is a primary mission of the United States Coast Guard. Under the authority provided by the Federal Water Pollution Control Act of 1972 (FWPCA) and the Clean Water Act of 1977 (CWA), the Coast Guard is able to carry out this vital mission. Since the enactment of the Refuse Act of 1899, it has been the Coast Guard's responsibility to protect the Marine Wildlife and Natural Resources of its precious environment. The MSU Portland Marine Environmental Response Team works closely with Washington Department of Ecology (DOE) and Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) to ensure the protection of Inland and Coastal environments.

Governing Laws

These are the primary laws that govern our function and provide us the authority to complete our Mission:      

Federal Water Pollution Control Act (FWPCA) 33 U.S.C. §§ 1251-1387
The Federal Water Pollution Control Act, popularly known as the Clean Water Act, is a comprehensive statute aimed at restoring and maintaining the chemical, physical and biological integrity of the nation's waters. Enacted originally in 1948, the Act was amended numerous times until it was reorganized and expanded in 1972. It continues to be amended almost every year.

Oil Pollution Prevention, Response, Liability, and Compensation Act of 1990, 33 U.S.C. §§ 2701-2761
The Oil Pollution Act of 1990 was enacted in the aftermath of the Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska's Prince William Sound in 1989. The Act makes owners and operators of vessels or facilities that discharge oil strictly liable for cleanup costs and damages caused by such discharges. The act requires that virtually all oil tankers operating in U.S. waters be equipped with double hulls. The Act also requires operating, safety, crew, and maintenance changes.

Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), 42 U.S.C. § 6901 et seq.
RCRA was enacted in 1976 as an amendment to (and a complete overhaul of) the Solid Waste Disposal Act of 1965 to address the nation's growing hazardous waste disposal problem resulting primarily from industrial operations. It was designed to fill the gap left by the Clean Water Act and the Clean Air Act concerning the dumping of pollutants on the land. The intent of RCRA is the proper and safe management of hazardous waste from the time it is generated until its ultimate disposal, that is, cradle to grave.

Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899, 33 U.S.C. §§ 401-418
The Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899 is the oldest federal environmental law. The Act makes it a misdemeanor to discharge refuse matter of any kind into the navigable waters of the United States without a permit; this specific provision is known as the Refuse Act. The Rivers and Harbors Act also makes it a misdemeanor to excavate, fill, or alter the course, condition, or capacity of any port, harbor, channel, or other areas within the reach of the Act without a permit. Although many activities covered by the Rivers and Harbors Act are regulated under the Clean Water Act, the 1899 Act retains independent vitality. The Rivers and Harbors Act is administered by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Clean Water Act (CWA), 33 U.S.C. §§ 1251-1387
The Federal Water Pollution Control Act, commonly known as the Clean Water Act, is the most comprehensive federal statute concerning water pollution. It establishes a complex regulatory scheme administered by federal agencies and by the states, the goal of which is to eliminate the pollution of the waters of the United States. Under the Act, the most commonly prosecuted crime is the discharge of a pollutant into the waters of the United States without a permit or in violation of the terms of a permit. The CWA also criminalizes the discharge of dredged or fill material into wetlands except in compliance with a permit, and makes criminally enforceable the limits on the discharges of certain pollutants into publicly owned sewer systems. When violations are committed knowingly, they are felonies. When violations are committed negligently, the are misdemeanors.

Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), 42 U.S.C. § 9601 et seq.
The Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act, CERCLA, regulates the notification, response, cleanup, and liability for hazardous substances into all environmental media, including navigable water, groundwater, land, and air. The Act creates a Superfund which can be used to finance governmental response actions and to reimburse private parties for costs incurred in carrying out the cleanup of hazardous substances. CERCLA makes a broad class of parties liable for the costs of responding to a release or threat of release of hazardous substances.

PHONE: 503.240.9370
FAX: 503.240.9308

Response Department (MER)
6767 N Basin Ave.
Portland, OR 97217

Last Modified 1/12/2016