ALERT: Oil spill damage prompts FMCSA to declare regional emergency

| 4/30/2010

Friday, April 30, 2010 – With the impending need for relief and emergency supplies to help Gulf Coast-bordering states deal with encroaching oil spill, FMCSA issued an emergency declaration late Friday.

An oil slick growing at the rate of an estimated 5,000 barrels – 200,000 gallons – per day continues to edge closer to Gulf Coast shorelines more than a week after a fatal oil rig explosion in the Gulf of Mexico.

Late Friday, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration issued a wide-sweeping emergency declaration. The declaration states specific groups "are exempt from 49 CFP Parts 390-399."

The exemption applies to:

  • specialized equipment to seal the ruptured well head and to effect other immediate and necessary repairs of the oil well and/or adjacent pipelines,
  • booms, skimmers, chemical dispersants, flammable liquids and other oil containment equipment, or
  • (other equipment, supplies and materials used to provide direct assistance for emergency relief efforts related to the above oil spill

The exemption is in effect for Alabama, Florida, Louisiana and Mississippi from 2 p.m. Eastern, April 30, until 11:59 p.m. Eastern, May 14.

It is noted that the emergency declaration does not include:

  • controlled substances and alcohol use and testing requirements (49 CFR Part 382),
  • the commercial driver's license requirements (49 CFR Part 383),
  • the financial responsibility (insurance) requirements (49 CFR Part 387),
  • operating authority (49 CFR Part 365),
  • applicable size and weight requirements, or
  • any other portion of the regulations not specifically identified.

Truckers running under the exemption must have necessary paperwork to prove they are hauling a load covered by the exemption, and a copy of the declaration. Click here for a copy of the declaration.

The FMCSA emergency declaration comes a day after the Louisiana governor issued one for his state.

On Thursday, April 29, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal issued a state declaration of emergency invoking the state’s protections against price gouging.

Truckers traveling through the state during this state of emergency need to watch for spiking fuel prices. Nearly a year ago, Jindal signed a bill intended to protect consumers from being gouged at the pump during a declared emergency.

The law, which took effect in August 2009, assesses civil fines on merchants who “overcharge for goods and services, including fuel, during or in the wake of a declared emergency.”

If drivers suspect price gouging, they are urged to call Louisiana Attorney General Buddy Caldwell’s office at 1-800-351-4889 or fill out a report online.