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TIR 04-20: Uniform Oil Response and Prevention Fee

This Technical Information Release (“TIR”) explains the uniform oil response and prevention fee (“the fee”) contained in Chapter 251 of the Acts of 2004, An Act Relative to Oil Spill Prevention and Response in Buzzards Bay and Other Harbors and Bays of the Commonwealth (“the Act”), signed on August 4, 2004.  The act amended the General Laws by adding chapter 21M.

1. Definition of Terms

Crude Oil, an unrefined or unprocessed liquid solution of hydrocarbons occurring naturally in the rock strata of certain geological formations.

Marine Terminal, wharves, bulkheads, quays, piers, docks and other berthing locations and adjacent storage or adjacent areas and structures associated with the primary movement of cargo or materials from vessel to shore or shore to vessel including structures which are devoted to receiving, handling, holding, consolidating and loading or delivery of waterborne shipments or passengers, including areas devoted to the maintenance of the terminal or equipment.

Petroleum Product, petroleum or a petroleum by product, including, but not limited to, fuel oil, gasoline, diesel, kerosene, aviation jet fuel, aviation gasoline, lubricating oils, oily sludge, oil refuse, oil mixed with other wastes, crude oils, or other liquid hydrocarbons, regardless of specific gravity.  Petroleum product shall not include liquefied petroleum gas, including, but not limited to, liquefied natural gas, propane, or butane.

Vessel, every watercraft or other artificial contrivance used, or capable of being used, as a means of transportation on water, whether self propelled or otherwise, including barges and tugs. 

2.  Oil Spill Prevention and Response Trust Fund

Section 8(a) of chapter 21M establishes the Oil Spill Prevention and Response Trust Fund (“the fund”).  The purposes of this dedicated fund include covering the costs of spill prevention, responding to and remediating oil spills, providing interest-free emergency loans and paying damage claims that can not otherwise be compensated, providing training and support to state and municipal responders, and paying for vessel navigational safety improvements.

The fund is financed from various sources including any costs recovered from parties responsible for remediating the oil spill and from the uniform oil response and prevention fee.  The Act directs the Commissioner of Environmental Protections (“DEP”) to set the fee, at not less than $0.02 for each barrel of petroleum product or crude oil, unless the Commissioner finds that a lesser fee will cause the fund to reach $10 million within six (6) months.  After consultation with the Department of Revenue (“DOR”), the Commissioner of DEP determined that a lesser fee would not cause the above limit to be reached within 6 months and, accordingly, set the fee at $0.02 per barrel, effective September 1, 2004.  Whenever the Commissioner, in consultation with DOR, estimates that the fund will reach $10 million and the money in the fund is not required to carry out the purposes of the fund, the Commissioner shall instruct DOR to cease collecting the fee.  The fee is imposed on the owner of petroleum products at the time the petroleum products are received at a marine terminal within the Commonwealth by means of a vessel from a point of origin outside the Commonwealth.  The Commissioner of DEP may, in consultation with DOR, reduce or eliminate the fee in accordance with the above provisions of the Act. Any such adjustment to the fee will be announced in a future TIR.

3. Collection and Remission of the Uniform Oil Response and Prevention Fee

The marine terminal operator registered under chapter 21M collects the fee from the owner of the petroleum product or crude oil upon the receipt of the petroleum product or crude oil at the marine terminal.  Payment of the fee by the owner of the petroleum product or crude oil to the marine terminal operator relieves the owner from further liability for the fee.  The marine terminal operator must remit the fee to the Department of Revenue (“DOR”) by the 30th of each month based upon the number of barrels of petroleum product or crude oil received during the preceding month.  For receipts in the month of January, the returns are due by February 28th or by February 29th in a leap year.  The first returns, for petroleum product or crude oil received at a marine terminal in September 2004, are due by October 30, 2004.  The DOR will register the marine terminal operators that will collect and remit the fee.  The returns are available on the DOR website:  Additional information about this law is available on the DEP website:


/s/Alan LeBovidge         

Alan LeBovidge

Commissioner of Revenue



August 31, 2004

TIR 04-20