State proposes changes to strengthen oil spill requirements for facilities, vessels and pipelines

An oil spill could pose a significant threat to the environment, people and local economies. In Washington, large oil handling facilities, vessels, and pipelines are required to have oil spill contingency plans to ensure they are adequately prepared in case of a spill.

In 2018, the Legislature passed a bill directing the Washington Department of Ecology to amend the Oil Spill Contingency Plan Rule.

The proposed amendments would help bring requirements in line with the increased movement of oil across Washington and the changing nature of spills. One specific area of concern is cleanup of sinking oils. Transport of sinking oils is becoming more common in the state and these oils are difficult to clean up if spilled. Other concerns include requirements for spill management teams that direct the response efforts, and wildlife teams that deter, rescue and rehabilitate birds, mammals and other wildlife affected by a spill.

Through the rulemaking process, Ecology is proposing amendments that would:

  • Establish requirements for Ecology to review and approve independent spill management teams.
  • Require increased capability for responding to spills of oils that may submerge or sink.
  • Require vessel, facility and pipeline contingency plan holders to participate in a complex, large-scale drill.
  • Update contingency plan requirements so vessels and facilities have consistent standards for training, operations and response technology.
  • Establish standards for oiled wildlife response service providers.

This rulemaking is separate from the current effort to update changes to oil spill response requirements for railroads. However, both efforts are being conducted on a similar timeline.

The public is invited to weigh in on these changes through Oct. 6, 2019.

Submit comments in writing

Sonja Larson, Rulemaking Lead
Department of Ecology, Spills Program
PO Box 47600
Olympia, WA 98504-7600

Submit comments at a public hearing
Attend a public hearing to see a presentation about the rulemaking, ask questions, and submit a formal testimony.Sept. 17, 2019 — 1 p.m.

Courtyard Seattle-Everett Downtown
3003 Colby Avenue
Everett, WA 98201

Sept. 19, 2019 — 1 p.m.

Ramada by Wyndham Spokane Airport
8909 West Airport Drive
Spokane, WA 99224

Sept. 24, 2019 — 1 p.m.

Hilton Vancouver Washington
301 W. 6th Street
Vancouver, WA 98660

Join online from your computer, tablet or smartphone:
Join by phone:
Access code 424 089 589.
Please note: Comments will not be accepted through the chat box by persons viewing the webinar.

Assistance for disabilities
Contact Ecology’s ADA Coordinator by Sept. 12, 2019
Phone: 360-407-6831
TTY: People with speech disability may call TTY at 877-833-6341. People with impaired hearing may call Washington Relay Service at 711.

For full information, visit Ecology’s website.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *