Mission Statement


Washington State is represented in the Oil Spill Task Force by the Department of Ecology’s Spill Prevention, Preparedness and Response Program. The mission of the Program is to protect Washington’s environment, public health, and safety through a comprehensive spill prevention, preparedness, and response program. It focuses on prevention of oil spills to Washington waters and land, as well as planning for a rapid, aggressive, and well-coordinated response to oil and hazardous substance spills whenever they occur.

Spill prevention, Preparedness, and Response Program


Strengthening Oil Transportation Safety Act

In 2018, the Washington Legislature passed the Strengthening Oil Transportation Safety Act. Under it, E2SSB 6269 takes steps to enhance the safety of marine transportation and protect the state’s waters from oil spills. It places an emphasis on improving readiness to respond to sinking and submerging oils. The bill specifically directs our Spills Program to address multiple policy initiatives. We continue to carry out parts of the act, including planning for the next Salish Sea Shared Waters Forum, and writing a report on how the Spills Program is funded.


To address sinking and submerging oils, we are conducting rulemaking under the Act to update oil spill contingency plans, we are using oil spill drills to verify the updates, and we will be approving contractors that provide spill management and wildlife rehabilitation service under approved contingency plans


Our risk assessments help prepare and plan for response to oil-related incidents that could impact major waterways. By evaluating when and how oil moves through the state and the associated risks, we can make recommendations for cost-effective spill prevention measures while protecting public health and safety, the state’s economy, and the environment. We have recently completed risk assessments in Grays Harbor, the Columbia River, the Salish Sea, and for marine and rail oil transportation.

Response Grants

In 2018, we provided 25 oil spill equipment grants totaling $2.8 million to tribes, local fire departments, agencies, cities, ports and other public entities, giving their first responders the best tools to respond before we can get there. That year we also provided $80,000 in Coastal Protection Fund grants for projects funded by fines paid by companies or individuals responsible for spills. 


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Don’t forget. May is American Wetlands Month. Celebrate! Learn! Explore!

As we get ready for the Memorial Day weekend and returning safely to limited outdoor activities, we encourage you to visit a scenic wetlands near you. Washington’s wetlands are now teeming with a variety of different plant and animal life. Cattails, skunk cabbage, blue herons, flowering vegetation, songbirds, fish, frogs, and waterfowl are either out or emerging.

Did you know that according to a 1990 report to Congress, that wetlands cover about 930,000 acres in Washington? That’s 2% of the state’s total land area. But since the 1780s, the state has lost 31% of its original wetlands areas. Wetlands are critical to the health of our stream and river drainage systems – also called watersheds.

We are responsible for protecting, restoring, and managing Washington’s remaining 938,000 acres of wetlands. Wetlands critical to our state’s environmental and economic health. They help reduce flooding and erosion, filter out pollutants from our drinking water, and offer safe places for boating, fishing, birdwatching, and other recreation activities.

Wetlands offer vital habitat for fish and wildlife. One iconic wetland species is the Oregon spotted frog. The amphibian was once widespread in many wetland areas of our state, but due to habitat loss and invasive species such as bullfrogs, the number of spotted frogs has plummeted by 75%. The native frog is now found in just a few wetlands in Klickitat, Skagit, Skamania, Thurston, and Whatcom counties.

For the past 5 years, however, the Samish Indian Nation has been working with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to help the frogs recover in the Samish River. An encouraging effort to save an important Washington wetlands species.

We have more information about the recovery efforts. We also have lots of information to share about state wetlands. Get out and explore this weekend.

And always remember when visiting a wetland at a local or state park, or other state-managed lands, to consider your safety and the safety of others by following state guidelines.

A visit to a Washington wetland is awaiting you!





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As we prepare to re-enter the world with cautious optimism, many questions remain about the extent to which we can return to our old way of life. Can we pick up where we left off with parties, gatherings, and crowds or are our ideas about proximity to others forever changed?

This month’s critter demonstrates that it might just be possible to embrace togetherness — at a safe distance. Read all about it in our blog: ecology.wa.gov/Blog/Posts/May-2020/The-Solitary-Pink-Mouth-Hydroid-Keeps-it-Together

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Especially in times of COVID, it's important that we provide quality assurance for environmental laboratories across the state. Daniel Baker,👇 an Ecology chemist, helped conduct our first virtual audit of a commercial lab on May 13. Our lab auditors ensure quality science continues at labs throughout the state. Read our blog for more:

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1 week ago

Washington Department of Ecology

Forty years ago on the morning of May 18, 1980, a magnitude 5.1 earthquake triggered the collapse of the summit and north flank of Mount St. Helens and formed the largest landslide in recorded history. The mountain is known as Lawetlat'la to the indigenous Cowlitz people. The eruption killed more than 50 people and deposited ash in 11 states. Gas rich magma and super-heated groundwater trapped inside the volcano were suddenly released in a powerful lateral blast. In less than three minutes, 230 square miles of forest lay flattened.

Before the eruption, the top of the mountain used to be a perfectly rounded peak, but see that little dome in the middle? The mountain is growing back its peak, a couple of inches a year.

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