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.
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.