Marine Log

June 9, 2006

Washington State proposes new spill prevention rules

The Washington State Department of Ecology is seeking public comment on a set of three proposed rules designed to prevent oil spills into Washington waters and to improve response readiness.

The department is proposing to update state rules regarding how oil will be transferred over water involving tank vessels, cargo and passenger ships, oil storage facilities, marinas and, for the first time, tank trucks and rail cars.

The proposed rules establish spill prevention and response standards for facility and vessel operators who transfer oil to or from vessels. The draft rules would require operators to follow safe oil transfer practices to prevent spills.

Under the proposal, some vessels and oil-handling facilities would be required to deploy oil-spill containment boom prior to transferring oil. In addition, the new rules would expand the department's current oil transfer inspection program, adding more field inspectors to oversee fueling activities.

The department is also proposing to update the state oil spill contingency plan rule that requires tank vessels, cargo and passenger ships, oil storage facilities, and pipeline companies to demonstrate that they can mount an effective, timely response if they spill oil. The proposed rule focuses on early spill response actions, staging response equipment throughout the state, and conducting scheduled and unannounced spill readiness drills.

"Oil spills, especially those that happen during oil transfers, can and should be prevented," said Dale Jensen who manages spill prevention, preparedness and response activities for Ecology. "Our goal is to prevent oil spills to Washington waters and ensure that if a spill does occur, a clear plan is in place to minimize environmental and economic damage."

The public comment period for all three draft rules is open until July 26. The department will hold five meetings to share information and collect public comments:

For more information:

To view proposed oil transfer rules:

Proposed oil spill contingency plan rule: