Washington State Department of Ecology - December 16, 2013

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Ecology adopts emergency rule for oil contingency planning

OLYMPIA – The Washington Department of Ecology (Ecology) filed an emergency rule Friday that amends the Oil Spill Contingency Plan.

The emergency rule reflects changes in federal regulations. Also, in its current form, the rule language and definitions do not provide Ecology with clear regulatory authority over certain contingency plans.

Federal regulations will soon require cargo vessels to develop plans for how to respond to oil spills. Ecology is amending and clarifying its rule to ensure strong coordination between federal and state programs.

Ecology also found inconsistencies within the state Oil Spill Contingency Plan (WAC 173-182), and inconsistencies between the rule and applicable statue (RCW 88.46.060). Until recently, only non-profit corporations that develop oil spill plans for large commercial vessels have been approved by Ecology to cover multiple vessels under one plan. The current rule will be updated so that all corporations adhere to the same requirements.

“The amendments are necessary to protect public health and the environment by ensuring all vessel owners follow the laws and have the right resources in the event of an oil spill,” said Dale Jensen, Spills Program manager. “In its current form, the language and definitions don’t provide clear regulatory direction to certain contingency plans.”

Jensen said amending the rule ensures all plans are subjected to the same requirements, regardless of who, or what type of organization, submits a plan for approval.

The emergency rule will be in place for 120 days. Ecology will file for a permanent rule near the end of December.

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Media Contacts:

Lisa Copeland, Ecology communications, (360) 407-6990 office; (360) 515-6868 cell

Amanda Righi, Spills program, contact information (360) 407-7040

For more information:

Ecology Spills Program (www.ecy.wa.gov/programs/spills/spills.html)

Ecology’s social media (www.ecy.wa.gov/about/newmedia.html)