Washington Dept. of Ecology, Washington Utilities & Transportation Commission,
Washington Military’s Emergency Management Division
News Release - December 1, 2014

Draft oil transportation study delivered to Legislature
Recommends improvements in rail safety and spill response

Today the Washington Department of Ecology delivered a comprehensive report to state legislators outlining key recommendations to improve public safety in response to the rapid increase of oil transportation by rail through Washington state.

The Legislature requested the study based on recent changes in how crude oil moves through rail corridors and Washington waters. The Marine and Rail Oil Transportation Study focuses on developing recommendations to foster public health and safety, environmental protection, and respect for tribal treaty rights.

The Department of Ecology coordinated with the Utilities and Transportation Commission (UTC) and the Washington Military Department’s Emergency Management Division (EMD) to research and compile the report. The team will deliver a final report to the Legislature March 1, 2015.

The draft report details approximately 40 recommendations for protecting the people and environment of Washington from an oil train derailment or spill.

In June, Gov. Jay Inslee asked for preliminary findings and recommendations, which the team delivered on Oct. 1. That preliminary report contained a prioritized list of 12 legislative and budget recommendations that focus on emergency preparedness and response for the 2015-2017 biennium.

In our survey of first responders, we heard from a large percentage of districts that believe they need additional training or resources to effectively respond to a train derailment and fire,” said Karen Ferreira, EMD’s Marine-Rail Oil Study Coordinator. “We are committed to working with communities, as well as our state Legislature, to ensure first responders at every level receive the support they need to keep our neighborhoods and citizens safe.”

Ecology spill response experts are confident that Washington can enhance its ability to respond to a hazardous material event, however, it will require additional resources at the both the state and federal level.

“Washington has a superb record for oil spill prevention, preparedness and response to our waters,” said Dale Jensen, Spills program manager at Ecology. “We need – and can achieve with the proper resources and federal help – the same level of standard for spills on the inland portions of our state.”

Along with Ecology, UTC, and EMD, contributing agencies include the Federal Railroad Administration and the Washington State Department of Transportation.

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Contacts:

Lisa Copeland, Washington Department of Ecology, (360) 407-6990
Amanda Maxwell, Utilities and Transportation Commission, (360) 664-1116
Karina Shagren, Washington Military Department, (253) 512-8222