Department of Ecology News Release - April 8, 2015

Preparing for oil spills on the Chehalis River
Public comment sought on new Ecology plan

CENTRALIA –A March 1 study on oil transport in Washington shows significant risks posed by the changing energy picture, and in particular by the growth of crude oil by rail.

In an effort to protect public health and the environment, the Washington Department of Ecology recently completed a draft contingency plan, outlining how responders would tackle an oil spill near the Chehalis River. The plan is available for public review and comment now through May 8, 2015.

The Chehalis River covers almost 120 miles as it winds through Thurston, Lewis and Grays Harbor counties. The draft plan includes 60 strategies meant to reduce damage to sensitive natural, cultural and economic resources during an oil spill.

The plan considers risks from oil trains, an oil pipeline and tanker trucks. The Olympic Pipeline includes a 25-mile stretch that crosses several tributaries of the Chehalis River, while oil trains travel on tracks that also cross the Chehalis’ tributaries.

"This plan covers the second-largest watershed in Washington," said Kathy Taylor, acting program manager for Ecology’s Spill Prevention, Preparedness and Response program. “With the rapid changes in oil transport, particularly with crude by rail, it’s important we have plans in place to protect our precious natural resources.”

The Chehalis River plan is one of eight geographic response plans Ecology aims to complete before June 30, using special funding the Washington Legislature dedicated to help our state prepare for oil spills.

Comments can be emailed to grps@ecy.wa.gov, or mailed to:

Washington Department of Ecology
Spill Prevention, Preparedness, and Response (CHER-GRP)
P.O. Box 47600
Olympia, WA 98504-7600

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Contacts:

Lisa Copeland, communications manager, lisa.copeland@ecy.wa.gov, 360-407-6990, @ecologyWA

Wendy Buffett, preparedness planner, wendy.buffett@ecy.wa.gov, 360-407-6523