Department of Ecology News Release - April 16, 2015

Updating oil spill plans for Middle Columbia River
Public invited to provide feedback, attend workshop

VANCOUVER – As a statewide discussion continues over how to ensure safe oil transport in Washington, the Washington Department of Ecology is updating a contingency plan that outlines how responders would tackle an oil spill near the Middle Columbia River.

The plan, which focuses on protecting public health, public safety and the environment, is available for public review and comment now through May 15, 2015.

The Columbia River is one of the principal resources found in the Pacific Northwest, and a variety of natural, cultural, and economic assets are tied to its health. All of these assets are at risk of injury from oil spills. 

Potential risks to the Columbia come from oil transported on large commercial vessels, pipelines, rail cars and trucks. The majority of oil transported by rail into Washington and Oregon enters Washington at the border with Idaho near Spokane. The oil is transported west along the Columbia River to Vancouver. Finally, it heads north toward refineries in Anacortes and Ferndale, near the Canadian border.

The newly updated Middle Columbia River Geographic Response Plan covers 198 miles of the river, beginning upstream of the Bonneville Dam and ending at the Hanford Site near the Tri-Cities.

Ecology staff will be at a workshop hosted by the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and several other agencies, to share and discuss spill response plans for the Columbia River at 9 a.m. Friday, April 17. The workshop will be held in the ZR lecture hall at Columbia Gorge Community College, 400 E. Scenic Drive,  The Dalles, Ore.

The Middle Columbia 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 the state prepare for oil spills.

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

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

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Contacts:

Lisa Copeland, communications manager, 360-407-6990, @ecologyWA

Susan Vezeau, preparedness planner, 360-407-7638