Department of Ecology News Release - April 21, 2015

Updating the oil spill plan for Nisqually River
Public encouraged to provide feedback through May 20

OLYMPIA – The number of trains carrying crude oil along Washington rivers is increasing rapidly. To keep up with this trend and other changes in how oil is transported, the Washington Department of Ecology is updating contingency response plans in case of an oil spill. The most recently updated plan outlines strategies for responding to oil spills near the Nisqually River.

The Nisqually plan, first published in 1998, covers 42 miles of the lower river from the Nisqually Delta upstream to the La Grande Dam in Thurston and Pierce counties. It focuses on protecting public health, public safety and the environment, and is available for public review and comment now through May 20, 2015.

Potential risks to the Nisqually River come from oil transported by rail, highways and pipelines. 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, then crosses Interstate 5 and the Nisqually River on its way to refineries in Anacortes and Ferndale.

The plan considers several sensitive and cultural resources, such as the Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge, which is located at the mouth of the river and serves as a preserve for hundreds of species of birds and other animals.

The Nisqually 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 (NR-GRP)
P.O. Box 47600
Olympia, WA 98504-7600

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Contacts:

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

Danielle Butsick, preparedness planner, 360-407-7281