Department of Ecology News Release - October 13, 2016

New rule updates oil spill preparedness for pipelines

OLYMPIA – The Washington Department of Ecology has adopted an updated rule that enhances the safety of transporting oil by pipelines in Washington.

The newly updated rule reflects the need for pipeline contingency plans to address oil spill response in marine and inland areas of Washington. The rule was previously updated 10 years ago when planning standards were only developed to align with marine terminal standards.

Contingency plans ensure that capable personnel are pre-trained and equipment and resources are pre-staged if oil spills along a pipeline route. Preparedness and planning help support responses by reducing spill impacts to public health, the environment and cultural resources.

“We updated air monitoring requirements with the goal of protecting people and responders from harmful emissions during oil spills,” said Dale Jensen, Ecology’s spills program manager. “And we improved our spills-to-ground requirements to help improve emergency responses when spills may threaten groundwater aquifers.”

The rule also updates regulation definitions and clarifies ‘worst-case discharge’ calculations for pipelines, in line with existing federal regulations. Additionally, the updated rule ensures that our state achieves the highest protection standards by requiring best technology, staffing levels, training procedures and operational methods in contingency plans.

Washington has hundreds of miles of pipelines transporting oil through the state. The longest is the BP Olympic pipeline that spans 400 miles from Blaine to Portland, Ore. In 2014, pipelines moved more than 7.4 billion gallons of oil, making pipelines the primary mode of oil transportation in the state.

Lisa Copeland, Ecology communications, 360-407-6990, @EcologyWA
Sonja Larson, Ecology spills preparedness rule writer, 360-407-6682