Spills photo identifier

Spills Program


Oil spill drills enable response personnel to become knowledgeable and proficient in the strengths and weaknesses of plans, equipment and procedures in order to improve them.

2015 Drill Program Updates

Drill Cycle

Ecology tracks drill progress over a three year cycle using a drill tracking matrix and has prepared a drill manual to assist you in meeting the requirements of the drill program. Plan holders are required to schedule and conduct one tabletop exercise and two deployment exercises each year. In one of the three years the tabletop must be a worst case drill scenario.

Drill Schedule – Regulation Requires Advance Scheduling

Oil spill drills are scheduled in advance on the northwest area drill calendar.

To allow enough time for drill design and planning, regulation requires:

  • Deployment drills be scheduled 30 days in advance.
  • Tabletops drills be scheduled 60 days in advance.
  • Worst case drills and out of state drills for vessel plan holders be scheduled 90 days.

This is not a flexible requirement – these dates must be met. You can view the drill calendar, and/or schedule a drill here.

Drill Planning, Design and Evaluation

Ecology will plan all drills with you, whether they are attended by state representatives or are self-certified. During drill design Ecology will let you know if an agency representative will attend. Please work with Ecology at the beginning of the design process to ensure you get the most credit for a drill.

Tabletop and Worst Case Drills

We intend to participate in the planning process for all in-state tabletop drills and attend as often as possible. Ecology will evaluate these tabletops as staffing permits. We will fill roles during the drill as you request and our budget allows.

Washington’s three vessel umbrella plans are required to systematically involve all spill management teams identified in their plan during tabletop and deployment drills. These drills may test any component of a plan, but at a minimum must include notification to the enrolled vessel-qualified individual, coordination of supplemental resources, and transition from the umbrella plan spill management team to the vessel team.

Deployment Drills Including the New Multi-Customer, Large Scale Equipment Deployment

In order to enable Ecology staff to attend and evaluate tabletop and worst case drills, Ecology will most likely only attend one of the two required deployment drills. We will plan all drills with you and will evaluate the deployment drill we attend. Plan holders will be required to submit self-certification documentation for those drills we do not attend.

Plan holders should ensure that each type of dedicated equipment listed in the plan and personnel responsible for operating the equipment are tested during each triennial cycle. If a plan holder relies on multiple PRCs, they all must participate in a drill where the plan holder is seeking credit. These drills must demonstrate the plan holder’s ability to meet the planning standards.

Drill Evaluation and Self Certification

Ecology drill evaluations will be provided for deployment, tabletop, and worst case drills. These evaluations will include the Ecology Drill Checklist and Matrix as well as photographs of deployment drills and lessons learned.

For drills that Ecology does not evaluate, self-certifications must be sent to the Ecology drill contact within 60 days of the drill date. In order to receive self-certification credit for drills, plan holders must follow the guidelines.

Out of State Drill Credit

Vessel plan holders may request drill credit for participating in out-of state table-top drills. Credit is evaluated in out-of-state tabletop drills if:

  1. Ecology has sufficient notice on the drill calendar.
  2. An opportunity to participate in the drill planning process.
  3. The out-of-state drills must be of similar scope and scale to what would have occurred in state.

Just like self-certification, out of state drill credit for table-top drills a new process. Based on lessons learned in the last few years with self-certification, out of state drill guidance is available to help plan holders understand what type of credit may be given. Feedback is welcome.

Drill Credit for Responses to Spills

Plan holders must send a written request for credit including documentation of the response (please use the self-certification guidance and any documents developed during the response) within 60 days following the completion of cleanup operations. A lessons learned summary supporting the request for drill credit must be submitted within 90 days of the completion of cleanup operations.


Contingency Plans

Toolkit for Drills and Spills

Northwest Area Contingency Plan

Geographic Response Plans

Coastal Atlas

FEMA ICS Independent Study Online Courses


Drill checklist (Word format)

Table top matrix (Excel format)

Out of state drill credit guidance

Self-certification drill credit guidance

Planholder worst case drill years and drill cycle

2013 lessons learned

2014 Table top lessons learned

2014 Deployment lesson learned


Howard Zorzi

Jared Woods

Stephen Nishikawa