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Spills Program

Risk Assessments

2014 Marine and Rail Oil Transportation Study front cover imageThe 2014 Marine and Rail Oil Transportation Study analyzes the environmental impacts of oil transportation in Washington State and the risks to public health and safety.

Washington State is experiencing rapid changes in the types of crude oils moving through our state, the methods used for oil transportation, and the locations where crude is moved. A major oil spill or fire could have severe consequences to public safety, the environment, local economies, and overall quality of life.

Columbia River Vessel Traffic Safety Assessment (CRVTSA)

The 2015 Legislature passed ESHB 1449, the Oil Transportation Safety Act, which directs Ecology to complete an evaluation and assessment of vessel traffic management and vessel traffic safety within and near the mouth of the Columbia River. This includes an analysis of the amount of new oil being transferred onto vessels as a result of rail traffic.

Ecology is consulting with a number of organizations including the U.S. Coast Guard, the Lower Columbia Region Harbor Safety Committee, Oregon pilots, and public ports. The assessment will include (but is not limited to):

  • the need for tug escorts for oil tankers, articulated tug barges, and other towed waterborne vessels or barges;
  • best achievable protection; and
  • required tug capabilities to ensure safe escort of vessels.

Recommendations to the Legislature will include vessel traffic management and vessel traffic safety measures, including recommendations for tug escort requirements for vessels transporting oil as bulk cargo.

More information:


2015 Vessel Traffic Risk Assessment (VTRA)

Strait of Juan de Fuca, Puget Sound, San Juan Islands and connecting waterways

Ecology sponsored the 2015 VTRA, which provides updated information about the risks of oil spills from commercial vessel traffic currently operating on the Salish Sea. It also models potential impacts from planned future developments as well as potential benefits from a variety of spill prevention measures.

The assessment was conducted by principal investigators from George Washington University and Virginia Commonwealth University. A workgroup with representatives from government, tribal, industry, and environmental organizations provided input and guidance to Ecology and the principal investigators.

This updated assessment is based on 2015 vessel traffic data, and builds upon previous assessments that incorporated vessel traffic data from 2005 and 2010.

More information on VTRA:


Salish Sea Risk Mitigation Workshop

At Ecology's January 2015 Salish Sea Workshop, stakeholders identified seven categories of risk for oil spills associated with vessel traffic patterns in the Salish Sea. Within each category, participants identified specific risk factors and began the process of identifying mitigation measures to address each risk factor.

The 2016 Salish Sea Risk Mitigation Workshop expanded on the 2015 effort, incorporating new recommendations from studies and efforts since January 2015.

2016 Workshop Report and Focus Sheet

2016 Workshop Presentations

To download any file, right-click the link and choose "Save As."

  1. Workshop Overview - Lisa Dally Wilson (PDF)
  2. Mitigating Risk in the Salish Sea - Captain Joe Raymond (PDF)
  3. Transport Canada Area Risk Assessment Project Overview - Michael Wallace (PDF)
  4. Ensuring and Enhancing Safety - Brian Young (PDF)
  5. Puget Sound Pilot Risk Mitigation Tool - Ed Marmol (PDF)
  6. Current State of Waterway - Scott Ferguson (PDF)
  7. Puget Sound 2015 VTRA - Brian Kirk (PDF)
  8. Vessel Traffic Trends - Mike Moore (PDF)
  9. Canadian Vessel Traffic Patterns - Bonnie Gee (PDF)
  10. Salish Sea 2015 Workshop - Scott Ferguson (PDF)

Puget Sound Pilot Video CMA Seattle