Spills photo identifier

Spills Program

Tank Vessels

A "tank vessel" is defined as any ship that is constructed or adapted to carry, or that carries, oil in bulk as cargo or cargo residue [RCW 88.46.010(20)]. The following links provide information on requirements for tank vessels operating in Washington State waters.

Oil Transfer Requirements VBAP/EcoPro Contingency Plans

Oil Transfer Requirements

Oil transfer requirements refer to the procedures and equipment necessary for safe oil transfers. There are two types of oil transfers - vessels delivering oil to a facility and vessels delivering oil to another vessel. Vessels delivering oil to a facility will follow the oil transfer requirements for facilities. Vessels delivering oil to another vessel will follow oil transfer requirements for vessels.

The checklist Ecology uses when inspecting a vessel oil transfer can be used to help operators know what is expected during a transfer.

Advance notice of transfer
Vessels delivering over 100 gallons of oil in bulk to a facility or a non-recreational vessel must submit an advance notice of transfer (ANT). This ANT should be submitted in accordance with the local US Coast Guard Captain of the Port requirements. Submitting an ANT through Ecology's online system satisfies Washington and US Coast Guard reporting requirements.

If the vessel is receiving oil as fuel, expect to have the area around the transfer boomed. The vessel delivering oil is required to supply the boom and deploy it before the transfer begins and to retrieve it when the transfer is finished. If the vessel is delivering oil to a facility, the transfer is required to be pre-boomed. All large oil facilities in Washington are equipped with boom and the ability to deploy and retrieve it.

Bunkering requirements apply to all operations that refuel a self-propelled covered vessel 300 gross tons or greater, and to all owners, operators, persons-in-charge, and other personnel involved in bunkering in state waters.

Voluntary Best Achievable Protection and Exceptional Compliance Program

Ecology does not require that tank vessels have spill prevention plans. However, tank vessels, tank barges, and articulated tank barges are encouraged to participate in Washington's Voluntary Best Achievable Protection and Exception Compliance Program (VBAP/EcoPro). These standards are designed to fill important safety gaps which Washington state has identified as critical for our waters. By utilizing safety management systems which exceed federal regulatory minimums, we improve the safety of Washington waters. The standards were developed jointly with industry representatives to provide more stringent but attainable operating procedures by today’s proactive marine oil transportation companies. Companies participating in this non-regulatory program will receive public recognition for their commitment to environmental and safety excellence in their vessels’ operations. For more information contact Lori Crews.

Contingency Plans

Each company is required to develop, maintain, and practice their contingency plan or sign up with an approved Washington state umbrella plan. All plans are reviewed and approved by Ecology on a five-year cycle.

Drill Program
Tank and other covered vessels are  required, under federal standards, to participate in the National Preparedness and Response Program drill program (PREP). Under state rules you must demonstrate your ability to effectively implement your plan in the event of a spill. Ecology inspectors may conduct drills to test the ability of vessel personnel to notify authorities in the event of an oil spill, as required by their contingency plan.

Financial Responsibility

Washington State has financial responsibility requirements that exceed federal requirements for:

Type of Vessel Financial Requirements
Tank vessels and large barges of equal or greater than 300 gross tons $1 billion
Small tank barges of 300 or less gross ton, carrying persistent oil $2 million or $3000 per barrel of total capacity; whichever is greater
Small tank barges of 300 or less gross ton carrying non-persistent oil $1500 per barrel of total capacity

Chapter 88.40 RCW describes these requirements, provides information on means of establishing documentation of financial responsibility, and sets conditions for vessels to enter or operate on Washington waters.

Chapter 317-50 WAC addresses financial responsibility for small tank barges and oil spill response barges.

View an interactive map of oil transfers in Washington.
Oil transfers in Washington