Spills photo identifier

Spills Program

Chapter 173-185 WAC
Oil Movement by Rail and Pipeline Notification Rulemaking


In 2015, the Washington Legislature directed Ecology to develop rules on new reporting requirements for the movement of crude oil by rail and pipeline.

Ecology is proposing a new rule, Chapter 173-185 WAC, Oil Movement by Rail and Pipeline Notification, to enhance oil spill preparedness and response in Washington state. The rule will create reporting standards for facilities that receive crude oil by rail, and pipelines that transport crude oil through the state. Additionally, the rule will identify reporting standards for Ecology to share information with emergency responders, local governments, tribes, and the public.

This rulemaking will:

  • Specify the applicability of the rule.
  • Define terms used in the rule and ensure consistency with other Ecology regulations.
  • Establish advance notice requirements for facilities that receive crude oil by rail.

  • Establish biannual notice requirements for pipelines that transport crude oil through the state.
  • Identify the manner that information must be submitted to Ecology.
  • Identify the process for emergency responders, local governments, and Tribes to request oil movement information, and the process that Ecology will use to provide non-aggregated information.
  • Identify the types of aggregated information that Ecology will disclose to the public.
  • Establish penalties for noncompliance with the rule.

Why are we doing this rulemaking?

Significant changes in the modes of transportation and properties of crude oil are occurring in Washington State. Washington State has experienced dramatic changes in the amount and types of oil transported by rail and pipeline. There has been an increase in the amount of heavy crude oils, such as diluted bitumen from Canada and Bakken from North Dakota, being transported through the state. Diluted bitumen is concerning because under some conditions it may become submerged below the water surface or sink to the bottom when spilled into water. Bakken crude is more volatile and flammable, and likely to seep into the groundwater quicker than other types of crude oil. Therefore, an accident involving these oil types may create greater environmental, safety, health, and economic impacts than other types of crude oil.

Timely notice of oil movement information is needed for emergency responders and planners to effectively prepare for and respond to oil spills and other incidents associated with the transport of crude oil by rail and pipeline. Providing adequate information will help to protect the lives of people living and working near railroads and pipelines, the economy, and environmental resources of Washington.


Ecology’s process for developing this rule will include input from regulated facilities and pipelines, consultation with tribes, outreach to interested parties and the public, and following formal steps for rule adoption.



Kim Morley

Jase Brooks


Subscribe to our Listserv to receive updates
Ecology Spills ListServ


Visit Spills rulemaking webpage to view other rules.