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Spills Program

Chapter 173-186 WAC
Oil Spill Contingency Plan - Railroad Rulemaking


Ecology is proposing a new rule, Chapter 173-186 WAC, Oil Spill Contingency Plan – Railroad.

This rulemaking will:

  • Describe the purpose and use of the contingency plans for rail.
  • Describe the applicability and authorities of the rule, and timing for compliance.
  • Include definitions for terms used in the rule.
  • Define authority and process for contingency plan submittal and review.
  • Establish a process for plan updates and notification of significant changes.
  • Develop a signature authority for binding plan holders to the use of their plans.
  • Establish contingency plan content requirements.
  • Describe the required elements of the contingency plan field document.
  • Establish notification requirements and call out procedures.
  • Define training and personnel resources to fill roles in oil spill management teams.
  • Identify resources at risk from rail spills.
  • Establish equipment planning standards for responding to railroad oil spills.
  • Establish Best Achievable Protection planning requirements for railroads.
  • Establish a drill program and drill evaluation criteria for railroad plan holders.
  • Establish recordkeeping, noncompliance, and compliance information.
  • Address other issues to ensure consistency and clarity is maintained throughout the rule.

Why are we doing this rulemaking?

Increased crude by rail transport has changed the risk picture for oil spills in Washington State. During the 2015 legislative session, RCW 88.46.010 and RCW 90.56.010 were amended to include railroads (not owned by the state) that transport bulk oil as cargo in the definition of “facility”, and RCW 90.56.210 was amended to expand Ecology’s authority to require state contingency plans for rail. Ecology was directed to develop rules establishing contingency planning requirements for railroads transporting oil in bulk. Contingency plans for railroads will ensure that first responders are aware of the locations of oil transport, oil response equipment, and are trained to respond in a rapid, aggressive, and well-coordinated manner.


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



Linda Pilkey-Jarvis


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