Washington Ecology Department Honing Response To Rail Crude Oil Spills

Crude oil typically contains unhealthy levels of benzene, a known carcinogen, and other toxic chemicals. It is also heavier, thicker and can persist much longer in the environment than other petroleum products.

During the training drill, Ecology responders will get practical experience using air monitoring instruments, working in protective gear to take samples and quickly assessing where and how to deploy equipment to help keep a crude oil spill from spreading in a river.

While no trains in Washington have spilled crude oil since regular rail deliveries started about nine months ago, a single rail car can carry 34,500 gallons of crude oil. The training and drill will help prepare state responders should a spill occur.

Every year Ecology handles 3,800 reports of oil and hazardous material spills and mounts 1,200 field responses to incidents that threaten public health, safety and the environment.

Spill response training exercises form part of Ecology’s ongoing commitment to ensure a rapid, aggressive and well-coordinated response to incidents that pose an immediate threat to public health, safety and the environment.