Ecology publishes updated Grays Harbor oil-spill response plan

OLYMPIA — The Washington Department of Ecology (Ecology) and U.S. Coast Guard published an updated Grays Harbor Geographic Response Plan this week to improve site-specific, oil-spill response strategies in the area.

The plan is one of 19 geographic response plans (GRPs) in the state designed to lessen the impact of spilled oil on sensitive natural, cultural, and economic resources during t an incident. It covers shoreline and nearshore areas from Cosmopolis to the Pacific Coast (Grayland to Copalis Beach).
The Grays Harbor GRP is part of a larger plan called the Northwest Area Contingency Plan (NWACP) which covers Washington, Oregon, and Idaho. The NWACP functions as Washington State’s master plan for oil spill and hazardous substance release response. The NWACP is maintained by the Northwest Area Committee, which includes the U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, Idaho State Emergency Response Commission, and Ecology.

From the end of August through mid-October, Ecology solicited public comments on the updated draft GRP for Grays Harbor. Over 40 comments were received during this period from ten groups or individuals. “We appreciate the feedback because it allows us to develop a plan with input from citizens, resource managers, spill response contractors, industry representatives, tribal governments, and local officials,” said Dale Jensen, Spills Program Manager. “Updating the GRP is one of several readiness improvements happening in Grays Harbor over the next months.  The natural environment of the harbor is truly a jewel to this state, and the harbor is getting a well deserved boost in oil spill preparedness.”

The updated plan contains site-specific spill response measures like oil-containment booming and notification strategies. It also establishes priorities based on potential spill locations and the proximity of sensitive resources to them. Jensen said all of the strategies within the plan support Ecology’s goal of a rapid, aggressive, and well coordinated response to oil spills.  Other improvements will include tugs, more equipment staged locally and an opportunity for vessel owners to volunteer for training to support oil spill responses.

The former Grays Harbor GRP was published in March, 2003 and work to update the plan began in August, 2009. The updated plan is significantly more detailed, and nearly six times larger than the former plan. All parts of the existing plan were comprehensively reviewed and updated, with two dozen response strategies added.

The updated plan and Ecology’s response to public comments are available online:
. 2013 Grays Harbor GRP Web page: http://www.ecy.wa.gov/programs/spills/preparedness/GRP/GraysHarbor/GraysHarbor.html
. Ecology’s Response to Comments on draft updated Grays Harbor GRP: http://www.ecy.wa.gov/programs/spills/preparedness/GRP/GraysHarbor/GraysHarbor-RTC.pdf
. The Grays Harbor GRP is part of the larger Northwest Area Contingency Plan.

For more information:
Geographic Response Plans:  http://www.ecy.wa.gov/programs/spills/preparedness/GRP/Introduction/introduction.htm
Ecology Spills Program:
http://www.ecy.wa.gov/programs/spills/spills.html

Ecology’s social media:
www.ecy.wa.gov/about/newmedia.html

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