Rules in the works for oil contingency planning throughout Washington State

OLYMPIA – The Washington Department of Ecology is accepting comments on proposed updates of rules requiring approved oil spill contingency plans for vessels traveling in the state.

The proposed updates provide more clarity for the Chapter 173-182 WAC Oil Spill Contingency Rule. The WAC ensures Washington waters aren’t polluted by mandating oil spill contingency plans for all vessels traveling in the state.

On April 2, Washington State Department of Ecology (Ecology) adopted an emergency rule and proposed a permanent rule. Ecology is updating the definition of “plan holder” to include all persons listed in RCW 88.46.060 and updating the definition of “umbrella plan” to ensure the term is used only when referring to non-profit corporations.

Ecology is also proposing to amend the oil spill contingency rule so that owners/operators, if operating under a plan that covers multiple parties, are not required to comply with provisions of the rule that apply specifically to plan holders.

“The amendments are necessary to protect public health and the environment, and they ensure all vessel owners follow the laws and have access to the right resources in the event of an oil spill,” said Dale Jensen, Spills Program manager. “In their current form, the language and definitions don’t provide clear regulatory direction to contingency plan holders.”

The emergency rule that went into effect April 2 expires after 120 days. The rule proposal will be published in the Washington State Register on April 16, 2014. A public hearing will be held in Lacey and via webinar on May 6. Comments will be accepted through May 13. Ecology anticipates adopting the rule no earlier than July 15.

For more information about the new rule, including the public hearing schedule, how to submit comments or join the webinar visit: www.ecy.wa.gov/laws-rules/wac173182/1310.html.

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