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Public records disclosure and requests

Washington law, Chapter 42.56 RCW, requires us to promptly make identifiable records available to the public for inspection, and provide copying upon request.

What is a public record?

A public record is any writing which contains information that relates to the conduct of government. “Writing” means all documents, including:

  • paper records
  • electronic records
  • emails
  • photographs
  • recordings, etc.

An identifiable record is defined as a record that can be reasonably located by agency staff. Only records exempt by law may be withheld from production.

Records exempt from public disclosure

Certain records are exempt from production under the Public Records Act, RCW 42.56; there are other statutes that contain additional exemptions from production. If records are being withheld or portions blacked out (redacted) under an exemption, you will receive a log detailing which records have been withheld/redacted, the statute that is being relied on for the exemption and a brief explanation of how the exemption applies. If you have questions regarding exemption, please contact the Public Records Officer at (360) 407-6040.

Instant records search

First try looking in our databases. Many of our records are instantly accessible at no cost with instant results. Our publications are also searchable.

Request Records

Still not finding what you need? You can request public records by filing a records request with our Public Records Officer. Download our Records Request Form (PDF) and return to:

Public Records Officer

Public Records Officer
WA Dept. of Ecology
PO Box 47600
Olympia WA 98504-7600

On November 15, 2017, we adopted amendments to Chapter 173-03 WAC Public Records. These amendments became effective on December 16, 2017. WAC 173-03-060 now requires that all public record requests must be directed to the agency public records officer at the email address or mailing address above. We continued to accept requests that were not sent to the addresses listed above until March 19, 2018. Since then, improperly submitted requests are not accepted or processed.

What happens after you submit your request?

Within five business days of receipt of your request, Ecology will do one of the following:

  1. Request clarification of the request;
  2. Provide the record;
  3. Provide an internet address and link to the specific record requested;
  4. Deny the request; or
  5. Acknowledge that your request was received and provide a reasonable estimate of the time required to respond to the request.
  6. When the records have been gathered, you will be contacted with:
    • Dates(s) available to review the records at an Ecology office and/or;
    • An estimated cost of copying or scanning the records (copy fees).
    • If the request is large, we may contact you to make arrangements for providing the records in installments.

What does it cost to obtain copies of public records?

There is no charge to inspect public records. If you want copies of records, fees will be assessed in accordance with RCW 42.56.120 and our copy fee schedule.

If you require records to be mailed to you, postage charges will be added to the total cost.

You will not be charged for copy fees less than $25.00. Some requests may require a 10% deposit, per RCW 42.56.120.