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Spill Prevention, Preparedness, and Response Program

We focus on preventing oil spills to Washington’s waters and land, and planning for and delivering a rapid, aggressive, and well-coordinated response to oil and hazardous substance spills wherever they occur. Our work helps protect the state's health by reducing the long-term release of toxic chemicals into the environment.

Why does Washington need a Spills Program?

More than 20 billion gallons of oil is transported through Washington each year by vessel, pipeline, and rail. Washington is a primary West Coast port for international shipping trade and a major oil refining state. Based on 2006 numbers, a large spill could cost the state $10.8 billion and 165,000 jobs.

Preventing spills costs far less than cleaning them up. When spills do happen, damage can be reduced by high standards of prevention, preparedness, and response. The mission of our Spills Program is to protect Washington’s environment, public health, safety, and economy through comprehensive spill prevention, preparedness, and response.

More information on our Spills Program

What does the Spills Program do?


Our "zero spills" strategy helps prevent oil and hazardous substances from entering state waters. Our spill prevention requirements apply to industries that handle or transport oil in Washington, such as large vessels, refineries, oil storage and marine fueling terminals, mobile oil suppliers, and certain marinas and boatyards. Our prevention work includes assessing the potential risks that oil transportation poses to people and the state's major waterways, Puget Sound, and the Columbia River.

Evaluations of spill prevention plans and operations manuals, oil-handler training and certifications, inspections, and technical assistance help industries meet our prevention requirements while protecting Washington's environment. We also conduct spill investigations to seek out causes of spills and provide recommendations for prevention of future incidents.

Preparedness Response Restoration