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Spill Prevention, Preparedness, and Response Program

We have a zero spills goal in Washington. We place a strong emphasis on oil spill prevention because it’s cheaper than cleanup, and far better for the environment. When spills of oil or hazardous materials do happen, we’re prepared to mount a rapid, aggressive, and well-coordinated response to reduce harmful impacts.

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. We're constantly adapting and improving our spill prevention and preparedness measures to protect our state's environment, economy, the health of our communities, and the health of our rich cultural and historical resources.

Learn about the history and key events that helped contribute to the effectiveness of today's Spill Prevention, Preparedness, and Response Program. Get this publication

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

How can I learn more about the Spills Program?