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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.

The Spills Program helps minimize the long-term release of toxic chemicals into the environment and helps protect the health of the state.

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. Our state is a primary West Coast port to international shipping trade. We are a major refining state. Oil is constantly moving in, around, and out of Washington. Oil spill prevention and preparedness are important because the consequences of an oil spill are extremely high. Damage from an oil spill cannot be avoided but can be reduced by high standards of prevention and preparedness. It is far less expensive and damaging to prevent an oil spill than it is to clean it up.  All oil spills are toxic. Preparing for a rapid, aggressive, well-coordinated response to a high consequence incident reduces damages to Washington’s environment, economy, public health, and historical and cultural resources. Based on 2006 numbers, a large spill could cost the state $10.8 billion and 165,000 jobs.

The mission of the Spill Prevention, Preparedness, and Response Program (Spills Program) is to protect Washington’s environment, public health, safety, and economy through a comprehensive spill prevention, preparedness, and response program.

You can find more information about the regulatory and technical assistance we provide through our Spills Program by reviewing our program documentation.

The Spills Program is adaptive and takes pride in responding to shifting political climates, economic trends, legislative direction, and public demands.

Our core services


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