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Pre-booming, alternative measures, and equivalent compliance

While our first priority is preventing spills from occurring, pre-booming oil transfers is the state’s first line of defense if a spill should happen. Any oil transferred over Washington waters is subject to our oil-transfer rules, which include placing boom to contain any potential spill or using other protective measures.

Preventing spills before they happen

We require bulk oil-transfer operations moving product to protect open water from spills by using oil spill containment boom or alternative protective measures.

Oil spill containment boom is a floating barrier used to temporarily corral and contain spilled oil on the water’s surface until it can be removed. Pre-booming refers to the deployment of boom prior to an oil-transfer operation, so that any spills during the transfer are contained instead of spreading to open waters. Alternatives may include having spill response equipment ready and on standby, or developing an innovative plan that complies with our rules and is reviewed and approved by our team.

We divide oil transfers into two categories:

  • Rate A — product is transferred at a rate greater than 500 gallons per minute
  • Rate B — product is transferred at a rate that is 500 gallons or less

Pre-booming requirements

Any Rate A transfers being completed by a regulated facility or vessel must pre-boom if it is safe and effective to do so. If weather and water conditions or other factors don't allow the deployment of boom, then facilities and vessels must comply with alternative measures to contain potential spills. All Rate B transfers being completed by regulated facilities or vessels may pre-boom or comply with the appropriate alternative measures.

Class 1, 2, or 3 facilities and delivering vessels must pre-boom oil transfers greater than 500 gallons per minute when it is safe and effective to do so. When pre-booming is not safe or effective, alternative measures, such as access to extra boom and other spill response equipment, are required to be available. When transferring at 500 gallons per minute or less, these facilities can choose to pre-boom or use alternative measures to safeguard the operation. Class 4 facilities are not required to pre-boom transfers, although they may elect to do so.

Types of regulated facilities

Facility type Examples
Class 1 Large, fixed shore-side facilities such as refineries and refueling terminals
Class 2 Mobile facilities such as tank trucks, rail cars and portable tankers
Class 3 Oil-handling operations such as small tank farms and terminals that transfer oil to non-recreational vessels with fuel capacity above 10,500 gallons
Class 4 Marinas and small fueling stations that transfer oil to non-recreational vessels with fuel capacity below 10,500 gallons

Additional requirements for facilities

We require Class 1, 2, and 3 facilities to pre-boom according to the rate A or rate B requirements.

Class 4 facilities are not required to pre-boom transfers, although they may elect to do so.

When pre-booming, the boom must completely surround the vessel and facility dock area directly involved in the oil transfer operation, or the area which would provide for maximum containment of any oil spilled into the water.

Highly volatile oils, such as gasoline and aviation gasoline, do not require pre-booming, because collecting these oils in a tight space increases the risk of fire or explosion. If multiple products are transferred simultaneously and one of the products transferred is highly volatile, then the alternative measures criteria must be met.

Additional requirements for vessels

The vessel delivering oil is required to supply the boom and deploy it before the transfer begins, and to retrieve it when the transfer is finished. All large oil facilities in Washington are equipped with boom and the ability to deploy and retrieve it. There are several oil spill cleanup companies that provide boom service. Contact your agent for more information.

Alternative measures

Our rules allow alternative measures to be taken when pre-booming is unsafe or ineffective. Rate A and Rate B transfer alternative measures can differ.

For rate A transfers, a delivering facility or vessel must:

  • Complete and submit our Boom Reporting form.
  • Have access to boom four times the length of the largest vessel involved in the transfer or 2,000 feet, whichever is less.
  • Have enough recovery equipment readily available on site for a seven-barrel spill (containers, shovels, absorbent materials, storage capacity, etc.).
  • Have the ability to safely track the spill in low-visibility conditions. The tracking system must able to be on-scene within 30 minutes of being made aware of a spill.
  • Within one hour of notification of a spill, be able to completely surround the vessel(s) and dock area with containment boom.
  • Within two hours of notification of a spill, have additional boom four times the length of the largest vessel involved in the transfer or 2,000 feet, whichever is less, available for containment, protection, and recovery.
  • Within two hours of notification of a spill, have an operable skimming system available on site with 50 barrels recovery and 100 barrels of storage capacity.

For Rate B transfers, a delivering facility or vessel must:

  • Have access to boom long enough to surround the vessel(s) and dock area involved in the transfer, providing for maximum containment.
  • Have recovery equipment available on site for a two-barrel spill (containers, shovels, absorbent materials, storage capacity, etc.).
  • Within one hour of notification of a spill, be able to deploy 500 feet of boom for containment, protection, and recovery.
  • Within two hours of notification of a spill, have an additional 500 feet of boom available on scene for containment, protection, and recovery.

Equivalent compliance plans

We allow delivering facilities or vessels to propose innovative or special measures that can be taken in place of appropriate alternative measures. An equivalent compliance plan should be site-specific and must provide protection that is equivalent or better than the alternative measures. The plan must be submitted 120 days prior to planned use of the proposed equivalent measures for review and approval. All equivalent compliance plans will be subject to a 30-day public review and comment period.

These plans can't be used as a substitute for any rate A or rate B pre-booming requirements.

Additional information on equivalent compliance plans can be found in the equivalence compliance plan rules Chapter 173-180-070 WAC or Chapter 173-184-105 WAC.