Contingency planning for oil industry

We require oil-handling operations — such as facilities, pipelines, large commercial vessels, and railroads — to have oil spill contingency plans that detail how they would respond to oil spills. We review the plans and test them in complex deployment and tabletop drills as part of our public service.

Audience watching a presentation.


We are updating contingency plan rules for state-approved oil spill contingency plan holders. These updates will:​

  • Help the state be better prepared for spills of oil that may sink or submerge in water.
  • Require state approval for Spill Management Teams.
  • Update oil spill drill requirements.
  • Establish three types for railroads and streamline requirements.

Get more information on these rule updates and how to participate in the process: 

Oil spill contingency planning

Washington state requires larger oil-handling facilities, pipelines, commercial vessels, and railroads to have state-approved oil spill contingency plans. These plans describe the plan holder's ability to respond to oil spills. Plans include information on spill response procedures, equipment, safety, communications, and training.

Each company is required to develop, maintain, and test their contingency plan. We review and approve plans on a five-year cycle. The oil spill contingency plan rule requires a 30-day public review and comment period for plan updates.

Guidance and assistance for specific industries


On August 31, 2016, we adopted a new rule for railroads. The adoption of this rule requires railroads to develop and maintain contingency plans. The rule applies to all railroads (not owned by the state) operating in Washington that transport bulk oil as cargo. The rule went into effect on October 1, 2016.

Assistance documentation

Facilities & pipelines Vessels