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Operations manual requirements

Operations manuals provide a one-stop reference for the appropriate procedures for transferring oil in a safe, consistent, and environmentally friendly way. We require most fixed and mobile facilities that transfer large amounts of oil to develop these manuals to help guide personnel during normal operations. The manuals also help them troubleshoot when issues occur.

As part of our effort to prevent spills during the transfer, storage, and handling of oil, we require certain facilities to develop and maintain operations manuals. Operations manuals describe the equipment and procedures that facility personnel will use during oil transfer operations, with special focus on oil spill prevention practices and safety measures.

The manuals also contain information about:

  • The types of oils at the facility.
  • Pre-booming requirements.
  • Threshold values for sea and weather conditions.
  • Equipment maintenance schedules and procedures.
  • Emergency operations procedures.

Types of facilities affected

Facility type Examples Requirements
Class 1 Large, fixed shore-side facilities such as refineries and refueling terminals Operations manuals required. New facilities must submit manuals at least 120 days prior to transfer operation.
Class 2 Mobile facilities such as tank trucks, rail cars, and portable tankers Operations manuals required. New facilities must submit manuals at least 90 days prior to transfer operation.
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 No state operations manual is needed but may be subject to federal requirements.
Class 4 Marinas and small fueling stations that transfer oil to non-recreational vessels with fuel capacity below 10,500 gallons No state operations manual is needed but may be subject to federal requirements.







We review and approve operations manuals for all Class 1 and 2 facilities in the state. Our approvals are good for a five-year period, although any significant change to an operation requires re-submittal of an updated manual for review within 30 days. 

Class 1 facilities are encouraged to submit Safe and Effective Threshold Determination Reports in conjunction with their operations manual to expedite the review and approval process.

Facilities with an expiring approval must submit one of the following at least 180 days before expiration:

  • Updated manual for re-approval
  • Letter asking us to re-approve the existing manual

Washington’s requirements for the operations manual are similar to the U.S. Coast Guard’s operations manual requirements. One document is often written to satisfy both state and federal requirements, but Washington’s requirement is independent of the federal requirements.