2018 Strengthening Oil Transportation Safety Act

The Strengthening Oil Transportation Safety Act, E2SSB 6269, takes steps to enhance the safety of marine transportation and protect the state’s waters from oil spills. It places an emphasis on improving readiness to respond to sinking and submerging oils. The bill specifically directs our Spills Program to address multiple policy initiatives. 

A large shipping vessel, two young children watching an oil train pass by near water, and a pipeline crossing over a river.

More than 20 billion gallons of oil is transported through Washington each year by vessel, pipeline, and rail. Some of this is heavy oil that may sink in water, depending on conditions. The new law places an emphasis on improving readiness to respond to heavy oils.

Strait of Juan de Fuca and Puget Sound Vessel Traffic Safety Report

Overview

In consultation with the Board of Pilotage Commissioners and the Puget Sound Partnership, we've completed a report and recommendations on vessel traffic and vessel traffic safety in the Strait of Juan de Fuca and Puget Sound.

Details Timeline

Salish Sea Shared Waters Forum

Overview

The first annual Salish Sea Shared Waters Forum was held in Bellingham in October 2018. The goal of these meetings is to work with our Canadian partners to address common issues in the Salish Sea related to oil spill prevention, preparedness, and response.

Details Timeline

Contingency plan updates

Overview

To address oils that may submerge or sink in water, we will require:

  • Updates to oil spill contingency plans.
  • Oil spill drills that verify the updates to contingency plans in situations where oil may submerge or sink.
  • Approval of contractors providing spill management and wildlife rehabilitation service providers under approved contingency plans.

Rulemaking information

Details Timeline

Geographic response plan (GRP) updates

Overview

We've begun to update geographic response plans (GRPs) to identify water column and subsurface resources that could be harmed by oils that submerge or sink. A progress report will be provided to the Legislature. Community input will be part of the update process.

Details Timeline

Oil transfer inspection prioritization

Overview

Under the Act, our oil transfer inspectors continue their existing work and are also prioritizing and conducting specialized reviews and inspections of oil transfer operations involving oils that may submerge or sink. This includes oil transfers for vessels at-anchor.

Details Timeline

Oil spill program activities and funding report

Overview

We've started work on a report to the Legislature regarding spill program activities and funding.

Details Timeline

Other new legislation

In addition, the Legislature through the 2018 State Supplemental Operating Budget provided the resources to conduct rulemaking regarding contingency plans for short-line railroads that transport non-fuel oils, per ESHB 1136. We are currently developing a timeline for this work.