Oil spill prevention plans for facilities

Oil spill prevention plans evaluate a facility's risk of spilling oil, and propose specific measures for reducing or eliminating these risks. These plans are also used to establish each facility's compliance with our design standards for transmission pipeline transfers, secondary containment measures, above-ground storage tanks, and transfer pipelines. These are living documents that are maintained and updated based on new developments in technology and lessons learned from actual spill events. The plans serve as a foundation for preventing oil spills at large oil-handling facilities.

Washington’s refineries and marine oil-handling terminals, known as Class 1 facilities, must prepare an oil spill prevention plan to reduce the risk of spills. New Class 1 facilities, and facilities with a change in owner or operator, must submit a prevention plan at least 120 days before the beginning of operations.

Plan requirements

The prevention plan is used to evaluate a facility’s spill risks and must identify the measures that will be used to provide the best achievable protection from such risks. The plan provides information for each facility’s above-ground storage tanks, secondary containment measures, transfer pipelines and associated oil handling equipment, and provisions for inspection, maintenance, and integrity testing. Other topics in the plan must include:

  • Assurance that major oil handling equipment meets or exceeds our facility design standards in four specific areas:
    • Transmission pipelines transfers.
    • Secondary containment.
    • Above-ground storage tanks.
    • Transfer pipelines.
  • Spill prevention training, and drug and alcohol awareness programs for operators.
  • Site security.
  • A description of spill prevention technology in use, including secondary containment capacity, permeability, and design.
  • A list of spills greater than 25 barrels and measures implemented by the facility to prevent spills from reoccurring.
  • A detailed and comprehensive risk analysis of the facility’s risk of spills to waters of the state. A formal process must be used to evaluate the facility. The risk analysis must be prepared by a licensed professional engineer or another individual which ecology has deemed to have an acceptable level of expertise. The risk assessment must include the results of storage tank inspections under seismic design requirements.

A complete list of the specific content requirements for our prevention plans can be accessed in the Plan Standards chapter of the Facility Oil Handling Standards rule.

Plan review and approval

We review and approve prevention plans for all Class 1 facilities in Washington. The plans go through a 30-day public comment period as part of the review process. Our approvals are good for a five-year period, although any significant change at a facility, or an oil spill greater than 25 barrels, requires facilities to submit an updated plan for review and approval within 30 days. Similarly, a change in ownership requires the new owner to submit a new prevention plan for approval per WAC 173-180-080(3). Facilities with an expiring approval must submit an updated plan for re-approval, or a letter asking us to review and re-approve the existing plan, at least 120 days before expiration.

Send your report by email to start our review process. Contact our Facility Engineer Lead if you need help identifying the engineer or inspector to send your report to.

Washington’s prevention plan is similar to EPA’s Spill Prevention, Control, and Countermeasures plan. The two plans are often written and maintained as one document to streamline facility operations. However, Washington’s prevention plan is a separate state program for Class 1 facilities in Washington.

We do not require prevention plans for Class 2, 3, or 4 facilities, but owners and operators should be aware that federal requirements may still apply at these facilities.