In 2019, the Legislature amended RCW 88.16 and RCW 88.46 to reduce threats of oil spills to Southern Resident Killer Whales. The amendments directed Ecology to develop an oil spill risk model and deliver two reports to the Legislature by September 2023: an analysis of an emergency response towing vessel (ERTV) for Haro Strait, Boundary Pass, and Rosario Strait; and an analysis of tug escorts for specified tank vessels.
The ERTV analysis focused on whether an ERTV can prevent vessels from drifting aground after unexpectedly losing propulsion. We used loss of propulsion frequency and a physics-based drift model to plot vessel drift paths. Since an ERTV is not the only way drifting ships can avoid grounding we also included the potential for vessels to self-repair or anchor, and the potential for nearby tugs to respond to disabled vessels.
We evaluated seven potential ERTV locations within the study area: Anacortes, Deltaport, Port Angeles, Port Townsend, Roche Harbor, Sidney, and Victoria.
The final report is available online here (link).
Outreach and Consultation
During model and analysis development, we prioritized robust outreach with tribes, stakeholders, and the public. We held more than 25 events attended by more than 200 individual attendees affiliated with over 150 different organizations, and answered over 300 questions with real time and written responses.
Information about the events we held as part of model and analysis development are available online (link).