Lacey, Wa- The Washington Department of Ecology has approved the state’s first-ever oil spill response plan for BNSF Railway Company, the largest freight railroad company in Washington.
The new plan ensures that BNSF will meet more protective requirements set by The Washington State Department of Ecology. BNSF owns 1,332 miles of track and delivers oil to terminals in Anacortes and Pasco, truck racks in Seattle and Spokane, and refineries in Cherry Point and Ferndale.
Washington and California are the only two states on the West Coast that require contingency plans that guarantee a quick and effective response, in the event of a spill.
Last year, railroads accounted for approximately 25 percent of all crude oil moving through Washington. The estimated 2 billion gallons of crude oil was transported through local communities, along major highways, the Puget Sound, and the Columbia River.
The new plan requires the development and practice of oil spill drills, Clarifies how notifications are made to ensure a joint response to a spill, Requires ongoing annual training for local and tribal first responders and response contractors on fast-water response techniques, Requires spill response equipment, a team, and resources be pre-positioned statewide, and Requires readiness to respond to oiled wildlife and community air monitoring.
The Oil Transportation Safety Act recognized the risks in Washington due to the increase of oil trains in recent years. The Washington Department of Ecology is currently working on contingency plans for eight railroad companies.