Friday, April 8, 2016

New requirements for railroads and others moving oil through Washington?

Nearly four years ago the first crude-oil train rolled through Washington to the Tesoro Refinery in Anacortes. Since then (and as the number of trains has escalated to 15-19/week), Ecology and state leaders have been working to develop policies and attain resources that provide the highest level of public and environmental protection as possible.

Gov. Inslee’s 2015 Oil Transportation Safety Act asked Ecology to write new rules about how oil is transported. Two of those rules are now proposed and open for public comment.

Rule #1 - Oil Movement by Rail and Pipeline Notification

The proposed oil notification rule requires facilities (refineries and terminals) that receive crude oil by rail to provide advance notification to the state weekly. Pipelines that transport crude oil will submit reports every six months. Ecology will share the advance information with affected communities such as emergency responders, local governments and tribes. Information about what has traveled through the state will be available to the public quarterly, through a state website. (Due to security and proprietary concerns, the direction in the Act is to provide aggregate information to the public).

Rule #2 – Oil Spill Contingency Plans for Railroads

Ecology requires vessels that transport oil in our waters to have contingency plans. This rule asks railroads traveling with crude or refined bulk oil to do the same. Contingency plans show the railroads are ready to immediately respond to an oil spill if one occurs. And again - just like we do on the vessel side – Ecology will test companies’ plans through exercise and drills.

Multiple Ways to Comment

Now that proposed rules are written – we need to make sure we didn’t miss anything. You can help by reading them and giving us your feedback. It’s easy:

Comments for both rulemakings need to be submitted by June 10.

Visit the Spills rule webpage for more information about the rulemakings, documents available for review, and public hearings.

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