New state rule will help first responders prepare for crude oil shipments

Friday, September 9, 2016

BNSF crude oil train
Photo courtesy Dept of Ecology

Washingtonians were made a little safer when the state adopted a rule requiring facilities that receive crude oil by rail to notify the Washington Department of Ecology in advance. The rule also requires pipelines transporting crude oil in the state to submit information about volumes and place of origin twice a year.

The rule allows Ecology to share crude oil movement information with emergency response agencies through an advance notification system. In addition, Ecology will publish aggregated public disclosure reports quarterly, summarizing details about oil movement in Washington state.

The newly adopted rule goes into effect Oct. 1, 2016, and the first quarterly report will be published in January 2017.
 “In the wake of recent oil train disasters, Washington is moving quickly to improve public safety and protect our natural resources,” said Governor Inslee. “This rule will assure that our emergency responders get advanced notice before oil train shipments arrive in their communities.”
Map courtesy Dept of Ecology 

The rule applies to four facilities in Washington that currently receive crude oil shipments by rail, and to two pipelines that transport crude oil in the state. New facilities and pipelines also will be subject to the rule.

Previously, no state reporting standards existed. A 2014 emergency order by the U.S. Department of Transportation required railroad carriers transporting Bakken crude oil in single trains, and in volumes greater than one million gallons, to provide information to state emergency response commissions regarding the estimated volumes and frequencies of such trains.

Map courtesy Dept of Ecology


Ecology held four public meetings on the new rule during its 65-day public comment period. More than 1,000 comments were received, reviewed and factored into the rule development.


More information about this and other rules Ecology is drafting to help protect the environment is available online.



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