Ecology to hold public hearings for proposed oil spill readiness and environmental compensation rules
Comment period closes October 4
Source: Department of Ecology
OLYMPIA - The Washington Department of Ecology (Ecology) will host three public hearings across the state next week to gather formal public comment on two proposed rules designed to enhance protection of the state's environment, economy and cultural resources from the impacts of oil spills.
To comply with a 2011 law, Ecology is seeking to update the state oil spill contingency plan rule, which sets requirements for spill readiness planning before spills occur.
Oil tankers, large commercial vessels, oil refineries and many oil-handling facilities must have oil spill contingency plans to operate in Washington. Ecology reviews, approves and continuously tests these plans, which outline how each company will respond to an oil spill to minimize its impacts.
Ecology's proposed rule update will require oil companies operating in Washington waters - including Puget Sound and the Columbia River - to invest in oil spill response equipment and train personnel to enhance response capability at night and during fog, rain and other inclement weather.
Under another draft rule, Ecology is seeking to change the mathematical formulas used to calculate the dollar value for oil spill-related damage from oil spills greater than 1,000
The previous value was from between $1 to $100 per gallon of oil spilled. But under the new law, the value for larger spills was revised to between $3 and $300 per gallon spilled. Compensation for natural resource damage is separate from penalties for oil spills and reimbursing the state for its response and cleanup costs. Monetary damages are deposited into a special state account to pay for habitat restoration and enhancement activities in areas affected by spills.
The public comment period for both proposed rules is open until Oct. 4, 2012.
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