Washington state to update railroad oil-spill response rules

Railroad tracks near Bellingham, Washington. Photo – Washington State Department of Ecology

(Source: Progressive Railroading 06/13/2019)

The Washington State Department of Ecology is seeking public comments on proposed changes to regulations government railroads oil-spill response efforts in the state.

In 2015, the state began requiring railroads to have oil-spill contingency plans to ensure they are adequately prepared in case of a spill. Based on direction from the Washington Legislature, the department is streamlining requirements and “strengthen response to potential railroad spills,” department officials said in a press release.

The department proposes to:
• enhance readiness requirements for oils that may weather and sink when spilled;
• improve the ability to rescue and rehabilitate wildlife that may be affected or oiled during a response;
• ensure that railroad response teams are trained and well qualified to manage a response in Washington;
• update oil spill drill requirements; and
• streamline plans for small rai lines that don’t move crude oil, with requirements that are in line with the size and scope of their operations.

Ecology department officials are seeking public comments on the proposed changes through July 22.