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Oil Spill Cleanup Now Detailed in 22 Ecology Plans

When a large oil spill occurs in Washington, the department of ecology follows detailed response plans when possible. The department just completed nine new plans for specific watersheds, by request of the 2014 legislature.

Lawmakers asked for the plans over concerns about the influx of oil trains traveling the state. Ecology preparedness planner Wendy Buffett says they need to send response as soon as they hear about an oil spill, and the plans help.

Buffett: “We say, you need to call this fish hatchery, you need to call these people and shut off their drinking water intakes, and then here’s where you can get to the river, the ocean, or the shoreline to deploy these strategies… Which is important because that’s when most of the damage occurs, in that first 24 hours, and that’s when you can get most of the oil out of the water.”

The documents are called GRPs - geographic response plans - and the state has about 20 in places like the Columbia River, Lake Chelan and Lake Washington, and the Spokane River. She says cleanup was ad-hoc in the Yakima River when oil spilled this year because the area has no GRP.

The state budget approved this week renews funding for ecology so the department can develop more GRPs this year.

Copyright 2015 Spokane Public Radio

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