Contributed by Department of Ecology

In collecting data to determine which oils may submerge or sink because their densities are heavier than water or may become denser the longer they remain in the water, we reviewed the types of oil listed in Washington-approved oil spill plans, the conditions encountered in the many types of Washington waterways, as well as lessons learned from historical spills. We used information from “Advance notice of Transfer” data, oil spill contingency plans (oil types and properties), the Northwest Regional/Area Contingency plans, contractor certification guidance and technical reference documents to identify these oil types:

  • Crude oils.
  • Heavy fuel oils.
  • Vacuum gas oil.
  • Used and waste oils.
  • Asphalt and asphalt products.

In an earlier blog, we wrote that we also need to know the characteristics of the water bodies and examine the characteristics could lead oil submerging or sinking, such as the turbulence or sedimentation. This type of information will be added to our planning tools.

What are the updates to the content of the Geographic Response Plans (GRPs)?

GRPs and the tactical booming strategies contained in the plans are an important part of the readiness for oil spills in the Pacific Northwest region. In order to update the GRPs to address risks from non-floating oils we are adding new information “Non-floating Oils Response Options and Considerations” (Example, Grays Harbor GRP NFO Response Options)  as well as updates to Section 6 – Resources at Risk (Example, Gray Harbor GRP Resources At Risk) from spills.   We will be using this site to preview updates to GRPs as we develop them.

We want your feedback!

Our GRP update relies on information and planning guidance from key reference documents.  Please let us know if there are other tools you think we should mention. These tools may support our preparedness planning or real time considerations during a response.  Please email