What are Geographic Response Plans?

Oil spills pose a risk to sensitive environmental, cultural, and economic resources. One important tool in our planning toolbox is the Geographic Response Plan (GRP). GRPs contain pre-identified strategies for specific areas of the state at risk from oil spills. These are pre-approved plans that guide early response actions during oil spills. A list of all Washington State GRPs, including those open for comprehensive updates can be found online at OilSpills101.wa.gov.

GRP Updates:  Comprehensive vs. Interim

GRPs are periodically updated to ensure the information is relavant and up-to-date. These comprehensive updates require a lot of work and often take a year or two to complete. Work is coordinated with other state and federal agencies, tribes, industry partners, oil spill response professionals, and communities.

Because a lot can change in a GRP planning area between comprehensive updates, Ecology is committed to conducting interim GRP updates when necessary. Examples of interim updates include improvements to response strategies resulting from lessons learned during drills or real spills, updated contact information, changes to driving directions after roadwork, and other response-enhancing edits. Ecology publishes interim updates to GRPs on a quarterly basis.

This quarter, we finished comprehensive updates of two GRPs: Snohomish Basin (formerly WRIA-7)  and Clark, Cowlitz, SW Lewis.  GRPs currently open for comprehensive updates are listed below, along with the contact information if you have questions or want to participate.

Everyone has a Role in Improving the State’s GRPs

The oil industry regularly exercises oil spill contingency plans to ensure their readiness to respond to an oil spill. These exercises often involve the deployment of GRP strategies. Each deployment is an oportunity to validate a response strategy’s effectiveness, and to make improvements if it is necessary.

GRPs also rely on feedback from professional oil spill responders, natural resource agencies, tribes, and the public. This valuable feedback is often reflected in a comprehensive update, or through the interim update process.

If you have information or ideas that can make GRP’s even more effective, Ecology wants to know! Please email GRP feedback to GRPs@ecy.wa.gov.  If you are visiting a response strategy site, you can use our new GRP Strategy Assessment Form to help document your assessment. We thank you in advance for helping the Northwest Regional Contingency Plan and the Area Plans maintain a high level of readiness to respond to oil spills.