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 relevant 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.

GRPs currently open for comprehensive updates are listed below, along with the contact information if you have questions or want to participate.

Interim GRP updates during Fall, 2023

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 oil spill drills or actual spills, updated contact information, changes to driving directions, and other response-enhancing edits. Ecology publishes interim updates to GRPs on a quarterly basis. Interim updates completed this quarter include the following:

GRP User Survey

The GRP Sub-Committee of the Northwest Area Committee has created a survey to better understand what elements of the Response Strategies and Priorities (2-pagers) people use and value the most. The sub-committee is looking for feedback from people who deploy, update, or otherwise use 2-pagers to make them as useful as possible during a response.

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 opportunity 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  reflected in either a comprehensive update or 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 Area Contingency Plan maintain a high level of readiness to respond to oil spills.