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.

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.

Interim GRP Updates for Spring 2022

Grays Harbor GRP: new information provided by NRCES from a site visit resulted in updates to CHRC-0.1 (site access, site safety, and land owner contact information) and NSKC-0.2 (site access and safety information).

Central Puget Sound GRP: during a recent spill in Elliott Bay, notification strategy CPS-31-N was utilized. New contact information for this strategy has been added.

North Puget Sound GRP: We updated NPS-75, NPS-74, and NPS-73 to remove references to the old refinery name; and updated contact and access information for NPS-07.

Moses Lake/Crab Creek GRP: after lessons learned from a GRP deployment exercise, we moved the location of MOLK-39.3 slightly east so that it is further away from a dam gate and allows for better access, monitoring, and boom maintenance.

Strait of Juan de Fuca GRP: A lot of good work and collaboration with tribes and other stakeholders has been done on this GRP. Equipment, boom, and/or location information has been updated for the following strategies while the rest of the plan is undergoing a comprehensive update: STR-01, STR-02, STR-03, STR-04, STR-05, STR-06, STR-07, and STR-11.

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 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.