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State: Canada needs more detailed pipeline spill plan

September 27, 2018
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An oil tanker sits in the waters north of the March Point oil refineries.

As the new owner of the Trans Mountain Pipeline, Canada must provide more details about its plan to respond in the event of an oil spill between the Canadian border and Anacortes.

That’s the recent determination of the state Department of Ecology, which directed the Canadian government to correct deficiencies in the oil spill response plan currently under review for the Puget Sound spur of the Trans Mountain Pipeline, according to a news release.

The 69-mile Puget Sound spur moved 2.6 billion gallons of crude oil from Canada to refineries in Whatcom and Skagit counties in 2017, according to Ecology.

The Canadian government acquired the pipeline in Washington from Kinder Morgan this summer as part of the larger Trans Mountain Pipeline system that originates in Alberta.

As the owner of the pipeline, the Canadian government is required by state law to have an oil spill response plan approved by Ecology.

Ecology recently reviewed a submitted plan and determined it provided insufficient details for how Canada would respond to a spill, including emergency notifications, initial steps, efforts to protect endangered species and natural resources, and how to address heavy oils that may sink.

“We expect Canada to adhere to the high standards Washington has worked so hard to achieve that protect our environment, economy and the health of our communities,” Ecology Spill Prevention, Preparedness and Response Program Manager Dale Jensen said in the release.

The state agency has given Canada 60 days to provide additional details.

The spill response plan is to address existing operations of the pipeline, which has supplied Canadian crude oil to state refineries since the 1950s.

During a public comment period, Ecology received input from 14,000 individuals concerned about deficiencies in the plan as well as potential expansions of the Trans Mountain Pipeline.

Potential expansions are outside the scope of the oil spill response plan, according to Ecology.

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