Ecology approves updated spill plan for Trans Mountain Pipeline

January 7, 2019
The 69-mile Puget Sound Spur connects Canada's Trans Mountain Pipeline with four of five oil refineries in Washington, including the Marathon and Shell refineries near Anacortes.

The state Department of Ecology has approved an oil spill response plan from the Canadian government for the 69-mile spur of the Trans Mountain Pipeline that runs through Whatcom and Skagit counties.

Canada purchased the Trans Mountain Pipeline from Kinder Morgan in 2018 and as the new owner was required by Washington state law to write a new oil spill response plan.

In September, Ecology found Canada’s original proposed spill response plan inadequate. Ecology spokeswoman Sandy Howard said Canada submitted a revised plan, which Ecology has approved.

According to an Ecology news release, the new plan meets the state’s requirements, including following procedures set in the regional Northwest Area Contingency Plan — one of several oil spill frameworks developed by Ecology for specific geographic regions.

In the event of a spill in the region, the Northwest Area plan guides local emergency response, including keeping away the region’s endangered Southern Resident orcas, according to the release.

According to the release, Canada’s new spill response plan also better identifies natural resources at risk during a spill and the specifics of working with contractors to provide spill response equipment.

The section of the Trans Mountain Pipeline in Washington is called the Puget Sound Spur.

It serves four refineries in Whatcom and Skagit counties, crosses the Nooksack and Samish rivers, Swinomish Channel and many creeks, and passes along Padilla Bay.

The pipeline moved 2.6 billion gallons of crude oil from Canada to those refineries in 2017, according to Ecology.

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