Updates to Washington’s GRPs

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.


Habitat Strategic Initiative Grant Program Webinar: Pilot Program – “Oil Spill Awareness and Response Support” Training

Are you interested in how to use training and development opportunities to connect volunteer organizations with agencies and others that can use them in an emergency?

Each year, over 20 billion gallons of oil and other hazardous chemicals are transported in the Puget Sound.  Trained volunteers can support spill response and assessment led by local and state agencies. The Oil Spill Awareness and Response Support (OSARS) training was designed to engage and prepare volunteer organizations to assist with oil spills in the Puget Sound region. This pilot program has helped to determine how to best connect volunteer organizations to oil spill response leads through expert-led trainings.  With continued OSARS trainings, diverse volunteer organizations can help build a network to support the coordinated agency response to oil spill emergencies.

Join the Habitat Strategic Initiative and Washington State University Extension on December 16th, 2020 at 1pm to learn more about the OSARS pilot program and the novel approach to connecting volunteer organizations with local and state emergency response agencies. For a project summary, check out the Project Factsheet.

Webinar Details

December 16th, 2020 at 1pm

Click here to join the meeting

Or call in (audio only): (206) 809-2214

Phone Conference ID: 144 532 092#

Project leads

Dr. Patricia Townsend is an Extension Specialist for Washington State University (WSU) and directs the Natural Resource Programs at Snohomish County Extension including Beach Watchers, Sustainable Community Stewards, and Promotores del Medio Ambiente. Patricia also works with stakeholders throughout the Pacific Northwest on issues related to climate change, sustainability, renewable energy, ecosystem services, and green infrastructure. Patricia received a Ph.D. from the University of Washington and a M.S. from the University of Florida.

Associate Professor and Natural Resources Regional Extension Specialist

Snohomish County Extension

Urban Natural Resources Specialist

Metropolitan Center for Applied Research & Extension

Washington State University

Snohomish County WSU Extension

(425) 357-6020


Jonathan Robinson is the Beach Watcher Program Coordinator for Washington State University (WSU) Extension in Snohomish County.  In this position he oversees volunteers that are dedicated to protecting the Salish Sea through education, research and stewardship.  Jonathan received his M.S. from Western Washington University and B.A from University of Hawaii at Hilo.

Beach Watchers Program Coordinator

Washington State University Snohomish County Extension


(425) 357-6008

This project is associated with NTA 2016-0315

This project has been funded wholly or in part by the United States Environmental Protection Agency under assistance agreement PC-01J22301 through the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. The contents of this document do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Environmental Protection Agency or the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, nor does mention of trade names or commercial products constitute endorsement or recommendation for use.

Please contact Jennifer Griffiths (jennifer.griffiths@dfw .wa.gov) or Cynthia Catton (cynthia.catton@dnr.wa.gov) with general questions regarding the Habitat Strategic Initiative and Cynthia Harbison (cynthia.harbison@dfw.wa.gov) regarding the webinar. Follow the work of all the Strategic Initiatives on our blog.