GRP Progress Report: January, 2022

We are writing to update you on the status of the 11 Geographic Response Plans (GRPs) currently open for updates in Washington. GRPs are planning documents for specific areas of the state at risk from oil spills. They contain contact information, site descriptions, resources at risk, and other response considerations. Each GRP includes pre-designed response strategies that guide early actions during an oil spill. These strategies are designed to minimize impacts to sensitive environmental, cultural, and economic resources. GRPs are part of the Northwest Area Contingency Plan and are co-managed by the EPA, the USCG, and the state.

In addition to the GRP updates described below, Ecology has spent the last year updating all GRPs that may be at risk from spills of non-floating oils (NFOs). This includes the addition of a Non-floating Oil Response Options and Considerations section. More information on the NFO update to GRPs can be found at our NFO Blog here: https://www.oilspills101.wa.gov/blog/

Below you will find a brief status update for the 11 open GRPs. For more information on a specific GRP, please contact the Preparedness Planner noted at the end of each overview. For general information on GRPs, please visit https://www.oilspills101.wa.gov/northwest-area-contingency-plan/geographic-response-plans-grps/

GRPs Open for Update

WRIA 7 (Snohomish Basin)

After meeting with tribes, trustee agencies, oil spill response contractors, and other stakeholders, fieldwork and data entry are complete. Ecology completed an internal review of proposed changes in December 2021. Additional consultation with stakeholders will occur in early 2022. Significant updates to this GRP include changing the name to the Snohomish Basin GRP (a more common term used to describe the planning area), an expansion of the planning area to include the Snoqualmie River, and the creation of new strategies to protect the recent restoration work in the Snohomish Estuary. Look for this GRP to be up for public comment period in spring 2022. It is our goal to finalize these updates and publish the new plan in the summer 2022. For more information on this GRP, please reach out to Nora Haider at nora.haider@ecy.wa.gov.

South Puget Sound

Work on the South Puget Sound GRP continues. Initial land-based fieldwork has been conducted. Additional fieldwork and stakeholder consultation are needed. Keep an eye out for future updates in 2022. For more information on this GRP, please reach out to Kaitlin Lebon at Kaitlin.lebon@ecy.wa.gov.

Lake Chelan

The Lake Chelan GRP opened for a full review in the summer of 2021. Initial fieldwork was conducted in July 2021, with additional fieldwork planned for spring and late summer 2022. A major goal of this update will be to assess strategies for both high and low water scenarios in Lake Chelan. For more information on this GRP, please reach out to Kaitlin Lebon at Kaitlin.lebon@ecy.wa.gov.

Lake Washington

Planning for fieldwork is underway. Coordination with federal, tribal, state, and local partners continues.  For more information on this GRP, please reach out to Sabrina Floudaras at Sabrina.Floudaras@ecy.wa.gov.

Lower Columbia River

This GRP update began in 2020 with a meeting between Washington State ECY, Oregon DEQ and USCG Sector Columbia River. A kick-off message was sent to stakeholders shortly after this initial meeting. We began fieldwork in the Lower Columbia River GRP area in late 2020; this work is ongoing. Fieldwork will continue on the Washington side of the river into 2022. Any interested parties can contact Darcy Bird at darcy.bird@ecy.wa.gov for more information or to coordinate collaboration on this important project.

San Juan Islands

This GRP was created when the formerly combined San Juan Islands/North Puget Sound GRP was divided into two separate plans. The final version of the updated North Puget Sound plan was published separately in June 2021. A draft of the San Juan Islands GRP was posted for a public comment period in early 2021, and valuable feedback created an opportunity to make the plan even better. We are currently working on incorporating the feedback into the plan. The estimated publication date is summer 2022. For more information on this GRP, please reach out to Max Gordon at max.gordon@ecy.wa.gov.

Clark Cowlitz Southwest Lewis

The last of the fieldwork was completed in June 2021. Ecology is now conducting an internal review of the proposed changes to the plan. Following our internal review of the draft update, the GRP will be posted for public comment. The estimated publication date is summer 2022. For more information on this GRP, please reach out to Max Gordon at max.gordon@ecy.wa.gov.

Strait of Juan de Fuca

Fieldwork is nearly complete. We are currently working with local tribes and resource agencies to finalize fieldwork and gather additional information to update remaining strategies. A blog was posted recently with more details on this GRP update: https://www.oilspills101.wa.gov/strait-of-juan-de-fuca-grp-update-progress. For more information on this GRP, please reach out to Wendy Buffett at Wendy.Buffett@ecy.wa.gov.

Snake River GRPs: Lower Monumental Pool, Little Goose Pool, Lower Granite Pool

Fieldwork for the three Snake River GRPs is complete and data entry is underway. Ecology is now conducting an internal review of the proposed changes to the plan. Following our internal panel review of the draft update, the GRP will be posted for public comment. For more information on these GRPs, please reach out to Scott Zimmerman at Scott.Zimmerman@ecy.wa.gov.

Grays Harbor

Work on this plan will begin in late 2022. There is no estimated timeline for publication of this plan at this time. For more information on this GRP, please reach out to Scott Zimmerman at Scott.Zimmerman@ecy.wa.gov.

Outer Coast

Work on this plan will begin in late 2022. There is no estimated timeline for publication of this plan at this time. For more information on this GRP, please reach out to Max Gordon at max.gordon@ecy.wa.gov.

 

Thank you for your continued support and collaboration

The success of a GRP requires the active engagement of the spill response community in the development, maintenance, and review of these documents. With your help, we are dedicated to ensuring the accuracy and effectiveness of our state’s GRPs – protecting the region’s environmental, cultural, and economic resources in the event of a large oil spill.

We greatly appreciate all of our partners – tribes, trustees, the regulated community, oil spill response organizations, and citizens of the state – who help make this work happen.

 

Strait of Juan de Fuca GRP Update Progress

Background

The Strait of Juan de Fuca Geographic Response Plan (GRP) had its last full-update and review in March, 2003. Since then, the plan has seen interim updates and recently, the addition of a new section concerning the risks posed by spills of non-floating oil.

Update Timeline for the Strait of Juan de Fuca GRP

The Strait of Juan de Fuca GRP was opened for a full update in January of 2018, followed by 14 months of fieldwork and meetings with tribes, ports, federal, state and local agencies, landowners, contractors, and many other interested parties. Fieldwork was conducted on nearly every response strategy in the plan, and proposed updates were designed and drafted. An Ecology review panel in March of 2019 identified the need for further discussions and fieldwork before the plan would be ready to publish. In April 2019, staff turnover paused the update while the plan was reassigned to me, Wendy Buffett.

Ecology conducting fieldwork with the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe. Near Sequim Bay, November 2018.

In February of 2020, the process continued with meetings between Ecology and representatives of the Makah Tribe, Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe, and Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe to discuss next steps. A day of field visits was planned for later that spring. On March 13, 2020 the COVID-19 lockdown started and all field work was canceled while both Ecology and the tribes pivoted to supporting emergency COVID response and began working from home. In the meantime, non-floating oil response information was created and added to several GRPs, including the Strait of Juan de Fuca, to meet a legislative mandate.

NWIFC and the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe discussing GRP strategies with Ecology, MSRC, Andeavor, and the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe. Elwha River estuary, May 2021.

In May 2021, a small group met at the mouth of the Elwha River to discuss issues that had come up during a virtual Worst-Case Drill a few weeks before. Staff from Ecology, Andeavor Port Angeles Terminal, MSRC, the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe, the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe, and the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission redesigned draft strategies on the Elwha and discussed next steps for the plan. I also began converting the old plan to the new web format, to allow incremental updates both before and after the full publication. Since vaccinations had eased several group’s safety restrictions, field work was restarted. In July 2021, I conducted a day of field visits with representatives from the Makah and MSRC Neah Bay. A second visit two weeks later was cancelled due to a local COVID outbreak, followed by the tightening of Ecology’s safety protocols in response to the delta variant surge.

Members of the Makah Tribe, who work as oil spill response contractors at MSRC’s Neah Bay office, in the field with a timber company representative and Ecology staff. Near the Pysht River estuary, July 2021.

Current Status

Ecology is currently updating strategies based on recent in-person and virtual consultations with the Makah tribe. Additional consultations with other tribes, agencies, and interested parties will occur over the next several months until all parties are happy with the updated strategies. Some field visits may occur as needed and when possible. During this time, I will continue the GRP update process and some updated strategies will overwrite their older versions in the online plan. Eventually, all older sections of the plan will be replaced with new versions, and the fully updated plan will be posted for a 30 day public comment period. After final edits, the plan will be published.

Questions and Requests for Meetings

If you have questions, or wish to request a virtual meeting, please reach out to me at wendy.buffett@ecy.wa.gov or 360-791-4325 and I will be happy to talk with you or your group.

North Puget Sound GRP has been updated!

The updated North Puget Sound Geographic Response Plan (GRP) has been updated and is also available in our new online format!

In 2019, the Northwest Area Committee convened a task force to study plan accessibility by finding out more about users and ways in which GRP documents are used. The task force developed a survey that generated valuable feedback around best practices, types of users, and ways to improve the development and publication process. A key outcome is the new GRP format hosted on this website.  This change was important to address efficiency and sustainability today and into the future.

The new online format allows users to easily scroll through text-heavy narrative sections like Site Description and Resources at Risk, while also maintaining the valuable PDF format of the response-oriented sections like Response Options and Considerations and Response Strategies and Priorities.

Also included in this update are special non-floating oil (NFO) considerations, including a new section on Non-Floating Oil Response Options and Considerations and updates to the standard Resources at Risk section.

We believe this format addresses many of the accessibility concerns of the response community, but we would love to hear your ideas on how we can make it better. Please submit your comments, questions, and suggestions for improvement to GRPs@ecy.wa.gov.

You can access the updated North Puget Sound GRP here: https://www.oilspills101.wa.gov/northwest-area-contingency-plan/geographic-response-plans-grps/north-puget-sound-grp/

 

New Update for Central Puget Sound GRP

The updated Central Puget Sound Geographic Response Plan (GRP) is now available in our new online format!

In 2019, the Northwest Area Committee convened a task force to study plan accessibility by finding out more about users and ways in which GRP documents are used. The task force developed a survey that generated valuable feedback around best practices, types of users, and ways to improve the development and publication process. A key outcome is the new GRP format hosted on this website.  This change was important to address efficiency and sustainability today and into the future.

The new online format allows users to easily scroll through text-heavy narrative sections like Site Description and Resources at Risk, while also maintaining the valuable PDF format of the response-oriented sections like Response Options and Considerations and Response Strategies and Priorities.

Also included in this update are special non-floating oil (NFO) considerations, including a new section on Non-Floating Oil Response Options and Considerations and updates to the standard Resources at Risk section.

We believe this format addresses many of the accessibility concerns of the response community, but we would love to hear your ideas on how we can make it better. Please submit your comments, questions, and suggestions for improvement to GRPs@ecy.wa.gov.

You can access the updated Central Puget Sound GRP here: https://www.oilspills101.wa.gov/northwest-area-contingency-plan/geographic-response-plans-grps/central-puget-sound-grp/

North Puget Sound GRP Is Open for Comments!

Howdy, OilSpills101 Blog Reader!

Darcy Bird surveying GRPs in Samish Bay aboard a WDFW airboat. Photo Credit: Brian MacDonald, WDFW

It is Darcy Bird again! I am excited to announce another plan I updated, the North Puget Sound (NPS) Geographic Response Plan (GRP), is now open for public comment!

GRPs aim to protect the sensitive natural, cultural, and economic resources in a specified geographic area. The geographic areas in Washington State with GRPs have associated risks from oil spills; industry may transport, store, refine, or transfer oil in these regions. The NPS GRP, encompassing the marine waters between the San Juan Islands to the east, mainland Washington to the west, Fidalgo Island to the south and the Canadian Border to the north, has unique risks, logistical concerns, and sensitive resources that I researched, conducted fieldwork on, and updated the strategies for during the plan update. A key part of this process is gathering input from the people who work, live, and play in this community. I hope to hear from you during this public comment period (December 21– February 15, 2021)!

Ecology last updated the North Puget Sound GRP in 2011 and much had changed in the region since then. For instance, research provided by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife determined that the location of an oil collection strategy on Samish Island was critical waterfowl habitat. We revised this strategy to exclude oil from beach habitat, rather than collect oil on the beach, an important change to protecting sensitive resources in Washington State. Our partners with the Lummi Indian Nation’s Oil Spill Response Team also provided important updates to GRPs on the Lummi Reservation. Through meticulous review of strategies, regular drilling of those strategies, and extensive fieldwork, the Lummi Nation Oil Spill Response Team have improved the many GRPs on the Lummi Reservation. Additionally, workshop attendees identified critical resources at risk at the unique and sensitive Padilla Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve. Scientists from the reserve identified research stations previously absent from the plan, critical habitat to prioritize and protect, and access points to strategies not easily navigate to by boat. These updates improved the response strategies in Padilla Bay enormously. A plan is only as good as the maintenance of that plan, which is why Ecology tries to regularly update GRPs.

Eelgrass beds in Samish Bay. Photo Credit: Darcy Bird

I grew up in Anacortes, WA, within this planning area, and many of the sites I visited in the course of my fieldwork were beaches and boat launches I had visited regularly as a child, teen, and places I regularly visit as an adult. As a teen, I participated in eelgrass replanting efforts in the region and learned about Marine Biology on the docks of Cap Sante Marina. Updating this GRP allowed me to view an area I had grown up in through a different lens and to help protect resources I love dearly. The maintenance of these geographic response plans are vital to our state’s preparedness in the event of an oil spill. Please follow the links below to review the draft of the updated GRP or provide comments. You may also submit comments by mail or email. Feel free to reach out to me with any questions or concerns at darcy.bird@ecy.wa.gov or 360-480-2084.

Review the draft GRP: https://fortress.wa.gov/ecy/ezshare/sppr/Preparedness/NPS-GRP/NPS_PublicReviewCoverPage.pdf

Comment online:

Use our online comment form http://sppr.ecology.commentinput.com/?id=NVpi7

Comment by mail:

Darcy Bird
Department of Ecology, Spills Program
PO Box 47600
Olympia, WA 98504-7600

Bayview State Park, looking north toward Samish Island. Bayview State Park lies in Padilla Bay. A workshop held during the update process identified resources at risk in Padilla Bay, accessibility to shallow water sites, and revised current strategies to be more effective during a spill scenario. Photo Credit: Darcy Bird
Mount Baker over the water in the early morning. Photo Credit: Darcy Bird

 

North Central Puget Sound GRP Response to Public Comments

The Washington Department of Ecology is updating the North Central Puget Sound (NCPS) Geographic Response Plan (GRP). An important part of the update process was hearing from the people that live, work, and play in the GRP area. To facilitate this, we opened the plan to public comment from September 18th  to October 18th, 2020.
Below, you will find an overview of comments received and Ecology’s response. Ecology appreciates everyone who took the time to provide comments on this GRP. GRPs are improved by this community’s input and we appreciate your ongoing efforts in protecting Washington’s environment. Feel free to reach out to  darcy.bird@ecy.wa.gov or 360-480-2084 with any questions.
 

North Central Puget Sound GRP Responsiveness Summary to Comments

Ecology post plans for public review for 30 days. After the 30 day public review period ends, Ecology addresses all comments received. The following is a responsiveness summary to your comments submitted to Ecology.

GRP Section

Public Comment

Ecology Response

General Updating GRPs is a critical, pro-active step in oil spill preparedness and response. Thank you for supporting Ecology’s effort to update Geographic Response Plans in Snohomish County.
General Changing the format of the GRP to a web-based one with downloadable sections and embedded links substantially increases the utility of the document, and facilitates a more effective, timely response, when implementation of the plan is necessary. Thank you for your feedback on the online platform we are migrating to in the upcoming year.
General Revisions of the Site Description and Resources at Risk sections are significant improvements. We greatly appreciate the inclusion of much of the county-specific information that we previously provided in writing during the 2017 Stillaguamish GRP update as well as with those we discussed with you in-person during our meeting last year (Sept.2019). On behalf of Ecology and the Spills Program, I would like to thank the Snohomish Marine Resources Committee for going above and beyond in the review of this GRP. Thanks to your tireless work in preparedness, this plan is clearer and will be more effective in a potential spill.
General Recommend acknowledging and cross-referencing between adjacent GRPs, when applicable, given the hydrologic connectivity of the region, the widespread distribution and mobility of the area’s sensitive natural resources, and the significant importance of the local cultural and economic resources. Such cross-references would allow spill responders to be better informed and potentially help them more effectively minimize regional spill-related impacts. As Ecology moves GRPs to an online platform, there will be cross referencing on the JETTY site that will assist responders in identifying resources at risk across GRP boundaries.
Site Description 2.6 RISK ASSESSMENT 2.6 ? Are other sections numbered? Please check for consistency. This was an error in numbering- the 2.6 has been removed from the GRP.
Site Description Aircraft: The Whidbey Naval Air Station and Payne Paine Field (Everett) … note spelling correction The spelling error has been corrected in the GRP.
Site Description Recreational Boating: Accidents involving recreational watercraft in the planning area have the potential to result in spills of a few gallons of gasoline up to hundreds of gallons of diesel fuel various petroleum products (e.g., gasoline, diesel, lubricants). Thank you for your recommended edits to this paragraph- the sentence has been updated in the GRP and reads much clearer now.
Response Contacts Sheet Thanks for sending the response contact page for the NCPS GRP.  The only addition that I would suggest is to consider  including the Snohomish Conservation District. It works very closely and collaboratively with farmers, agriculture folks, and rural landowners throughout the county and may be a valuable asset to contact in the event of a spill response. Due to the general role of conservation districts, it seems inappropriate to include them in the emergency contacts sheet. However, conservation districts do represent significant economic resources, and their contact information is now included in the economic resources at risk section of the plan.
Non-Floating Oils Response Options Water turbidity The use of the term “sedimentation” in multiple contexts is somewhat inaccurate and misleading. Suggest replacing text with: Turbulence can result in increased sediment loads in the water column that, if entrained with spilled oil, may increase the oil’s density and cause it to submerge or sink. The corresponding section was updated to include the clarifications surrounding sedimentation/turbulence. This change will be made in all GRPs with a corresponding non-floating oil section.
Non-Floating Oils Response Options In the “Conditions And Considerations For Non-Floating Oil” table: If “Open Public Shellfish Harvesting” and “Open Commercial Shellfish Harvesting” include Dungeness crab harvesting, then these categories are present in Port Gardner/Possession Sound. Spawning Areas are present in the Port Gardner/Possession Sound area.
o A Recreational Dive Area is present in Port Gardner/Possession Sound (i.e., the Mukilteo T-dock dive site near the ferry/Silver Cloud Hotel)
Thank you for identifying additional information for this new section of the GRP. The grid has been updated to reflect the information you shared in your comment, except for the open public shellfish harvesting in Port Gardner. I used the Department of Health’s shellfish harvesting map layer to determine the absence or presence of public shell fishing. The only beach mapped in the general area has been closed to public shellfish harvest.
Response Strategies and Priorities Given the significant ecological, tribal, and recreational/economic resources at risk in the Port Susan area, it would be advisable to consider a response strategy for the Kayak Point region of Sector NC-4. Kayak Point County Park is located there. It has a boat ramp and a large parking lot, and could be used as a response staging area. The protection of resources at risk during an oil spill are not limited to what is contained in a Geographic Response Plan. Due to the feasibility and accessibility of the Port Susan area, it would be difficult to design an effective response strategy in this area without better defining a specific resource at risk to protect. However, during a spill ad hoc strategies should and would be developed to keep oil out of Port Susan. Kayak Point County Park will be included in the plan as a more localized staging area for Port Susan, per your comment.
Response Strategies and Priorities There is a NCPS GRP response strategy and option for the railroad crossing of the Stillaguamish River near West Pass (NC-14), but not for the nearby railroad crossing over the Stillaguamish River just west-north-west of Silvana (near the intersection with South Slough). The ecologically and economically sensitive resources in that area, coupled with the large quantities of oil transported by rail in Snohomish County, warrant further consideration for a response plan at this location. COOKS-0.2, within the Stillaguamish River GRP, serves as a collection strategy at the railroad crossing near South Slough. Additionally, downriver of the railroad crossings in this vicinity is HATS-1.75, another collection strategy designed to prevent oil from entering Port Susan. Also, NCPS-15 is a collection strategy downstream of another railroad crossing that would prevent oil from entering Port Susan. No additional GRPs will be added to NCPS at this time, however a note will be added to the Stillaguamish GRP, where the railroad crossings exist, to look into more protection strategies, as needed.
Resources at Risk Eelgrass beds Delete last sentence of the paragraph The kelp beds present near Deception Pass and the northern part of Skagit Bay serve as important fish rearing areas. This sentence was deleted per your request, it duplicates information that is gone into at greater depth in a later paragraph.
Resources at Risk Revise paragraph on kelp beds as follows: Scattered kelp beds occur in the northern portions of the region, near Deception Pass and the northern part of Skagit Bay, as well in the southern portion of the region, near Gedney (Hat) Island. These habitats perform ecological functions similar to eelgrass beds, and serve as important fish rearing areas. The paragraph on kelp beds was revised, per your recommendations.
Resources at Risk Restoration sites are areas where significant efforts have occurred to restore natural functions in a degraded habitat. The missing verb was added to this section.
Resources at Risk Rock reefs Sentence revision: Macro algae, and including kelps, also widely utilize the structure that this type of habitat provides. Addition: The crevices and overhangs associated with these reefs serve as valuable habitat for a wide variety of other species such as crabs, shrimp, octopus, wolf eel, rockfish, cabezon and lingcod. The language in this section was updated to include kelp as a macro algae, thank you for the correction. Additionally, cabezon were added to the list of species in this section.
Resources at Risk Marbled murrelets occur throughout the region, especially near Deception Pass, within Saratoga Passage, and in the southern portion of Port Susan and Port Gardner/Possession Sound. Port Gardner and Possession Sound were added to this section of the plan.
Resources at Risk Small numbers of gray whales are commonly found in Saratoga Passage, and Port Susan, Port Gardner and Possession Sound from spring through late fall. Port Gardner and Possession Sound were added to this section of the plan.
Resources at Risk 8. Old Stillaguamish River Channel: Eelgrass, wetland, salt marsh and slough habitats. Salmonid spawning and rearing habitat. Presence of federally threatened bull trout, Puget Sound Chinook, and Puget Sound steelhead. Waterfowl and shorebird concentrations.). Harbor seals. Leque Island and zis a ba restoration sites. The unnecessary “)” has been removed from the plan.
Resources at Risk 13. Possession Sound, Gedney (Hat) Island and vicinity: Forage fish spawning. Juvenile salmonids and rearing habitat. Dungeness crab and shellfish. Bald eagle nesting and marbled murrelet. Orca, humpback whales, and gray whale feeding area (spring through fall). Possession Sound was added to the title of number 14, and the additional species were updated per your recommendation.
Resources at Risk 14. Cultus Bay: This area is not within the boundary of the NCPS GRP. It is in the adjacent Admiralty Inlet GRP. Recommend deleting from the document’s text and Geographic Areas of Concern Figure 3. A clarifying statement was added to this paragraph, directing the reader to the Admiralty Inlet GRP for more information.
Economic Resources at Risk Please add Edgewater Beach Park and the Mount Baker Terminal Shipping Facility. Both are located in Mukilteo/South Everett and are owned by the Port of Everett (check to see if Mukilteo will be the manager/point of contact for the Edgewater Beach Park as part of the city’s Waterfront Landing Plan/Project currently in progress). Both locations represent economic resources potentially impacted in the event of an oil spill in the area and should be identified in the GRP. Thank you for identifying these additional economic resources at risk for addition in the NCPS GRP. Both Edgewater Park and the Mount Baker Terminal have been added to the economic resources at risk portion of the plan.

Central Puget Sound GRP – Open for Public Comment!

Deployed boom outside the Shell Harbor Island facility in Seattle, WA.

My name is Wendy Buffett, I’m an oil spill preparedness planner with Ecology, and I’m so excited to announce the Central Puget Sound (CPS) Geographic Response Plan (GRP) is now open for public comment!

GRPs aim to protect the sensitive natural, cultural, and economic resources in a specified geographic area. A key part of this process is gathering input from the people who work, live, and play in this community. I hope to hear from you during this public comment period (November 5th– December 10th).

Ecology last fully updated the Central Puget Sound GRP in 1994, and obviously much has changed since then. This area includes ten bulk oil facilities, two railroads now moving crude, two petroleum pipelines, and several bulk oil shipping companies. All are regulated by Ecology and are required to test GRP strategies twice per year during deployment drills. After 25 years of these tests, people had a lot to say about this GRP.

Why this update took 5 years

The update for this plan actually started in 2015. Harry Chichester was originally assigned to this update, and from the start he worked with Tribes, the US Navy, the US Coast Guard, oil facilities, spill response contractors, state and local agencies, environmental organizations, and other non-governmental groups. Based on those conversations and field visits, he added over 150 potential new strategies to the existing 82 sites, with the intention of removing many of them during a quality control process. However he retired just after fieldwork was completed, leaving nearly 250 strategies to be evaluated.

Around the time Harry retired, our team was meeting a legislative order that doubled the amount of GRPs in the state. When we finished in June 2017, there were 42 GRPs to be maintained by three planners. Over time, our process has changed, we added some more people to our team, and the Central Puget Sound GRP was reassigned to me.

So I reviewed hundreds of strategies, using notes and photos, to whittle the list down. I focused on whether the strategies could be effectively deployed, and if they fit the criteria in the Northwest Area Contingency Plan, based on input from Tribes, state agencies, and oil spill response contractors. The changes are summarized in a spreadsheet, linked in the below PDF.

Between training, oil spill contingency plan maintenance, drills, GRP site visits, data entry, meeting with experts, and writing chapters, it took two years until the draft was ready. I shared a portion of it with resource agencies and tribes – right as our COVID lockdown started. So again, the draft was paused while we figured out what the pandemic meant for meaningful outreach and our own workloads. Over the summer, we created a tool to add non-floating oil information to GRPs, so that we can update plans in time to meet an upcoming legislative deadline.

Requesting comments during a pandemic

Now, 5 years after the Central Puget Sound GRP was opened, an updated draft is available. I am so pleased that this plan is finally available for review, but not that it is happening during a pandemic.  To make sure that everyone gets a chance to contribute, comments will be requested again in 2021.

These geographic response plans are vital to our state’s preparedness in the event of an oil spill. Please follow the links below to review the draft of the updated GRP or provide comments. You may also submit comments by mail or email. Feel free to reach out to me with any questions or concerns at wendy.buffett@ecy.wa.gov or 360-791-4385.

Review the draft GRP: https://fortress.wa.gov/ecy/ezshare/sppr/Preparedness/CPS-GRP/CPS-PublicReviewCoverPage.pdf

Comment online:

Use our online comment form: http://sppr.ecology.commentinput.com/?id=jpUJb

Comment by mail:

Wendy Buffett
Department of Ecology, Spills Program
PO Box 47600
Olympia, WA 98504-7600