Ecology field visits help operators understand new oil transfer
Washington companies and operators that transfer oil over water to non-recreational vessels got some unanticipated help this month on successfully complying with the Department of Ecology (Ecology) oil transfer rules adopted in September 2006.
On March 8 and 15, Ecology staff made technical assistance visits to 65 oil transfer locations across the state. Since different requirements are being phased in during the rule's first year, the agency's "Answers to Transfers" campaign was designed to answer questions and provide guidance about how the rule will affect different types of regulated facilities.
The new regulations describe how oil must be transferred over water to tank vessels, fishing, cargo and passenger ships, oil storage facilities, and, for the first time, tank trucks, rail cars and marinas fueling non-recreational vessels.
Ecology estimates that on average more than 31 million gallons of oil are transferred over water every day in Washington. There also are at least 150 oil transfer locations serving non-recreational vessels across the state.
The rules are designed to prevent oil spills, improve spill response readiness and minimize the environmental impacts of spills that might occur. Since July 1, 2006, Ecology also has added five field inspectors to monitor oil transfers.
The field visits involved 46 Ecology spill prevention inspectors, field responders and spill readiness planners. O'Brien said the visits also helped the agency get a clearer picture about the facilities where oil is being transferred.
17 large, fixed facilities such as refineries, fueling terminals and pipelines.
Five mobile operations such as tank trucks, railcars and portable fuel tanks.
Six small fuel tank farms and terminals that transfer oil to vessels that have a total oil capacity of 10,500 or more gallons.
37 marinas that transfer fuel to non-recreational vessels that have a total oil capacity of less than 10,500 gallons.
The field visits generated a wide variety of questions from the different operators particularly about placing oil containment boom around vessels prior to transferring oil, clarifying alternatives to booming that are acceptable under the rules, and reporting and training .
Ecology is evaluating the field from the visits to provide more targeted assistance to the different types of fueling operations regulated by the new rules.