Coast Guard Signs Agreement to Help Protect Puget Sound

SEATTLE – Governor Chris Gregoire and U. S. Coast Guard Rear Admiral Richard Houck today signed a Memorandum of Agreement governing how the state and federal government will work together to better prevent, prepare for and respond to oil spills in Washington. The agreement signals a strengthening partnership between the United States Coast Guard and the State of Washington to continue to protect our shared waters, natural resources, economic base and community and cultural resources.

“We clearly have one of the best oil spill programs in the country,” said Governor Gregoire. “That said, our greatest enemy is complacency – we need to renew our vigilance and we must pursue continuous improvement in our programs. We are still a long way from our established federal and state goals of zero-spills – we still see many smaller spills, and we have more and bigger ships – increasing our risk of a spill.”

“Today’s MOA will add yet another layer of value to the Coast Guard’s rigorous prevention system which includes vessel inspections, an international Vessel Traffic Service, extensive aids to navigation network and a dynamic search and rescue capability,” said RADM Richard Houck. “Together, as part of our larger prevention system, the signed MOA will add focus to what already is an important partnership.”

The state’s keen interest in spill prevention, preparedness and response stems from citizen and legislative interest in protecting Washington’s unique and valuable marine environmental resources. The MOA enables both parties to demonstrate adherence to tangible standards of practices that testify to the parties’ recognition of, and service to, this high level of public interest in avoiding, preparing for and responding to oil and hazardous material spills.

The MOA, and associated strategic work plan and protocols, will address areas such as vessel and facilities inspections, derelict vessel removal, investigations, spill response, drills, contingency planning, media notification and more. The protocols outline in detail how technical cooperation is to be achieved in the partners’ day-to-day operations.

The strategic work plan lists objectives to accomplish under the three major categories, and is published on line at a shared Ecology/Coast Guard web site, http://www.ecy.wa.gov/programs/spills/ecyuscg/summit.html. Through this web site, Ecology and the Coast Guard are providing transparency to the public on the many areas of work the parties do to prevent, prepare for and respond to oil spills.

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