Coast Guard and Washington State sign pollution prevention and response understanding

Pacific Northwest Coast Guard NewsSEATTLE — The United States Coast Guard and State of Washington signed a memorandum of understanding at Coast Guard Base Seattle, Friday.

Rear Adm. Keith A. Taylor, Commander of the Thirteenth Coast Guard District, and Governor Christine Gregoire, signed the understanding which affirms the continued teamwork to prevent, plan for and respond to an oil or hazardous substance spill on the navigable waters of the United States that occur within or may impact State waters.

There has been a substantial reduction in the occurrence of major oil spills within Washington state waters from marine sources, particularly over the past two decades. This has happened as a result of the enactment of the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 and other related federal and state legislation and implementing regulations, as well as numerous regional joint studies and actions on oil spill risk assessment and management.

A safe, secure, and strong marine transportation system for economic security of the state, the region and the nation is critical. The Coast Guard and the state share the goal of achieving zero spills.

“Washington state is the most trade dependent state in the nation,” said Gregoire. “Our ports provide the shortest shipping route to Asian markets from the lower 48 states – and because of our success, the number of ships using our waters is expected to dramatically increase during the next 10 years. Risk for a spill is substantial and as the traffic on our waters increases, so does the risk. While we have one of the best oil-spill programs in the country, we cannot afford to be complacent. This MOU reaffirms our commitment to protect and safeguard our waters.”

The purpose of this partnership is to build excellent communications, strong regional partnerships, effective public outreach, and broad based public trust.

“We have a shared vision to keep our waters safe and free from oil and hazardous substances,” said Rear Adm. Taylor. “This MOU reaffirms the proactive partnership we have with the State of Washington to address existing and emerging challenges in preventing and responding to spills that impact our waters in the Pacific Northwest.”

When marine oil and hazardous material spills occur, a rapid, aggressive, and well coordinated response and cleanup by the responsible party, federal, state, tribal and local agencies is necessary to minimize adverse effects on the environment, economy, quality of life, and tribal values. The Coast Guard and State will continue to work together and with the Northwest Area Committee and Regional Response Team, to manage significant spills and incidents in a Unified Command using the Incident Command System.

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