Grants help local communities respond to oil spills quickly

(OLYMPIA)– In an effort to reduce the impacts of an oil spill when it happens, the Department of Ecology is helping fund emergency response equipment for 11 communities.

In 2016, the Tyee Marina fire in Tacoma and the Port Orchard Yacht Club fire each had a leg up because local emergency responders had a stash of state-funded oil spill response equipment nearby to quickly deploy while Ecology spill responders headed their way.

Responders to the 2016 Mosier, Ore., oil train derailment also got a boost because the Yakama Nation had a cache of state-funded spill response equipment stored nearby.

Not all spill incidents have this good fortune. When an oil spill happens, the nearest response equipment may be hours away.

The 11 grants totaling $333,500 will provide local emergency response organizations the money to purchase equipment they need to respond to oil spills, hazardous materials and fires. The funding program is directed by the state’s Oil Transportation Safety Act.

Grant recipients include the Swinomish Indian Tribal Community with $30,000 for a spill response equipment cache trailer, and Tulalip Tribes with $30,000 for oil containment boom and a trailer.

Cities, counties, ports, tribal governments and other public agencies and districts are eligible to apply for funding, which is derived from a tax on hazardous substances that includes petroleum products.

Ecology selected these 11 grants during the 2015-17 grant process, identifying them as funding priorities under the current state budget. Ecology accepted applications for additional oil and hazardous materials equipment through Nov. 30, 2017. Those applications are currently being evaluated for future grant funding, which is expected when the state finalizes its supplemental budget in 2018.