Starting Oct. 1, facilities that receive shipments of crude oil and pipelines that deliver crude oil will be required to notify the state Department of Ecology of anticipated oil transport, which the state can pass on to emergency responders along oil train and pipeline routes.
The rule is intended to improve the safety of communities along railroad tracks and pipelines being used to move crude oil through the state.
“In the wake of recent oil train disasters, Washington is moving quickly to improve public safety and protect our natural resources,” Gov. Jay Inslee said in a news release. “This rule will assure that our emergency responders get advanced notice before oil train shipments arrive in their communities.”
The “Oil Movement by Rail and Pipeline Notification” rule, adopted by the state Department of Ecology on Wednesday, will be the state’s first oil transport reporting standard, according to the release.
Reporting the movement of crude oil was previously required under a 2014 emergency order from the U.S. Department of Transportation. The order required railroads moving Bakken crude oil from North Dakota to report the estimated volume and frequency of trains carrying more than 1 million gallons of the material to state emergency response commissions.
The state rule applies instead to pipelines and facilities receiving bulk crude oil rail shipments of any volume, whether it’s 100 rail cars or 10 rail cars, Brooks said.
Under the rule, the four refineries will be required to report any anticipated train deliveries — even if they find out about it only a day in advance — in addition to vessel deliveries, which are already submitted, Brooks said.
Pipelines will be required to submit reports twice a year about the origin and volume of the crude oil being moved. Ecology will be able to provide emergency responders and government agencies with access to the information by request, and will publish quarterly reports for the public.
The state Legislature directed Ecology in 2015 to develop rules for reporting oil movement through the state because of an increase in trains transporting oil from North Dakota and pipelines transporting oil from Canada.
“Providing adequate information helps to protect the lives of people living and working near railroads and pipelines, the economy and environmental resources of Washington State,” according to Ecology.