Oil Spill Response in Puget Sound and
Northwest Washington Waters

Coordinated interagency efforts Ö when needed.

Goals for Oil Spill Response

Despite the best prevention efforts, accidents and hazardous situations still happen. Thatís why a national planning and response system was established as part of the Oil Pollution Act of 1990. Under this system, area committees were formed which included representatives of federal, state, tribal and local agencies. They are responsible for developing area contingency plans to address responses to worst-case discharges of oil or hazardous substances to protect the people and resources of the Pacific Northwest. The area committee plans for joint response efforts, including mechanical recovery, use of dispersants, in-situ burning, shoreline cleanup, protection of sensitive areas, and protection, rescue, and rehabilitation of fish and wildlife. In the event of a spill, the system calls for the responsible party to take the necessary action to clean up the spill and minimize any environmental damage. The Coast Guardís role as the federal on-scene coordinator is to provide oversight and help determine the best response to each incident. If the responsible party is unable or unwilling to take proper action, the Coast Guard will take direct control of a response by contracting with a commercial response organization. The Coast Guard investigates the cause of each spill in hopes of preventing future spills.


Historical Spill Considerations

The largest spill in the Puget Sound area involving a vessel was the grounding of the tank vessel Arco Anchorage in Port Angeles, Wash., Dec. 21, 1985. Approximately 239,000 gallons of crude oil was spilled into Port Angeles Harbor. An analysis of oil spills from 1981 to 1989, clearly shows that the most common release of oil occurs during fuel transfer processes, most commonly associated with smaller vessels releasing a maximum of several hundred gallons of marine diesel fuel. The few recent larger events include the Arco Anchorage, Nestucca (off

the Washington coast) and Tenu Maru (outside the entrance to the Straight of Juan de Fuca), each discharging petroleum products in the 200,000 gallon range.

Large Well Known Marine Spills

Most spills in Puget Sound range in size from a few ounces to a few gallons. Some of the larger spills include:

  • Fishing Vessel Tenyo Maru in 1991, spilled 100,000 gals of petroleum products 22 miles off Cape Flattery.
  • Tank Ship Arco Anchorage in 1985, spilled 239,000 gals of crude oil while at anchor in Port Angeles.
  • Barge 101 in 1995, spilled 23,000 gals of diesel while in transit near Padillo Bay.
  • Barge Nestucca in 1988, spilled 227,000 gals of Bunker C off Grays Harbor.
  • Barge MCN 5 in 1985, spilled 67,000 gals of heavy cycle gas oil when it sunk near Fidalgo Head

Puget Sound cleanup resources

The following organizations are Coast Guard certified oil spill removal organizations that have equipment and people available to respond to Puget Sound spills. These companies have varying degrees of capability and response times. Some can respond immediately while others can bring in resources for larger, more prolonged spill situations. The majority of Puget Soundís oil spill cleanup equipment and resources reside with these companies.

  • Advanced Cleanup Technologies, Inc. (Carson, CA)
  • Clean Pacific (Seattle, WA)
  • Clean Sound Cooperative Inc
  • Foss Environmental Services Company
  • Global Diving & Salvage
  • Marine Spill Response Corporation (MSRC)
  • Oil Mop, LLC (Belle Chasse, LA)


Other sources

The Thirteenth Coast Guard District Public Affairs Office (dep) created this page on January 10, 2000and last modified it June 13, 2000. This page may be reproduced locally. If any changes are needed please notify D13 (dep) at 206.220.7237. More Coast Guard information can be accessed at http://www.uscg.mil and a complete listing of these fact sheets can be found at http://www.uscg.mil/d13.