Thursday, April 28, 2016

Oil Spills in Practice Drills and in Ocean Shores

The following article contains a timeline of the hypothetical response to a oil tanker spill. While this spill was make-believe, they could have easily come out to Ocean Shores and worked on an actual oil spill. Read on for what is happening on our shoreline this month.


Is Washington ready for the next big oil spill?

Samantha Larson April 25, 2016 via Crosscut
The drill scenario: It’s 5:45 a.m., and a boat has just left anchor off the coast of Vendovi Island, located between Lummi Island and Anacortes. But someone’s not paying attention, and so it crashes into another nearby ship. Both vessels are damaged; thick, heavy fuel oil begins to ooze into the water. By the time the crews have secured the leaks, about 2,100 gallons have leaked out of each boat. Now 6:30am, it’s time to launch the response plan 
“They’re well-equipped to handle a 4,000-gallon spill,” Eric Nalder, an investigative journalist who won two Pulitzer Prizes for his reporting on oil transportation, told Crosscut. But while the spill scenario practiced in the drill is certainly far bigger than most of the more than 4,000 oil spills reported to the Department of Ecology every year, it pales in comparison the Arco Anchorage’s 239,000 gallons, which itself is a fraction of the 11 million gallons spilled in the pristine Prince William Sound from the Exxon Valdez in 1989, or the 130 million gallons spilled into the Gulf of Mexico in 2010.

Sure, things have changed since then, but we’re not seeing less oil move through our waters – in fact, a report that came out last year predicts we’ll see 2,000 new oil tankers and barges in the Pacific Northwest, thanks to the expansion of rail-terminals and pipelines. Oil tankers carry as much as 55 million gallons of crude. While barges carry less — at most 14 million gallons — they still carry a lot, and they are far less regulated. A report released this month by Friends of the Earth, written by environmental consultant and recently elected Port of Seattle Commissioner Fred Fellman, highlights the risks associated with the transport of Canadian tar sands oil across the Salish Sea.
photo via Dept of Ecology flickr page

On April 15th, Fishing Vessel  Privateer ran aground and sank, just off the breakers at Ocean Shores. After calling in a 8 to 12 inch gash to the boat, 3 crew members were rescued by the Coast Guard
The 75 foot fishing boat had a capacity for 5,500 gallons of deisel fuel.
April 16, 2016 12:30 p.m.Today the F/V Privateer remains aground, still intact although the hull is damaged and breached. It is estimated that 2,500 gallons of diesel, 500 gallons of lube/motor oil and 6 55-gallon drums (including waste oil) were on board. One drum has been recovered so far.
By Saturday, local residents were reporting a diesel smell, but no sheening or oil was seen on the beach. Choppy seas and a strong surf have prevented the salvage company from defueling and securing the boat.

April 20, 2016 9 a.m.
The U.S. Coast Guard and Ecology are continuing to respond to the F/V Privateer, which is aground on the outer beach at Ocean Shores, just north of the north jetty. The vessel owner's spill response contractor/salvage company, Global Diving and Salvage, is still on scene picking up debris when it comes ashore. Periodic reports of diesel odors in the area north and east of the vessels location persist, but the odor is considered a nuisance only.

Estimates for the potential to be released remain the same -- 2,500 gallons of diesel, 500 gallons of lube oil and six drums (including waste oil). One drum has been recovered so far. No estimate is available for the volume of oil that may have been spilled because of the inability to safely access the vessel.
A local commercial fisherman tells us that the barrels of used oils were on board the boat because The Port of Grays Harbor recently stopped accepting the used oil from out-going boats for secure disposal on land. This cost cutting move forces boats to store these barrels on board until a friendlier Port gives them a disposal option.

April 25, 2016 11:30 a.m.

Ecology and the U.S. Coast Guard continue to monitor the situation in Ocean Shores where the F/V Privateer remains grounded.
Due to safety concerns, gaining access to, defueling, and/or salvaging the vessel may is delayed until early May (6, 7, or 8) when tidal conditions are more favorable.
Since last week the diesel odor has lessened, along with the amount of boat debris being washed ashore.
According to the Department of Ecology, approximately  3,000 gallons of oil are lost, 
But Hey! The smell is gone, so the oils must be gone too!
At least one weekend Razor Clam dig has been cancelled, presumably the beaches won't re-open until the ship is removed.

We are currently in a 30 day comment period, for the renewal of REG's 5 year permit. We are asked to comment on the current permit, while REG continues to ask for a massive expansion to its operations, without adequite Environmental Impact Studies examinations. 
You might want to point out the ongoing sinking and oil spill that can't be addressed until the first week of May in your comment. 
Ask them why if The Port of Grays Harbor doesn't want to handle this small ammount of used waste fuel from ships, they are eager to sign off on permits allowing 2.7 billion gallons of Crude Oil storage here.

Ecology invites public review and comment on updated oil spill prevention plans.

Interested public, local and tribal governments are invited to review and comment on required 5 year updates to industry oil spill plans. These updates are required by the state’s oil spill planning regulations.

Washington Administration Code (WAC) 173-180 requires oil handling facilities to have a state-approved plan for prevention of oil spills from the facility into waters of the state, and for the protection of fisheries and wildlife, other natural resources, and public or private property from oil spills.

The following plan is now available for public review:

Name of company: REG Grays Harbor LLC Review starts: April 21, 2016
Review Ends: May 23, 2016 at the close of business (5 p.m.)

Provide comments by email to, or by regular mail:

Steve Ogle
Spill Prevention, Preparedness, and Response Program
Department of Ecology
PO Box 47600
Olympia, WA 98504-7600

Find more information about oil spill prevention regulations in Washington, visit:
For more information on plans open for public comment, visit:
To review the plan, visit:
Thank you for taking the time to provide us with your comments. We will consider all comments and complete the review no later than 30 days after the close of the public review period.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Supreme Court accepts ORMA Case

High court agrees to consider whether protections in a vital natural resources law apply

Olympia, WA—Today, the Washington State Supreme Court agreed to decide whether a state law to protect ocean resources applies to crude oil export projects proposed in Grays Harbor.  The projects would move billions of gallons of crude oil out of Grays Harbor and through Washington’s open ocean every year.

In late 2013, the Quinault Indian Nation, Friends of Grays Harbor, Sierra Club, Grays Harbor Audubon, and Citizens for a Clean Harbor successfully challenged the initial permits issued for the Westway and Imperium (now REG) oil shipping terminal projects in Grays Harbor, forcing further public safety and environmental review that is currently ongoing.  That review, however, does not take into account the tighter standards demanded of projects under ORMA (Ocean Resources Management Act), as a Washington appellate court in Tacoma found that ORMA did not apply to oil shipping terminals.

Earthjustice, representing the Quinault Indian Nation and conservation groups, appealed the decision.  The Washington State Supreme Court will hear the case.

“We have a state law on the books that demands protection for Washington’s natural ocean resources, particularly in Grays Harbor, and yet the Department of Ecology ignores it,” said Matt Baca, an attorney with Earthjustice. “Grays Harbor is beautiful, thriving, and irreplaceable, especially for the people who have depended on it since time immemorial. We are glad this important law will get its day before the Washington State Supreme Court.”


  • The Washington Department of Ecology found that these projects create serious and harmful risks of oil spills, collisions, derailments, fires, and explosions that would cause significant and unavoidable environmental damage.
  • An economic study commissioned by the Quinault Indian Nation found that a major oil spill could put more than 150 tribal commercial fishermen out of a job, resulting in a direct loss of as much as $20 million in wages and up to $70 million in revenue for affected businesses.
  • Marine resource jobs support more than 30% of Grays Harbor’s workforce according to a 2013 study by the University of Washington.
  • In 2014 Washington residents took an estimated 4.1 million trips to the Washington Coast spending $481 million according to a recent study. More than one-third of those visits were to Grays Harbor County to enjoy its spectacular and productive coastal and ocean waters.
  • The Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife stated “Grays Harbor is an area particularly sensitive to the adverse effects of oil spills.”
  • # #
  • Ed Note: Big thanks to Earthjustice, the premier nonprofit environmental law organization. We wield the power of the law and the strength of partnership to protect people’s health, to preserve magnificent places and wildlife, to advance clean energy, and to combat climate change. We are here because the earth needs a good lawyer.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

This Changes Everything

We're very excited to offer this movie to Grays Harbor in partnership with Meaningful Movies.
Presented by Citizens for a Clean Harbor and Meaningful Movies.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016
Doors open at 6:30, movie begins at 7pm.
The 7th Street Theatre, 313 7th St. 

Free admission, donations to cover screening costs & expenses kindly accepted.

Join us to watch this timely movie about the most important issue of our times, Climate Change.

The film, This Changes Everything is an epic attempt to re-imagine the vast challenge of climate change. Inspired by Naomi Klein’s international non-fiction bestseller of the same name, the film presents seven powerful portraits of communities on the front lines. Throughout the film, Klein builds to her most controversial and exciting idea: that we can seize the existential crisis of climate change to transform our failed economic system into something radically better. This event is in support of a positive outcome from the work done at COP21, and bringing meaningful awareness to what we can all do now to build a carbon-free future for ourselves and our children.

After the movie, we will have a panel discussion with Liz Ellis, who is building a Community Garden in Aberdeen and bringing solar options to Grays Harbor. She will be joined by Paul Elwood who will discuss the I-732 Cabon Tax initiative that will be on the Fall ballot.