Action Alert: Ensure oil spill prevention and response readiness in the Salish Sea!

Washington State requires refineries to have a state-approved oil spill response plan that ensures their ability to respond to major oil spills. Ecology is asking for public comments on the contingency plan for the Anacortes refinery that used to be called Tesoro, was then re-branded as Andeavor, and has now been bought by Marathon Oil. Your comment is needed to ensure oil spill prevention and response readiness in the Salish Sea!

Marathon Oil’s plan for responding to oil spills, fires, explosions, and unsafe air quality at their Anacortes refinery is not good enough to protect our communities, our waterways and wildlife, and all of us who live and work in this region.

There are two ways to submit your comment:

  1. Contact the Department of Ecology directly through their commenting portal by clicking here. Please submit comments via this method by 5 p.m. on Thursday, November 15.
  2. Use Stand Up to Oil’sOnline Commenting Tool by clicking here. Please submit comments via this method by 5 p.m. on Wednesday, November 14.

Marathon Oil’s plan for responding to oil spills; including associated fires, explosions, and impacts to air quality; doesn’t comply with existing state law – laws that need to be revised to more fully mitigate the current risks to our communities and marine ecosystem. We ask that the Department of Ecology take every step possible to require Marathon Oil to increase response preparedness in this plan, and we urge Ecology to implement regulations and requirements that more adequately respond to the risks posed by spills of non-floating oils and xylenes.

Marathon Oil’s Anacortes refinery has secured permits to manufacture and export xylenes (petrochemicals used in making plastics). The plan doesn’t include any mention of xylene let alone how to respond to a xylene spill. Xylenes are toxic, highly volatile, and can leak into the soil, surface water or ground water where it may remain for months or more before it breaks down into other chemicals.

Suggested comments:

Require the oil spill contingency plan to increase response preparedness and:

  • Include specific response plans and identify on-site response resources for both xylene spills and non-floating oil spills and associated fire, explosions, and fumes that impact air quality.
  • Include specific response plans to address the benthic species and resources that would be impacted by non-floating oil spills (that submerge and sink, such as diluted bitumen (aka Alberta Tar Sands and dilbit crude oil).
  • Revise the outdated Geographic Response Plans to better protect environmentally sensitive areas and wildlife, including endangered species such as the Southern Resident Killer Whales.

More information:

Click here to see Marathon Oil’s Contingency Plan.

Click here to see an article from the Skagit Valley Herald about the “rebranding” of the Anacortes refinery.

Click here to see an EPA Factsheet about Xylenes from 2016.

Click here to read “Xylene: An overview of its health hazards and preventive measures.”

Thank you for your voice!

It means so much to me to have helped protect the rural environment and natural beauty of the San Juan Islands during the 1980s and 90s. Now I get to share my appreciation of these beautiful islands with my grandchildren, too.

Nancy DeVaux

former Executive Director and member, San Juan Island