The Washington Department of Ecology updated the Grays Harbor Geographic Response Plan this week and responded to comments from the public.
Ecology accepted comments on the plan through October on the draft updates used to improve site-specific oil-spill response strategies for Grays Harbor.
Comments were received from throughout Grays Harbor, including the Quinault Indian Nation, Imperium Renewables, Pacific Coast Shellfish Growers Association, Friends of Grays Harbor, Weyerhaeuser, and the Grays Harbor Audubon Society.
Ecology said, “We appreciate the time and effort all contributors provided in developing and submitting their comments on the existing and draft versions of the Grays Harbor Geographic Response Plan.” According to the department, a number of substantial comments were provided by the Quinault Indian Nation in a letter from Natural Resources Director Dave Bingaman. Their response to the Quinault Indian Nation will be made to them directly.
In the comments, a letter form the Friend of Grays Harbor stated that, “The Response Plan is inadequate for dealing with anything but a small spill in one location, a scenario that is unlikely given that potentially 97.4 million gallons of crude oil will be stored on the estuary at any given time.”
Ecology responded by saying, “The Grays Harbor Geographic Response Plan (GRP) isn’t intended to represent the universe of everything that should, could, or would be done to protect sensitive resources during an oil spill. It’s not designed or intended to guide all response actions and activities from the beginning of a spill event to its conclusion.” They say, “A primary purpose of the GRP is to put strategies in place during the early hours of a spill so impact to known sensitive natural, cultural, and economic resources at risk can be minimized.”
The plan details contain site-specific spill response measures like oil-containment booming and notification strategies. It also establishes priorities based on potential spill locations and the proximity of sensitive resources.
The Grays Harbor Geographic Response Plan is one of 19 such plans in the state. It covers shoreline and nearshore areas of Grays Harbor from Cosmopolis to the Pacific Coast (Grayland to Copalis Beach).
The current Grays Harbor GRP was published in March 2003. Work to update the plan began in August 2009. The updated draft version of the plan is significantly more detailed, and nearly six times larger than the existing plan. All parts of the existing plan were reviewed and updated, with two dozen response strategies added.
The plan was developed with input from citizens, resource managers, spill response contractors, industry representatives, and local officials.
The GRP is part of the larger Northwest Area Contingency Plan.