Task force formed after Grays Harbor oil spill meeting this month

A task force formed after the 1988 Grays Harbor oil spill will hold their annual meeting this month.

Representatives from states and provinces on the Pacific Ocean will gather this year to discuss how best to protect the West Coast from oil spills.

In a release from the Pacific States/British Columbia Oil Spill Task Force, they say that an update on spill-response programs and initiatives will highlight the event.

The task force will feature representatives from Washington, Oregon, California, Hawaii, and  British Columbia and was formed following the 1988 oil spill in Grays Harbor as well as the Exxon Valdez spill.

The December 23, 1988 Nestucca barge oil spill at the entrance to Grays Harbor saw 231,000 gallons of oil enter local waterways. The resulting oil slick covered over 800 square miles from Grays Harbor north to British Columbia and south to Oregon.

According to the Department of Interior, shorelines were oiled within Grays Harbor and along 110 miles of the Washington State coast north of Grays Harbor and into the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Oil washed ashore on portions of Oregon State and Vancouver Island, British Columbia coasts. More than 13,000 oiled seabirds were collected by wildlife rescue and rehabilitation operations conducted during the spill. Estimates of actual migratory bird mortality from the spill ranged from 4 to 6 times greater than that collected.

Discussion on June 21 will address protections using “emerging technology” including high-speed oil skimmers, aerial surveillance, and oil-containment and recovery capability.

“The oil-train derailment in Mosier, Oregon earlier this month is a reminder of how vulnerable our region is to spills,” said Dale Jensen, Ecology’s Spills program manager. “It’s more important than ever that we come together to share knowledge and improve coordination so we can keep our region protected from future oil spills.”


The Task Force members include:
Thomas M. Cullen Jr., Administrator, Office of Spill Prevention and Response, California Department of Fish and Wildlife
Keith Kawaoka, Deputy Director, Hawaii Department of Health
Larry Hartig, Commissioner, Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation
Dale Jensen, Spills Program Manager, Washington Department of Ecology
Bruce Gilles, Manager, Oregon Department of Environmental Quality
Wes Shoemaker, Deputy Minister, British Columbia Ministry of the Environment


More information and registration for the discussion is available at the event website.


Photo by Leo Pare 



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