Public concerned plan doesn’t include specific responses for heavy oil like tar sands or highly flammable petrochemicals like xylenes
Thursday November 15, 2018
ANACORTES, WA — The Washington State Department of Ecology received more than 2,700 comments on the oil spill response plan for the Anacortes Refinery owned by Marathon Petroleum (previously Andeavor and Tesoro) during a public comment period that ends today, Thursday, November 15, 2018.
Residents of Skagit, San Juan and Whatcom counties expressed concerns that the plan is inadequate for heavy oil like tar sands that may sink in water, that the plan does not include specific response scenarios for spills of highly flammable petrochemicals like xylenes, and that the plan does not do enough to protect the endangered Southern Resident orcas from the risk of a spill.
The Anacortes Refinery was required to submit a new oil spill response plan to the state because of a change in ownership in August 2017, when Tesoro acquired Western Refining and renamed itself Andeavor. The refinery ownership changed hands again in October 2018 when Marathon Petroleum acquired Andeavor.
Environmental organizations working to gather public comments on the Anacortes Refinery’s oil spill response plan include Stand.earth, the Stand Up to Oil coalition, and Friends of the San Juans.
“The new owners of this refinery, Marathon Petroleum, are attempting to bring increasing levels of new and dangerous petrochemicals and heavy oil like tar sands through our waterways and communities and along our shores — without a sufficient plan for what to do when there is an accident. We’re asking Ecology to hold Marathon Petroleum accountable,” said Alex Ramel, Field Director with the Extreme Oil Campaign at Stand.earth.
“With our state’s focus on Southern Resident Killer Whale protection and recovery, the oil spill response plans at our state's refineries must at the very least comply with state law. Marathon Petroleum’s plan does not,” said Stephanie Buffum, Executive Director of Friends of the San Juans.
“This plan is out of step with the types of protections needed to prevent and respond to a spill. We must ensure that all precautions are used to ensure that the people and waterways of our region are protected from the evolving landscape of petrochemicals and heavy sinking oils,” said Rebecca Ponzio with Stand Up to Oil.
In September 2018, Ecology directed the owners of the Puget Sound Pipeline to fix deficiencies in a similar spill response plan, including how it would respond to a spill of heavy oil like tar sands that may sink in water, and to provide more details about how it would protect the endangered Southern Resident orcas and other natural resources that could be harmed from a spill. The Puget Sound Pipeline is a segment of the Trans Mountain Pipeline that was recently bought by the federal government of Canada from Texas-based Kinder Morgan. It crosses the US-Canada border near Sumas, WA and feeds refineries in Whatcom and Skagit counties, including the Anacortes Refinery now owned by Marathon Petroleum.