Oil Spill Prevention, Preparedness, and Response

Oil Spill Prevention, Preparedness, and Response

Oil spill prevention, preparedness, and response within Snohomish County has been an ongoing focus of the MRC, which created an Oil Spill Subcommittee to explore gaps in oil spill preparedness in Snohomish County and determine where the expertise of MRC Members would be beneficial.


The Oil Spill Subcommittee pursues the implementation of projects that have the greatest impact on Snohomish County's oil spill preparedness. Examples of past projects which have assisted in accomplishing this goal include: 

  • Observing a tabletop exercise and working to build relationships and networks between marine experts and spill responders.
  • Joining the Northwest Area Contingency Plan (NWACP) task force.
  • Preparing comments for the Geographic Response Plan revisions that cover Snohomish County.
  • Registering commercial fishing vessels into the Department of Ecology Vessel of Opportunity Program.


The Snohomish County MRC held an oil spill prevention, preparedness, and response meeting on November 18, 2015. Representatives from Snohomish County Department of Emergency Management (DEM), Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF), and Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) presented information on oil spill management relative to their expertise. The meeting aimed to bring the key players of Snohomish County together on current and future oil spill preparation and planning.

The MRC continues to collaborate with Snohomish County DEM to examine ways to collaborate the response plan in the event of an oil spill. Additionally, the MRC participates in quarterly meetings for the Local Emergency Planning Committee, regularly comments on local Geographic Response Plans, and coordinates with Snohomish County Beach Watchers on volunteer coordination related to oil spills. 

Vessel of Opportunity Program

The Washington State Department of Ecology's Vessel of Opportunity (VOO) Program is a way for vessel owners and operators to provide support to the spill response in the event of an oil spill. Volunteer vessel owners help supplement the system of professional spill responders already in place throughout the state. The expertise, skills, and equipment provided by VOO volunteers may play a crucial role in oil spill response. 

The MRC is working to increase participation in Snohomish County in the State's Vessel of Opportunity Program (VOO). As a larger effort to strengthen county oil spill response, the MRC has prepared a letter to highlight the program, which is distributed along with VOO informational pamphlets to local commercial fishermen. 

Click here to register or find out more about the VOO program.

2011 Oil Spill Preparedness Report

In 2011, Snohomish County Surface Water Management, in partnership with the MRC, sponsored a University of Washington Environmental Management Certificate Program Keystone Project to prepare an Oil Spill Preparedness Report for Snohomish county. The student team and their faculty advisor began work in the fall of 2010 to assess the County’s current marine oil spill preparedness and response plans and measures. The team researched potential threats for oil spills in Snohomish County and developed recommendations for proactive pre-spill measures that can be undertaken by Snohomish County to reduce the impact of spills on the marine environment. These recommendations were evaluated in terms of effectiveness and capacity.

The team presented their findings at the March 16, 2011 MRC Meeting. The team did an excellent job of researching and synthesizing information about Snohomish County and its role in oil spill prevention and response! The project team's full report can be viewed here

Since the completion of this report, the MRC has continued to engage with local stakeholders, agencies, and technical experts to improve collaboration and efficacy in Puget Sound oil spill prevention, preparedness, and response.

  • Student Team Members: Sara Booth, Tom Carter, Andrea Kunz, and Vivien Savath
  • Faculty Advisor: Dr. Robert Pavia
  • Project Sponsor: Kathleen Pozarycki, Snohomish County MRC Staff
Oil Spill Prevention, Preparedness, and Response