Environmental Protection

Ecology Increases Spill Damages Range

The Washington Department of Ecology has adopted a new rule updating the state's mathematical formulas for calculating the dollar value of oil spill-related damages to state natural resources.

Under the new rule, which goes into effect April 10, the compensation range will be increased from $1 to $100 per gallon of oil spilled. The old compensation range, adopted in 1992, was $1 to $50 per gallon of oil spilled. The new rule is consistent with state law adopted by the 2007 Legislature.

In Washington, individuals and companies responsible for spilling oil to marine waters, rivers, streams, wetlands, ponds and lakes, groundwater, storm drains, ditches, and other state waters are liable for damages to natural resources.

Compensation for natural resource damage is separate from penalties for oil spills and from reimbursement to the state for its response and clean-up costs.

Monetary damages collected through the natural resource compensation schedule are deposited into a special state account that is primarily used to fund habitat restoration and enhancement activities in areas affected by oil spills.

Ecology works in partnership with the state departments of Fish and Wildlife, Health, Natural Resources, Archeology and Historical Preservation, and Washington Parks and Recreation Commission to calculate the monetary value of natural resources injured by a spill.

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