Governor Inslee issues directive to increase oil safety, spill prevention and response efforts
This week, Genesee and Wyoming, the owners of the Puget Sound and Pacific Railroad that runs through Grays Harbor, put the blame onto the former owner of the rail lines for recent derailments.
PSAP was purchased a year and a half ago by Genesee & Wyoming. Since then, it has been upgraded with $4.3 million in track investments, including 17,500 railroad ties and 25 miles of track resurfacing. While these improvements are ongoing, GW president Joel Haka has said that conditions left by RailAmerica require much more improvements.
He told KXRO after the most recent derailment that a full investigation of the railway was underway and will be ongoing.
Improvements to the local lines have been included into projects related to crude by rail, saying that local lines would need to be upgraded to handle the additional traffic.
In response to rapid changes in how crude oil is shipped through the Pacific Northwest, Gov. Jay Inslee issued a directive to state agencies to increase the state’s oil spill prevention and response efforts.
“In any discussion about increased movement of crude oil through Washington, the safety of Washingtonians is without question my top concern,” Inslee said. “I want to know how much oil will be shipped through my state and how we can be assured the kind of tragedy that happened in Quebec won’t devastate families in our communities. The federal government plays a significant role in regulating these trains, but we as a state can and will do more to make sure we’re protecting our cities and residents.”
Since 2008, rail shipments of crude oil have increased more than 40-fold nationwide, and major accidents have occurred over the past year in both the United States and Canada.
“The people of Washington are rightfully demanding answers about how their safety will be protected as more oil trains roll through their city or town,” Inslee said. “This directive is about gathering the information we need to effectively protect the health and safety of our people and our environment.”
Ecology will submit its findings by October 1 along with budget recommendations for funding improved safety and spill response needs related to transport of oil by rail.