16-075 Corps of Engineers hosts multi-agency oil spill response exercise at Ice Harbor Dam

Published Oct. 7, 2016

BURBANK, Wash. – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Ice Harbor Lock and Dam hosted a multi-agency, environmental response drill on Thursday, Oct. 6. In the tabletop exercise, the Corps’ Walla Walla District worked with other agencies to respond to a simulated railroad oil spill just upstream of the dam.

The Corps improves its response to spills by participating in ongoing multi-agency exercises and communication. This exercise followed a Washington State Department of Ecology (Ecology) Geographical Response Plan (GRP) update. Ecology recently revised the plan for the Ice Harbor area. The Corps’ mission during a spill is to protect the environment including downstream communities, parks, marinas and fish passage facilities.

The exercise scenario was to respond to a simulated 30,000-gallon crude oil spill after a train derailment on the railroad tracks on the south shore of the lower Snake River near Charbonneau Park, about a mile upstream of Ice Harbor Dam. In the exercise scenario, some oil reached the lower Snake River. While working together with other agencies during a spill response, the Corps typically deploys in-river booms and oil absorption and recovery devices in the water to protect facilities and the environment.

Other agencies participating in the Ice Harbor exercise included the Union Pacific Railroad, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Washington Department of Ecology, adjacent counties’ emergency management officials, and spill response contractors.

The Corps reports and responds to observed oil spills at any of its dams in Washington state, regardless of spill sources, to the National Response Center and Washington Department of Emergency Management.

The Corps is part of the Region 10 Regional Response Team (RRT), which serves Washington, Oregon and Idaho. The Region 10 RRT is a regional version of the National Response Team (NRT). The RRT is mandated by the National Contingency Plan, as is the Northwest Area Committee (NWAC). More information about the Region 10 RRT and Northwest Area Committee is at http://www.rrt10nwac.com/.

More information about Washington Department of Ecology’s Spills Program is available at http://www.ecy.wa.gov/programs/spills/index.html. Information about Ecology’s Geographical Response Plans is available at http://www.ecy.wa.gov/programs/spills/preparedness/GRP/index.html. Information about the Corps’ Walla Walla District is available on the District website at www.nww.usace.army.mil.


Public Affairs Office

Release no. 16-075