Oil Spill Prevention

Oil Spill Prevention

Protection against a major and catastrophic oil spill is the highest environmental priority for San Juan County.

San Juan County lies in the middle of the Salish Sea surrounded on all sides by major shipping lanes. 

 This risk of a major oil spill is of huge concern to the County. It was identified as highest ranking threat to marine biodiversity in the 2007 Marine Stewardship Area Plan and was again identified as a top threat at the 2020 Marine Managers Workshop. 

The MRC works closely with the County and local non-profit organizations to further efforts towards oil spill prevention. 


In 2016, the San Juan MRC submitted a Near Term Action proposal for a comprehensive Oil Spill Risk Consequences Assessment. In early 2018 the San Juan Local Integrating Organization (LIO) selected the Near Term Action proposal for locally-directed $100,000 funding. San Juan County, on behalf of the MRC contracted with economic consultants to perform an Oil Spills Consequences Assessment for San Juan County (Earth Economics) and to evaluate the cost of an emergency response towing vessel (ERTV, Northern Economics). 

The San Juan Ecosystem Protection and Recovery Plan identifies investment in an ERTV to reduce the risk of a spill at Boundary Pass/Haro Strait on the north and west sides of San Juan County as a priority risk mitigation measure. Such actions have also been recommended by the Governor's Southern Resident Orca Task Force, the Department of Ecology's 2016 Salish Sea Workshop, and Puget Sound Partnership Ecosystem Coordination Board and Leadership Council. 

Click here to learn more about these studies and their findings


What You Can Do

San Juan County and the MRC encourages those with environmental, economic, social, and cultural interests in the region to engage in the legislative process and related initiatives including the Southern Resident Orca Task Force. Engagement may increase public and political will and inform decisions that protect the San Juan Islands and regional ecosystems, communities, and businesses from the consequences of a large oil spill. 

Rainbow over the San Juan Islands, Phil Green, MRC member

For more information on this work please contact Marta Green, Puget Sound Recovery Coordinator for San Juan County at martag@sanjuanco.com

Oil Spill Prevention