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The Washington Department of Ecology last week approved BNSF Railway Co.'s response plan in the event of a crude-oil spill. The action marks the first railroad oil-spill plan approved in the state, according to a department press release.BNSF, the largest freight railroad operating in Washington, owns 1,332 track miles in the state and delivers oil to refineries in Cherry Point and Ferndale, truck racks in Seattle and Spokane, and terminals in Anacortes and Pasco.With the approved plan, BNSF meets the department's more protective requirements."Oil by rail has expanded significantly in recent years, and it's imperative railroad companies are prepared to work with the state to respond to a spill in a rapid, aggressive, and well-coordinated manner," said Dale Jensen, the department's spills prevention program manager.Under the 2015 Oil Transportation Safety Act, the department now requires rail lines to have contingency plans that guarantee they can respond to a spill quickly and effectively. It is the same requirement the state has for vessels, pipelines and oil facilities.In 2017, 2 billion gallons of crude oil moved through the state, with railroads accounting for about 25 percent.Washington and California are the only West Coast states to require oil spill contingency plans for railroad operators.
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