Tribal Response Program - Marine Oil Spill Preparedness
The Swinomish Reservation is located on the eastern half of Fidalgo Island. Bordered by the Skagit, Padilla, and Similk Bays, as well as the highly trafficked Swinomish Channel, the Reservation comprises more than 29 miles of shoreline, 3,000 acres of intertidal area, more than 300 acres of high quality salt marshes, and numerous ecologically important pocket estuaries.
Multiple local sources pose potential oil spill hazards that could significantly impact the Reservation, including:
- Two large petroleum refineries located at March Point to the north end of the Reservation
- A BNSF railroad passes through Reservation
- Three major petroleum pipelines cross the Reservation
- Refinery activities including tanker vessel traffic and the unloading of crude oil and loading of finished products
- Large amounts of commercial and recreational marine vessel traffic
The Tribe is developing its in-house capacity to respond to potential marine oil spills to protect vital habitat as well as the natural and cultural resources found on the Reservation. This need was underscored during a recent marina fire on the Reservation at Shelter Bay. With support from a Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife grant, the Tribe drafted a standard operating procedure to respond to oil spills, and actively recruits and trains volunteer responders in this effort. Volunteers are recruited from the local community and include both tribal and non-tribal members living within response distance of the Reservation. During 2014 and 2015, volunteers received training through a five-session class, culminating with an eight-hour Hazwoper class and field drill. Volunteer training is an ongoing and annual event that will help the Tribe maintain a robust oil spill response agency.