At approximately 11:30 p.m. on Friday November 15th, a release of crude oil from a Crowley Maritime Corporation barge while docked at the Shell Puget Sound Refinery was discovered. Operations were immediately halted, the source of the barge leak was contained and response activities commenced.
The following entities have collectively formed a Unified Command to launch a safe, aggressive and well-coordinated response by activating resources in their respective response plans:
- WA State Department of Ecology (DOE) as State On-Scene Coordinator, United States Coast Guard (USCG) as Federal On-Scene Coordinator, the Lummi Nation as Tribal On-Scene Coordinator, Washington State Maritime Cooperative (WSMC) as Responsible Party Incident Commander and Shell in a support role.
The Unified Command’s primary objectives are to ensure the safety and health of responders and the community, protect the environment, and to minimize any further impacts as a result of the incident. The cause of the incident is under investigation and all appropriate agencies have been notified.
Initial estimations are that approximately 20 gallons of crude oil spilled from the vessel onto the barge deck, with approximately 5 gallons reaching water.
A Joint Information Center (JIC) has been established to provide information regarding the response and further information will be released as it becomes available. Updates will be posted on the Unified Command website: www.barge650-2crudeoilspill2019.com.
Inquiries should be directed to the Joint Information Center at 360-299-4602.
Background on the refinery from Shell's Website:
Located on March Point near Anacortes, WA, the refinery – which initially was owned by Texaco – went on stream in September 1958, processing up to 45,000 barrels of crude oil per day. A half-century later, Texaco and Shell merged their refining and marketing operations in the Western U.S., including the Puget Sound plant. When Chevron acquired Texaco in 2001, Texaco sold its interest in the refinery to Shell.
The plant has an average annual processing rate of approximately 145,000 barrels (5.7 million gallons) of crude oil per day. When the refinery first began operating, most of its crude oil came from Canada via pipeline. Although it continues to receive crude from central and western Canada, feedstock also arrives by tanker from oilfields on Alaska's North Slope.
On an annual basis, the refinery produces multiple types of gasoline in addition to fuel oil, diesel fuel, propane, jet fuel, butane and petroleum coke. It also produces two chemicals – nonene and tetramer – that are used in a variety of plastic products.
The refinery is the single largest taxpayer in Skagit County, and it’s also one of the area's largest employers. Shell supports roughly $75 million in salaries and wages per year for approximately 500 employees. It also supports about $250 million in third-party spend per year, supporting local companies, contracted employees and their families. According to a recent Western Washington University study, Shell and its neighboring refinery account directly for roughly 2% of the total employment in Skagit County, but they support 10%-14% of all jobs in the county.