Oil spill prevention

Introduction

At UW Seattle, large oil spills and even small oil spills near a storm drain might quickly reach Lake Washington or Lake Union. If oil spills reach water and create an oil "sheen", they must be reported to EH&S as soon as possible. EH&S is required to report sheens to federal authorities.

This webpage contains a general spill plan for those people that store fuels or oil (animal, plant or mineral). This plan applies to all types of oil, including vegetable oil. It especially focuses on containers of oil that are 55 gallons or greater. If you store any type of oil in containers 55 gallons or greater, even temporarily, please read and comply with the following requirements.


Requirements for storage and spill kits

If you store oil in containers that are 55 gallons and greater, even if only temporarily, you must have the following:

  • a secure location for the container, preferably indoors
  • secondary containment large enough to contain the spill but that does not collect rainwater
  • an appropriate spill kit, including storm drain covers if applicable
  • a spill response protocol (see below)
  • proper training to use the spill kit

In addition, the oil container must have a closed lid, be in good condition and not leaking.


General oil spill protocols

These general spill response protocols are starting points for your own spill protocols. You should include in your own response protocols information about spill kit location and contents, the location of any nearby storm drains, and local personnel contacts.


Incidental oil spill protocol

An incidental spill is a minor spill that can be contained with materials and personnel on hand, with very low risk of drainage to a storm drain system or soil. Procedures to follow in response to an incidental spill are as follows:

  1. Stop the spill source.
  2. Shut off any ignition sources.
  3. Initiate containment and cleanup, concentrating on avoiding any storm drains nearby.
  4. If you have questions or need more materials, call UW EH&S at 206.543.0467 during office hours.
  5. Package the waste in a 5 gallon bucket or other secure packaging. Label the waste generated from the cleanup with an EH&S hazardous waste label.
  6. Fax or mail in a Chemical Collection Request from the EH&S website so that we can collect your materials.

Minor oil spill protocol

A minor spill is a spill large enough that it will likely flow to local curbed areas (with storm drain inlets) or soil. An outside contractor will typically be needed to clean up the large spill and contaminated areas. Therefore EH&S must be contacted as an intermediary and to help with spill assessment and response. However, no oil will reach nearby waterways, so the spill does not require notification of the National Response Center and other water quality authorities. Procedures to follow in response to a minor spill are as follows:

  1. Stop the spill source.
  2. Shut off any ignition sources.
  3. Use oil containment equipment (e.g. plywood, sand bags, drain plugs and tape) to prevent spill from running into storm and sewer drains or into soil.
  4. Use oil absorbing equipment to absorb the spill on the surface as much as possible.
  5. Contact UW EH&S at 206.543.0467 during office hours or at 9-911 after hours (via Campus Police.)
  6. Contact other personnel as appropriate.
  7. Stand by to help with spill assessment and cleanup.

Major oil spill protocol

A major spill has some risk of reaching navigable waters via storm drains or overland flow. It requires fast response from an outside contractor for containment and cleanup, as well as notification of the National Response Center and other water quality authorities.

Note that a spill small in volume can qualify as a "major" spill. For example, a spill of two gallons of oil at the Marine Sciences Building loading dock might drain directly to water; if there is any real risk of it doing so, it qualifies as a "major" spill. The National Response Center must be notified (by EH&S) if there is any visible oil sheen on the water. Procedures to follow in response to a major spill are as follows:

  1. Stop the spill source.
  2. Shut off any ignition sources.
  3. Contact UW EH&S at 206.543.0467 during office hours or at 911 after hours (via Campus Police) as soon as you think that the spill might reach navigable waters.
  4. Contact other personnel as appropriate.
  5. Use oil containment equipment (e.g. plywood, sand bags, drain plugs and tape) to prevent spill from running into storm and sewer drains or into soil.
  6. Use oil absorbing equipment to absorb the spill on the surface as much as possible.
  7. Stand by to help with spill assessment, cleanup, and notification of authorities (or if it is a spill that is small in volume, refer to your incidental spill response protocol.)