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Acccess Washington

ESHB 1578 will require in Rosario Strait and connected waterways east, as of September 1, 2020, tug escorts on laden oil tankers between 5,000 and 40,000 deadweight tons, and on both laden Articulated Tug Barges (ATBs) and towed waterborne vessels or barges that are 1) designed to transport oil in bulk internal to the hull, and 2) greater than 5,000 deadweight tons. More information about this requirement will be provided in the coming weeks.

​ESHB 1578 also gave the BPC authority to partner with the Department of Ecology to conduct future rulemaking regarding tug escorts in the Puget Sound Pilotage District. Deliverables include:

  • By 9/1/2020, identify and define zones to inform modeling analysis.
  • By 12/31/2021, complete a synopsis of changing vessel traffic trends.
  • ​By 9/1/2023, consult with potentially affected federally recognized Indian treaty fishing tribes, other federally recognized treaty tribes with potentially affected interests, United State Coast Guard, Puget Sound Harbor Safety Committee, ports, local governments, state agencies, and other appropriate entities and complete analysis of tug escorts using the model developed by the Department of Ecology. 
  • By 12/31/2025, adopt rules regarding tug escorts to address the peculiarities of Puget Sound for:
    • ​Oil tankers between 5,000 and 40,000 deadweight tons; and
    • ATBs and towed waterborne vessels or bargers greater than 5,000 deadweight tons
  • By 10/1/2028, and no less than every 10 years after, consider:
    • ​Effects of the rules
    • ​Whether experiences or forecasted changes to traffic or risk necessitate a change

BPC will enter into an interagency agreement with the Department of Ecology for assistance with rulemaking activities.


December 9, 2019 - ESHB 1578 Rosario Tug Escort Implementation & Geographic Zone Identification Listening Sessions
Location: Port of Everett, Blue Heron Room B, 1205 Craftsman Way, Everett, WA
Time: 10:00am - 12:00pm: Rosario Tug Escort Implementation Listening Session
             1:00pm - 3:00pm: Geographic Zones Listening Session

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Chapter 88.16 RCW, Pilotage Act

The 2019 Legislature enacted new safety requirements to close the safety gap further on the acute risk of a potentially large oil spill in the Salish Sea from tank vessels by passing Engrossed Substitute House Bill 1578 Reducing threats to southern resident killer whales by improving the safety of oil transportation.