Because of the danger of spills, the legislature finds that the transportation of
crude oil and refined petroleum products by tankers on the Columbia river and on Puget
Sound and adjacent waters creates a great potential hazard to important natural resources
of the state and to jobs and incomes dependent on these resources.
The legislature recognizes that the Columbia river has many natural obstacles to navigation
and shifting navigation channels that create the risk of an oil spill. The legislature also recognizes Puget Sound and adjacent waters are a relatively confined
saltwater environment with irregular shorelines and therefore there is a greater than
usual likelihood of long-term damage from any large oil spill.
The legislature further recognizes that certain areas of the Columbia river and Puget
Sound and adjacent waters have limited space for maneuvering a large oil tanker and
that these waters contain many natural navigational obstacles as well as a high density
of commercial and pleasure boat traffic.
For these reasons, it is important that large oil tankers be piloted by highly skilled
persons who are familiar with local waters and that such tankers have sufficient capability
for rapid maneuvering responses.
It is therefore the intent and purpose of RCW 88.16.180 and 88.16.190 to decrease the likelihood of oil spills on the Columbia river and on Puget Sound
and its shorelines by requiring all oil tankers above a certain size to employ licensed
pilots and to be escorted by a tug or tugs while navigating on certain areas of Puget
Sound and adjacent waters.
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