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RULES FOR ASSESSING DAMAGES FROM OIL SPILLS PROPOSED BY THE WASHINGTON STATE DEPARTMENT OF ECOLOGY

 RULES FOR ASSESSING DAMAGES FROM OIL SPILLS PROPOSED
 BY THE WASHINGTON STATE DEPARTMENT OF ECOLOGY
 OLYMPIA, Wash., Nov. 26 /PRNewswire/ -- Proposed Washington State Department of Ecology regulations that will greatly improve the process for assessing environmental damages from oil spills will be the subject of public hearings in December, the department said today.
 The regulations, which provide an alternative approach to traditional field studies, require spillers to pay a damage assessment based on a $1 to $50 per gallon charge.
 "Although spillers have been liable for environmental damages under state law for many years, assessing those impacts has evolved into a very long and expensive process," said Steve Hunter, Ecology assistant director. "The cost of conducting these natural resource damage assessment studies frequently exceeded the actual value of the lost or damaged resources."
 The proposed regulations calculate natural resource damages based on the amount of oil spilled, toxicity, various environmental sensitivity factors and actions taken by the spiller. As oil becomes more toxic and environmental sensitivity increases, the dollar per gallon assessment also increases.
 Hunter said the resource damage "compensation table" will be used by the Resource Damage Assessment Committee, comprised of state, federal, tribal and other natural resource "trustees."
 Under the regulations, the table must be used if:
 - Restoring or enhancing the damaged natural resources is not technically feasible;
 - Resource damages are not quantifiable at a reasonable cost; and
 - Restoration and enhancement projects or studies proposed by the spiller are insufficient to compensate the state.
 Damages collected through the table will be deposited into the Coastal Protection Fund. The Resource Damage Assessment Committee then decides how monies in the fund will be spent for restoration and enhancement activities.
 Public hearings on the proposed regulations will be held:
 Bellingham Tuesday, Dec. 10, 6:30 p.m.
 City Council Chambers
 210 Lottie Street
 Seattle Thursday, Dec. 12, 6:30 p.m.
 National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration
 Building 9, Conference Rooms A and B
 7600 Sandpoint Way NE
 Pasco Monday, Dec. 16, 6:30 p.m.
 Public Utility District Auditorium
 1411 W. Clark, No. 125
 Port Angeles Wednesday, Dec. 18, 6:30 p.m.
 City Council Chambers
 321 East Fifth
 Vancouver Thursday, Dec. 19, 6:30 p.m.
 Clark County Public Utility District
 Community Room
 1200 Fort Vancouver Way
 Written comments on the proposed regulations can be submitted by Dec. 31 to Laura Geselbracht, Department of Ecology, P.O. Box 47600, Mail Stop PV-11, Olympia, WA 98504-7600.
 -0- 11/26/91
 /CONTACT: Dick Logan, Resource Damage Coordinator, 206-459-6840; or Ron Holcomb, Information Officer, 206-459-6149, both of the Washington State Department of Ecology/ CO: Department of Ecology ST: Washington IN: OIL SU:


LM-SF -- SE003 -- 7277 11/26/91 12:13 EST
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Nov 26, 1991
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