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Spill Response Program

Spill Responder Team

The SPU Spill Responder team at a training exercise.
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If you see a spill involving a fire or explosion or extremely dangerous substance, call 911 immediately.

Report spills by calling SPU at (206) 386-1800.

Seattle Public Utilities staffs a team of responders who are on standby 24/7 to respond to spills. The goal of the spill response program is to divert, mitigate or clean up immediate or imminent threats to the drainage system and the environment by using in house and contractor resources. Spill responders receive in-depth training on hazardous materials and spill response and conduct regular training exercises.

What is spill?

A spill is an active discharge where there is an imminent threat to human health, the environment or the drainage system. Spills may include such events as a ruptured drum or tank, a vehicle accident that has resulted in a loss of automotive fluids or a significant sheen on the water.

See a slideshow of some recent spill events.

What if I cause a spill?

  1. Report it. The Seattle Stormwater Code requires that the person responsible report a spill, release, dumping or other situation that contributed or is likely to contribute pollutants to a drainage system or water body, at the earliest possible time, but in any case within 24 hours of discovery. This reporting requirement is in addition to, and not instead of, any reporting requirements under federal, state or local laws. In the State of Washington, there are mandatory reporting requirements for spills. Please visit the Department of Ecology reporting page for more information on mandatory reporting requirements.
  2. Provide details - when reporting a spill, provide information including:
    • the material that has spilled
    • the estimated volume of material that spilled
    • contact information (name and phone number)
    • an exact address or cross streets
    • an initial assessment of the situation (have any drains been impacted, etc)
    • what time it happened or when you first observed the spill
  3. Employ your spill plan. Don’t have one? If you are a business, chances are you are required by the Seattle Stormwater Code to have a spill plan and a spill kit on hand to deal with the types and volumes of materials you store on site. Learn more about the Stormwater Code requirements. If you are a Seattle business, you may qualify for a free spill kit and assistance in developing a spill plan. Visit theGreen Business Program (an SPU funded program) for more information.

Use this training video to learn more about how to clean up a spill.

Most spills are preventable. But if the unexpected occurs, it’s important to act fast and take action to prevent damage to the environment and to the drainage system and your property. Responsible parties may be subject to SPU’s enforcement program if proper action is not taken to prevent or control a spill.

The Spill Response Program is part of the City’s overall Stormwater Management Plan, developed to comply with the requirements of the City’s National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit issued by the Washington State Department of Ecology. Requirements regarding spill prevention and control are provided and enforced under the City’s Stormwater Code, Chapter 22.800 – 22.808 and associated Director’s Rules.

Remember, only rain down the drain!