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Spill kit incentive program expands to help more businesses prevent pollution

TACOMA — A Seattle program that prevents pollution by giving businesses the tools they need to respond to small spills or leaks of grease, oil and other chemicals will expand into new areas of King, Kitsap, Pierce and Snohomish counties thanks to a grant awarded by the Puget Sound Partnership’s Stewardship Program.

“We are investing in the expansion of the ECOSS spill kit incentive program because we consider it to be a model program that has delivered proven results in a cost-effective way,” said Marc Daily, the Partnership’s interim executive director. “Being able to quickly and effectively clean up these types of spills helps businesses keep pollutants out of Puget Sound.”

ECOSS, an environmental nonprofit, works with business owners to provide spill kits, spill plans, onsite signage and storm drain maps to help keep toxic materials out of area waterways. The organization also provides services in multiple languages to assist those managers and staff who speak limited English. Specialists also train businesses so they know when and how to contact state and federal environmental response and cleanup agencies such as the Washington Department of Ecology, U.S. Coast Guard and the Environmental Protection Agency.

By providing the means to respond to spills effectively, business owners and their employees can prevent pollution, avoid costly cleanups and protect Puget Sound.

Based on available survey data, approximately 50 percent of targeted businesses are likely to have an oil spill or chemical leak on site at some point that requires cleanup – which can be costly. For example, if half the 2,500 businesses that will be targeted by this program can handle spills themselves they could save several thousand dollars per incident on average, totaling more than $3.4 million in cleanup costs.

ECOSS and Seattle Public Utilities developed the spill kit incentive program in 2004 as a way to reach small businesses that may not have the resources or know-how to adopt best environmental practices on their own.

“Our program has been successful because businesses trust us, and we know what they need,” said Kevin Burrell, ECOSS’ executive director. “This grant is seed funding to develop an on-going program through public/private partnerships where more cities can have on-the-ground support with ECOSS’ help.”

The Partnership is investing approximately $281,000 in federal EPA funds during the next two years, with a 50 percent match from ECOSS.

Preventing pollution from urban surface water runoff is one of three strategic initiatives outlined in the Puget Sound Partnership’s 2012-13 Action Agenda. When spills are not cleaned up, chemicals and debris can get washed into storm drains that flow directly – untreated – into local waterways.

 

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