Lummi Nation – Oil spill preparedness

The Lummi Nation is a leader in oil response preparedness, having actively developed spill response capabilities since the mid 1990s.

GAP funding has been an integral part of these efforts to ensure protection of tribal cultural and natural resources during large spill events and to provide assistance to tribal members for smaller spills. The Lummi Nation Natural Resources Department wrote a Spill Prevention and Response Plan, compiled a spill response handbook, researched and purchased response equipment, and has conducted many trainings and drills.

Continuing efforts include staff training and drills, equipment upgrades, planning, research and public outreach. These efforts contribute to the Lummi Nation goals of protecting the public health and safety of reservation residents and protecting treaty rights to fish and gather throughout all usual and accustomed areas. These activities also contribute to achieving the EPA strategic goals of clean and safe water and healthy communities and ecosystems.

The Lummi Water Resources Division worked with EPA, the U.S. Coast Guard and local industry (BP Cherry Point) to provide a tuition-free Tribal 24-Hour Hazardous Material and Oil Spill Awareness Course to 42 tribal staff members from 14 different Indian tribal governments in September 2014.

Also in 2014, Lummi Natural Resources staff both presented and participated in several other tabletop and deployment exercises, and workshops. Staff responded to three reported spills on the reservation and in the harbor.

“To date, there has not been a large hazardous material spill on the reservation that has impacted Lummi Nation waters,” said Jeremy Freimund, Lummi water resources manager. “However, future residential and economic growth on the reservation, in the adjacent Cherry Point Heavy Impact Industrial Zone, and in areas upstream from the reservation will increase the risk of a hazardous material emergency.”

The Lummi Indian Reservation is located in northwest Washington at the mouth of the Nooksack River and along the western border of Whatcom County. It includes approximately 12,500 upland acres, 7,000 acres of tidelands and 38 miles of marine shoreline. The reservation waters and the usual and accustomed fishing grounds and stations of the Lummi Nation contain economically and culturally significant resources including salmon, Dungeness crab, herring, oysters and clams.

The likelihood of contamination from oil and hazardous substances is high because of the close proximity of many industrial facilities. Additionally, three pipelines carrying natural gas, gasoline and crude oil run just north of the northern reservation boundary.