OWNERS OBEYING SPILL LAW, WASH. SAFETY OFFICIAL SAYS

OWNERS OBEYING SPILL LAW, WASH. SAFETY OFFICIAL SAYS

Companies operating oil tankers that enter Washington state waters are complying so far with a new state law that requires them to file oil spill cleanup plans with the state, the state's Office of Marine Safety said.

The Coast Guard and the state clashed two weeks ago over the new state law, which allows the state to impose fines of $100,000 a day against tanker companies that fail to file a state cleanup plan, in addition to required federal cleanup plans.Adm. J. William Kime, Coast Guard commandant, had warned that the state law could prompt some tankers inbound for the Port of Vancouver, British Columbia, to cross into outbound traffic lanes to stay out of Washington state waters.

But Nick Handy, deputy administrator for the Washington state Office of Marine Safety, said that as of this week, there has been no evidence that is taking place. Tanker companies are complying with the law, he said.

Most tanker operators already have oil spill plans covering an entire fleet or individual ships on file with the state, he said. Extensions of time to file plans were granted to four companies that demonstrated they are working on oil spill cleanup plans, he said.

In addition, the state granted waivers allowing three oil tankers to pass through its waters without plans, he said. In each case, the tanker involved had been headed for another port but was diverted to a terminal in Washington state on short notice, Mr. Handy said.

"There has not been any change in our position that we are entitled to enforce a state law stricter than federal regulations," Mr. Handy said. ''Gov. (Mike) Lowry has discussed this directly with Adm. Kime."

Jack O'Dell, a spokesman at Coast Guard headquarters in Washington, D.C., confirmed that top officers are engaged in talks with Canadian federal authorities in an effort to work out new safety arrangements that the state and the two national governments can accept.

Mr. Handy said the state has not deferred enforcement of the law. Instead, Washington state has not run into a tanker that deliberately sailed in Washington waters for a regular call, knowing that no effort had been made to file a state oil spill cleanup plan, he said.