Spill Response Program

Report spills by calling Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) at (206) 386-1800. If you see a spill involving a fire or explosion or extremely dangerous substance, call 911 immediately. Spills that are in the roadway and do not enter drains should be reported to SDOT by calling (206) 386-1218.

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 a 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.


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 the Green Business Program (an SPU funded program) for more information.

Use this training video 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!

The SPU Spill Responder team at a training exercise.
A semi truck accident and fire resulted in a spill to the Duwamish Waterway. SPU deployed a water and land crew to mitigate the spill.
A spill of kerosene to Longfellow Creek in West Seattle.
Spill Responders collect oil that is washing onto rocks after a large accident involving a truck spilled fuel into Lake Union.
A contractor incorrectly disposed of concrete washwater, causing a discharge to the storm drain system.
A tank explosion resulted in a discharge of metal hydroxide to the sanitary and storm drain system.
A contractor disposed of floor wax wastewater to the street, causing a discharge to the storm drain system.
A side sewer back up resulted in a wastewater discharge to the drainage system, which discharges to nearby Thornton Creek.
A semi truck accident resulted in a release of automotive fluids.
Improper storage of grease and other chemicals resulted in a release to the street and drains.

Public Utilities

Andrew Lee, General Manager and CEO
Address: 700 5th Avenue, Suite 4900, Seattle, WA, 98104
Mailing Address: PO Box 34018, Seattle, WA, 98124-5177
Phone: (206) 684-3000

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Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) is comprised of three major direct-service providing utilities: the Water Utility, the Drainage and Wastewater Utility, and the Solid Waste Utility.