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U.S. - Canada Agreement to Streamline Response to Oil Spills Along Boarder

Release Date: 10/26/1998
Contact Information: Jim Everts
(206) 553-1677

October 26, 1998 - - - - - - - - - 98-57

For Immediate Release

Should there be an oil spill, chemical release or other environmental hazard on or near the U.S./Canada border, emergency responders from both countries will spend more time battling the spill and less time battling red tape thanks to CANUSWEST, a new international spill response agreement announced today.

CANUSWEST will allow Canadian and U.S. agencies to respond more quickly to cross border oil spills and other environmental hazards. Environment Canada, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Province of British Columbia and the states of Idaho, Washington and Montana have joined forces to design a plan for battling environmental emergencies on or near the B.C/U.S. border.

According to Chuck Clarke, Regional Administrator of EPA’s Northwest regional office in Seattle, and Bill Yellowtail, Clarke’s counterpart in EPA’s Region 8 Headquarters in Denver, this agreement is a critical weapon in today’s spill response “arsenal”.

“Environmental disasters don’t recognize borders, political boundaries or lines on maps,” Clarke said. “To have this agreement signed and in place will make responding to the inevitable cross border incident that much easier.”

Clarke and Yellowtail also made a point of saluting the hard work that forged the partnership. Representatives of B.C. provincial and federal agencies, Aboriginal people, Tribal Governments, Washington, Idaho, Montana, including many of the region’s local governments, all contributed to make CANUSWEST a reality.

Enthusiastic support was echoed by Art Martell, Environment Canada’s Regional Director General of B.C. and the Yukon.

“CANUSWEST will ensure that local, state and provincial responders will get federal support when they need it,” Martell said. “It also recognizes the rights of Tribal and Aboriginal people when spills impact their lands and resources.”

CANUSWEST will ensure prompt notification of cross-border incidents to federal, state/provincial, Tribal/Aboriginal peoples and local authorities. Additionally, the agreement will facilitate the movement of personnel, equipment and supplies across the U.S./Canada border and provide incident and response information to the public, elected officials and the media. CANUSWEST, part of the Canada/U.S. Joint Inland Pollution Contingency Plan, will ensure a swift effective response to protect public health and the environment.

The agreement will take effect immediately and will be tested periodically in a series of cross border exercises. The first test, held in June 1998, was judged by all participants to be very successful.

Copies of CANUSWEST may be obtained in the U.S. free-of-charge by calling the EPA Region-10 Public Environmental Resource Center (PERC) at 1-800-424-4372. The document is also available on the Internet:

U.S. EPA site:


      Environment Canada site:

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For further information about CANUSWEST in Canada, please contact:

Ken Wile Anne-Marie Clancy
Environment Canada Environment Canada
Head, Emergencies Section Communications Officer
604-666-6496 604-713-9807