City eyes key per­mit for oil ter­mi­nal on Wash­ing­ton coast

Kuwait Times - - BUSINESS -

As the small city of Ho­quiam con­sid­ers a key per­mit for a pro­posed ter­mi­nal that would move mil­lions of bar­rels of crude oil through Grays Har­bor, op­po­nents are rais­ing con­cerns about the po­ten­tial for oil spills and im­pacts on tribal fish­ing rights.

West­way Ter­mi­nal, re­cently re­named Con­tanda, wants to ex­pand its ex­ist­ing methanol fa­cil­ity in Wash­ing­ton state to re­ceive up to 17.8 mil­lion bar­rels of oil a year and store up to 1 mil­lion bar­rels of crude oil. The project would bring crude oil by train from the Bakken re­gion of North Dakota and Mon­tana or di­luted bi­tu­men from Al­berta where it would be stored in tanks and then loaded onto tankers or barges for ship­ping to re­finer­ies in the Puget Sound area or Cal­i­for­nia.

The Quin­ault In­dian Na­tion and en­vi­ron­men­tal groups say the en­vi­ron­men­tal and safety risks are too great. They’re urg­ing Ho­quiam to deny the project a shore­line de­vel­op­ment per­mit.

Hous­ton-based Con­tanda says the project would bring jobs and eco­nomic ben­e­fits to the re­gion and the fa­cil­ity would be built to the strictest lo­cal, state and fed­eral safety and en­vi­ron­men­tal pro­to­cols.

“We’re con­fi­dent that we can safely build and op­er­ate the fa­cil­ity in a way that pro­tects our em­ploy­ees, our neigh­bors, and the en­vi­ron­ment, us­ing the en­vi­ron­men­tal im­pact state­ment as a guide,” Con­tanda spokesman Paul Queary said in a state­ment. “We look for­ward to re­ceiv­ing per­mits from the city so we can start con­struc­tion, put peo­ple to work, and pro­vide the com­mu­nity with tax rev­enue and other eco­nomic ben­e­fits,” he added. An en­vi­ron­men­tal re­view com­pleted by the state and Ho­quiam in Septem­ber pro­posed dozens of mea­sures to off­set or re­duce im­pacts, but said there would be sig­nif­i­cant im­pacts to tribal re­sources and to health and safety if a crude oil spill, fire or ex­plo­sion oc­curs that could not be avoided even with such mea­sures in place.

“The va­ri­ety of im­pacts that are dis­cussed and dis­closed give the city of Ho­quiam the ev­i­dence it needs to deny the per­mit,” said Kris­ten Boyles, an at­tor­ney with Earthjus­tice rep­re­sent­ing the Quin­ault, whose reser­va­tion sits about 30 miles up the coast from the pro­posed site.

The tribe says mov­ing mil­lions of gal­lons of crude oil by train and tankers through the re­gion put the tribe’s safety, treatyre­served fish­ing rights and way of life at risk. An en­vi­ron­men­tal re­view found that in­creased ves­sel dock­ing and traf­fic in the nav­i­ga­tion chan­nel would re­strict ac­cess to tribal fish­ing ar­eas, and that pro­posed mea­sures such as giv­ing ad­vance no­tice of ves­sels would re­duce but not elim­i­nate that im­pact. Ho­quiam City Ad­min­is­tra­tor Brian Shay said the city has hired an in­de­pen­dent con­sul­tant to re­view the project and write a draft de­ci­sion. He says he typ­i­cally ac­cepts such de­ci­sions. The pub­lic com­ment pe­riod ended a week ago, and a de­ci­sion isn’t likely un­til Jan­uary, he added.

“What­ever we do, we ex­pect it to be ap­pealed,” Shay said. Ho­quiam pre­vi­ously is­sued a per­mit for the oil ter­mi­nal project in 2013. The Quin­ault and groups such as the Sierra Club and Surfrider Foun­da­tion chal­lenged it, and a state hear­ings board re­versed the per­mit. The city and De­part­ment of Ecol­ogy be­gan an en­vi­ron­men­tal re­view in 2014 that was re­leased in Septem­ber.

That anal­y­sis pro­poses tug es­corts, set­ting up oil spill preven­tion and re­sponse plans and other mea­sures to lessen en­vi­ron­men­tal im­pacts, but says that “no mit­i­ga­tion mea­sures would com­pletely elim­i­nate the pos­si­bil­ity of a spill, fire, or ex­plo­sion, nor would they com­pletely elim­i­nate the ad­verse con­se­quences.”

The US Fish and Wildlife Ser­vice re­cently told the city that it agrees with the Quin­ault In­dian Na­tion that deny­ing the per­mit “is the only de­fen­si­ble de­ci­sion.” It says the “pro­posal poses risks to our com­mu­ni­ties and to unique nat­u­ral re­sources that can­not be fully mit­i­gated, in­clud­ing U.S. Fish and Wildlife Ser­vice trust re­sources.” At one time, three oil ter­mi­nals were pro­posed for the Port of Grays Har­bor. US De­vel­op­ment no­ti­fied the port last year that it would not re­new a lease op­tion for a pro­posed oil­ter­mi­nal. Re­new­able En­ergy Group, for­merly Im­perium, told state and lo­cal reg­u­la­tors late last year that it dropped plans to han­dle crude oil as it pur­sues an ex­pan­sion project.

In the mean­time, the Ho­quiam City Coun­cil in 2015 ap­proved a ban on any new crude oil stor­age fa­cil­i­ties within city lim­its. The tribe ar­gues that the project should be cov­ered by that ban. — AP

BARCELONA: ‘El Banc dels Ali­ments’ (Food Bank Foun­da­tion) vol­un­teers clas­sify food to be dis­trib­uted among the poor, at a ware­house in Barcelona dur­ing a na­tional char­ity cam­paign to fight hunger, yes­ter­day.—AFP

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