Blog post by Jasmine Zimmer-Stucky, Riverkeeper’s Community Organizer—
April 14, 2014. Oregon’s only crude oil terminal is taking more heat for their dangerous crude oil terminal on the Columbia River. Riverkeeper and the Northwest Environmental Defense Center (NEDC), as well as farmers who make a living near the oil terminal, agree that the oil company’s plan, currently under review by the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), doesn’t go far enough to protect the Columbia River or local water supplies from an oil spill.
Both Riverkeeper and NEDC submitted comments to DEQ about the oil spill plan and criticized the plan’s lack of financial assurances for spill response, and the lack of funding for local emergency responders who are underequipped to deal with a crude oil fire, explosion or spill.
“Recent accidents prove that response time is essential to limiting damage from an oil spill,” stated Marla Nelson, Legal Fellow for NEDC. “This plan fails to demonstrate that Global is taking the risk of an oil spill seriously.”
Farmers near the new crude oil terminal also stand to lose if oil spills into local waterways. Mike Seely, owner of a mint farm near the crude oil terminal, casts a worried eye towards his new neighbor. “I couldn’t harvest a marketable mint crop, maybe for years, if there was a major oil spill that impacted our irrigation water,” said Seely.
Global Partners LP has a history of flaunting environmental and safety regulations. In March, Oregon DEQ fined the Port Westward crude oil terminal for illegally shipping 250 million gallons of crude in 2013, a violation of its air pollution permit. Global Partners LP applied for a new air emission permit with DEQ that would allow it to expand oil shipment to 1.8 billion gallons annually, or 50 full trains a month. The comment period for this application closes May 5, 2014. Submit your air emission permit comment here! Riverkeeper and NEDC plan to comment on that permit as well. The deadline for comments on the Oil Spill Contingency Plan is May 1, 2014.
Full comments by Riverkeeper are available here: http://columbiariverkeeper.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/2014.4.11-Columbia-Riverkeeper-Comments-on-Globals-Oil-Spill-Contingency-Plan.pdf
Full comments by NEDC are available here: http://law.lclark.edu/centers/northwest_environmental_defense_center/projects/oil-transport-in-the-pacific-northwest/
The proposed Oil Spill Contingency Plan is available here: http://www.oregon.gov/deq/LQ/Pages/Columbia/spillplan.aspx
The Daily News. April 4, 2014.
Blog post by Jasmine Zimmer-Stucky, Riverkeeper’s Community Organizer—
March 21, 2014. The oil terminal along the Columbia River at Port Westward has been, and continues, operating outside the law by moving more explosive Bakken crude oil than their current air pollution permit allows. According to the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), the crude oil company Global Partners (aka “the Columbia Pacific Biorefinery”) violated air quality laws by moving nearly six times more crude oil than their permit allows.
Global Partners is now applying for a new permit with DEQ to bring 1.8 billion gallons of oil annually through Columbia County, enough to fill 50 trains per month. Submit a comment about Global’s attempt to increase crude oil train traffic. DEQ will be accepting comments through 5:00PM on May 5.
Recent oil spills and train explosions pose serious threats to rail communities. Last year, 47 people were killed in Lac Megantic, Quebec, when a unit train of crude oil, identical to those traveling to Port Westward, from the Bakken region derailed and exploded. Additional derailments and explosions in Alabama and North Dakota of Bakken crude oil trains have raised alarms at local, state and federal levels across the nation, including a moratorium on new crude oil infrastructure in Albany, New York, where Global Partners operates a Bakken crude oil terminal.
The Oregonian. March 3, 2014.
On Tuesday, November 12th, over 80 people from Astoria, Warrenton, Forest Grove, Yamhill, and Washington state urged Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) to use its authority to reject the Oregon LNG project. We sent a clear message to DEQ: Oregonians and Washingtonians oppose Oregon LNG and the pollution it would create. Attendees asked pointed questions about how DEQ can use its authority to protect water quality, salmon habitat, and air quality in its review of the proposed Oregon LNG export terminal. The hearing occurred only weeks after Clatsop County Commissioners voted unanimously to reject the Oregon LNG pipeline. Oregon LNG cannot build its proposed LNG export terminal without air and water pollution permits and DEQ has the authority to deny them.
Check out Riverkeeper’s letter to DEQ on Oregon LNG’s proposed water pollution permit.
Oregon LNG’s Proposed Pollution Permits
- Stormwater Pollution Permit: This permit would authorize Oregon LNG to discharge dirty stormwater to the Columbia and Skipanon Rivers while building the terminal.
- Process Wastewater Permit: This permit would allow Oregon LNG to discharge millions of gallons of polluted water and stormwater every day of the year. This includes hot water, ammonia, copper and other toxic pollutants.
- Air Pollution Permit: This permit would give the green light for air pollution from compressors, vaporizers, ships, harbor tugs, support vehicles, gas-turbines, construction dust and a number of other sources. LNG tankers and the security vessels that accompany them are required to run their engines during the entire cargo loading cycle, spewing exhaust and air.
As the marathon 12 hour hearing on Australian-owned Ambre Energy’s Morrow Pacific coal export project came to a close on July 9th, hundreds of citizens converged outside the Oregon Convention Center in Portland for a People’s Hearing and rally. That day, inside the Convention Center, the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) provided two rooms for the public to testify. The room’s capacity was limited so only a handful of observers could enter and hear citizen testimony. Speaking slots were filled via online sign ups and a very small number of ‘walk-ins’ were accepted.
The resounding testimonial both inside the Convention Center and outside at the People’s Hearing was that DEQ has the power to fully study the impacts of the proposed Morrow Pacific coal export project. Yet, DEQ is choosing to limit the scope of their review to just the Port of Morrow. This approach does not serve Oregonians. DEQ must fully analyze all impacts of this controversial coal export project and deny the permits.
The DEQ hearing in eastern Oregon regarding the Morrow Pacific project was also held on July 9th for a 12 hour duration in the town of Hermiston. This hearing drew project opponents from near and far. Residents of eastern Washington and Idaho traveled to Hermiston to inform DEQ about the broad impacts of the Morrow Pacific project. For these residents, the coal export project would bring up to five coal trains per day rumbling through their cities.
Tell DEQ to stop dirty coal – deny the permits!
DEQ has opened a public comment period on draft air quality permits for the controversial Morrow Pacific coal export project proposed by Ambre Energy. The comment period runs through August 12th.
HOW CAN YOU HELP?
(1) Sign the Petition
Tell DEQ to use their authority to protect Oregon from dirty coal export by signing this petition.
(2) Attend a Public Hearing + Portland Rally
Public hearings will be held on July 9 from 8AM-8PM in both Portland and Hermiston, Oregon. Click here for details about the public hearings. And, DEQ is requiring those that want to testify at a hearing to register beforehand – REGISTER NOW!
There will be a rally in Portland outside the hearing at 5:30PM – please wear red to the rally!
Ambre Energy’s proposed Morrow Pacific coal export terminal would result in coal dust and diesel emissions that would likely exceed National Ambient Air Quality Standards and worsen pollution in the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area, where air quality is currently suffering from air pollution. The proposal would result in doubling barge traffic on the Columbia River, harming salmon, river recreation and navigation. Due to concerns over these likely impacts, local governments, tribes, federal agencies and elected officials, including Congressmen Earl Blumenauer and Peter DeFazio, have called for the preparation of an Environmental Impact Statement on the project.
Hermiston Herald. December 1, 2012.
The Seattle Times
Human Health and Columbia River at Risk According to Expert Reports On Tesoro’s Vancouver, WA, Crude-By-Rail Terminal
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Experts Flag Major Risks of Crude-by-Rail, Criticize Official Study of Impacts
Jan. 22, 2016 (Vancouver, WA) – Five experts released reports today that explain how the nation’s largest crude-by-rail terminal in Vancouver, Washington, could jeopardize public health and the Columbia River’s endangered salmon runs.
After noticing obvious flaws in the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS), the Stand Up to Oil coalition commissioned national experts to take a closer look. The experts on seismic risk, air quality, spill risk, and rail safety found that the DEIS fails to disclose the oil terminal’s full impacts. The credentials of each expert are included in the reports.
“This is the largest and most dangerous proposal in decades—the public deserves to know the real impacts,” stated Brett VandenHeuvel, Executive Director of Columbia Riverkeeper.
The reports found the following:
- Air Toxics Report, Elinor Fanning, Ph.D.
The DEIS contains “[l]ittle to no mention of the health effects of air pollution . . . .” p.5.
- Seismic Risk and Environmental Effects, Joseph Wartman, Ph.D.
- “Liquefaction-induced ground failure [resulting from a large earthquake] would be expected to damage oil pipeline and tank system components, including associated emergency containment structures . . . .” p.2.
- In an earthquake, the “dock and adjacent pipeline has a high risk of liquefaction-induced lateral spreading and ground deformation, which could severely damage the transfer pipeline infrastructure and result in the release of oil. In addition, the proposed ground improvement measures . . . will not mitigate the lateral spread risk.” p.3.
- “An independent seismic review of the project . . . indicated that the current Tesoro Savage seismic mitigation plan is inadequate.” p.4.
- Air Quality Analysis, Dr. Ranajit Sahu
- The DEIS’s “air quality, toxic air pollution, and greenhouse gas emission calculations are either incorrect or unsupported.” p.2.
- The DEIS’s air quality analysis “does not discuss additional air emissions from . . . idling locomotive[ engines],” even though the DEIS predicts that train traffic will exceed rail capacity and cause train congestion. p.6.
- “The Draft EIS fails to disclose, address, or analyze the VOC [volatile organic compound] emissions from the volatile crude oil during transit.” “[A] single train of 120 cars . . . could emit . . . around 450 tons of VOC pollutants,” and “those emissions will . . . be concentrated in urban or more-populated areas” where trains slow down and stop. pp.7–8.
- The DEIS “underestimate[es the] greenhouse gas emissions resulting from the operation of the facility” because the DEIS only analyzes the greenhouse gas emissions that would occur within Washington state. p.9.
- Spills Risk, Harvey Consulting LLC
- Existing “state and federal regulations are insufficient” to address the amount of oil that Tesoro-Savage’s proposal would bring onto Washington railroads. p.4.
- Tesoro-Savage would build six 360,000-barrel oil storage tanks, surrounded by a secondary containment berm capable of holding 606,020 barrels. The DEIS concludes that just 360,000 barrels—the volume of one tank—is the worst case spill during a large earthquake. But “[i]f an earthquake was large enough to breach one tank, it would likely result in the failure of all six similarly designed and constructed tanks.” p.24.
- The chance of an oil spill related to Tesoro-Savage’s facility in any “given year is estimated at 23%;” this “equates to a spill once every 4.4 years” from the rail cars, the terminal, or the oil tankers. p.28.
- “The DEIS confirms that local fire departments are not currently trained, resourced, or fully equipped to respond to an industrial fire or emergency at the terminal and along the rail corridor.” p.33.
- Rail Safety, Dr. Fred Millar
- The “DEIS analysis is inadequate, and . . . downplays the serious risk of an oil train fire and explosion.” p.2.
- “[A]t-risk communities are left in the dark as to potential worst case scenario [crude by rail] releases.” p.3.
- “The DEIS’s neglect of potential catastrophic fire and explosion risks is underscored by ample evidence that petrochemical storage tank disasters continue to occur worldwide.” p.16.
- Washington’s Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council, will now evaluate these expert comments, along with public testimony, and complete a Final Environmental Impact Statement. The Energy Council will hold a trial-type adjudication of facts and then make a recommendation to Governor Jay Inslee, who will approve or deny the oil terminal. Earthjustice represents Columbia Riverkeeper, Friends of the Columbia River Gorge, ForestEthics, Spokane Riverkeeper, Sierra Club, Washington Environmental Council, Climate Solutions, and Fruit Valley Neighborhood Association in this matter.
STAND UP TO OIL is a growing coalition of groups opposed to new oil terminals and an increase in oil transport through the Northwest, while working to improve safety measures for oil currently traveling through the region. Learn more at Standuptooil.org.
About Columbia Riverkeeper
Columbia Riverkeeper’s mission is to protect and restore the water quality of the Columbia River and all life connected to it, from the headwaters to the Pacific Ocean. Representing over 8,000 members and supporters, Columbia Riverkeeper works to restore a Columbia River where people can safely eat the fish they catch, and where children can swim without fear of toxic exposure. The organization is a member of Waterkeeper Alliance, the world’s fastest growing environmental movement, uniting more than 200 Waterkeeper organizations worldwide. For more information go to columbiariverkeeper.org.