Crude Oil Terminal’s Oil Spill Plan Lacks Adequate Protection and Response

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

 

 

 

DEQ not enforcing safety laws, oil dock critics say

The Daily News. April 4, 2014.

Unpermitted Oil Terminal Seeks DEQ Approval

 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.

Photo by Trip Jennings

Photo by Trip Jennings

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.

Click here for an in-depth report from The Oregonian

 

 

 

 

Oil train terminal near Clatskanie violated state law by growing without required permit, DEQ says

The Oregonian. March 3, 2014.

Riverkeeper and Allies Team Up to Tell DEQ to Reject Oregon LNG Air and Water Permits

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. 

Photo by Laurie Caplan

Photo by Laurie Caplan

Oregon LNG’s Proposed Pollution Permits

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

People’s Hearing Preferred Over DEQ’s Narrow Scope on Coal Export

jasmine and dan peoples hearingAs 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.

DEQ can protect Oregon from coal export and ask them to do it today! The comment period for the first permits for coal export ends August 12, 2013.

coal export hearingThroughout the day and into the People’s Hearing, photo petitions opposing coal export were posted to Oregon Governor Kitzhaber’s Twitter account and phone calls were made to his citizen hotline.

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!

Send DEQ your public comment about the Morrow Pacific project today.

 

peoples hearing 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DEQ: Protect Oregon from Dirty Coal Export!

terminalThe Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) is recklessly moving towards permitting the first coal export terminal in the Northwest at the Port of Morrow in Boardman, Oregon.

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 5:30PMplease wear red to the rally!

 

Click here for Riverkeeper’s suggested talking points & questions for DEQ

 

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.

 

Read more about this bad move that could make Oregon the first state to break ground for coal export.

 

 

 

 

 

 

DEQ to hear from public on coal exports Tuesday

Hermiston Herald. December 1, 2012.

Judge calls runoff standards inadequate

The Seattle Times

Oregon Refuses to Protect Public from Oil Terminal’s New Air Pollution

Increased Pollution from Oil Train Facility on Columbia River Remains Unchecked

Dec. 11, 2014 (PORTLAND, Ore.) — Oregon’s Department of Environmental Quality today rejected a petition submitted on behalf of tens of thousands of Oregonians asking the agency to protect Oregon’s air from harmful new oil terminal pollution by requiring Global Partners to obtain a more protective air pollution permit.image via pr

In late 2012, Global covertly transformed a mothballed ethanol facility in Clatskanie into a Bakken crude oil terminal. In doing so, Global violated clean air laws by failing to obtain appropriate air pollution permits. DEQ decided to both prosecute Global’s legal violations and issue the company an air permit allowing oil transport to continue and sparking strong opposition from Oregonians in communities threatened by the pollution and dangerous oil train traffic. In response, regional and national conservation organizations petitioned DEQ to put in place additional protections for Oregon’s air.

“It’s hard to understand why state regulators won’t do what’s right for Oregonians and the air we breathe,” said Tanya Sanerib senior attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity. “DEQ summarily rejected each request to better protect Oregon’s air including simple things like accounting for oil train and barge pollution.”

Global Partners moves highly volatile crude oil by train through the Columbia River Gorge and local communities, including Hood River, Portland and Rainier, to its crude oil hub in Clatskanie along the Columbia River.

“DEQ once again is insisting on giving Global the wrong air permit,” said attorney Marla Nelson with NEDC. “Given Global’s operations and the amount they pollute, a more protective air permit is required, but DEQ has fought this reality at every turn.”

“Global flagrantly violated our clean air laws and slipped the wool over DEQ’s eyes when it started moving volatile crude through our state without telling anyone,” said staff attorney John Krallman with Neighbors for Clean Air. “But now DEQ is backing this violator, not our air quality.”

“The State of Oregon should use its full authority to protect communities along the Columbia River from the serious threats posed by oil trains and Global’s mega crude oil terminal,” said executive director Brett VandenHeuvel of Columbia Riverkeeper. “We are disappointed by DEQ’s decision to put the interests of out-of-state Big Oil before public health.”

Northwest Environmental Defense Center, the Center for Biological Diversity, Neighbors for Clean Air, Columbia Riverkeeper and Sierra Club submitted the petition to DEQ.

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The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 800,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

The Northwest Environmental Defense Center is a non-profit organization that has been working to protect the environment and natural resources of the Pacific Northwest since 1969.

Neighbors for Clean Air is an Oregon-based nonprofit seeking to make public health a priority in Oregon’s air pollution regulations.

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.

PDF of Press Release

Marla Nelson, Northwest Environmental Defense Center, (651) 434-7737

John Krallman, Neighbors for Clean Air, (540) 903-0534

Tanya Sanerib, Center for Biological Diversity, (971) 717-6407