Port of Longview Rejects Proposed Columbia River Oil Refinery and Propane Export Terminal
Feb. 23, 2016 (Longview, WA) – The Port of Longview commissioners voted unanimously to end negotiations with Waterside Energy, the backers of a controversial oil refinery and propane export terminal. Waterside proposed the first west coast oil refinery in 25 years and the first ever on the Columbia River.
Local educators, first responders, and conservation groups praised the Port’s decision. “I’ve taught in schools near oil refineries—the smell was hard to live with but the rate of childhood cancer was devastating. Today, the port commission did the right thing for Longview’s children,” said Krista Mead, elementary school teacher at Columbia Valley Garden Elementary School.
Waterside proposed serving the refinery and the propane terminal with trains. “If there was a large oil train incident, we would have to call in help from outside areas to respond to the current level of flammable materials traveling through our service area,” said Glen Hudson, a volunteer with the Cowlitz 2 fire department. “The port commission rejected a project that we are unprepared to respond to. Statistics from 2016 already reveal that we are facing a higher volume of emergency response calls—our resources are already being stretched too thin. If the fire department expanded to meet the risk that Waterside poses, taxpayers would bear the burden.”
The Port’s decision marks the latest in a string of defeats for fossil fuel projects on the Columbia River. In addition to Waterside, the Port of Longview previously rejected a propane export terminal by Haven Energy. The City of Portland rejected a propane terminal proposed by Pembina.
“Our region values clean water and healthy communities,” said Brett VandenHeuvel, Executive Director of Columbia Riverkeeper. “Dirty fossil fuel projects fly in the face of these values. The Port of Longview heard loud and clear from its constituents: an oil refinery and propane terminal are dirty and dangerous.”
“This community presented a compelling argument against the Waterside oil refinery and propane terminal,” stated Kelso resident Linda Horst. “By voting ‘no’, our port commissioners demonstrated a sincere desire to work not only for the community, but with the community. I thank them for the resounding ‘no’ vote.”
Oil refinery opponents flagged the checkered history of Waterside Energy. In 2014, Waterside Energy’s backers abandoned their biodiesel facility in Odessa, Washington, firing all employees and leaving over $1.6 million in unpaid bills. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency conducted an emergency cleanup at the site after discovering dangerous, leaking chemicals. Today’s vote ends two years of negotiations –largely behind closed doors – to build the first oil refinery on the Columbia.
Waterside: Big on risk, low on benefits
In September 2015, Waterside Energy LLC finally came clean about their dirty and dangerous scheme for Longview: an oil refinery and a Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) terminal. Waterside wants to build an oil refinery on the banks of the Columbia River, which would bring three oil trains a week to Longview. And, Waterside’s new plans include a terminal to export Canadian propane to Asian markets. Waterside held secret talks with the Port of Longview for over a year before disclosing its plans, hiding in the background as the Port unanimously rejected Haven Energy, another LPG proposal, after fierce opposition from the community and ILWU Local 21.
- Waterside fact sheet created by Columbia Riverkeeper.
- Detailed documents from EPA, Ecology and others with cleanup, tax, and lawsuit information.
Waterside wants to build an oil refinery and bring three dangerous oil trains a week to Longview.
- In the past two years, 10 oil trains have derailed and exploded in North The blast zone for oil trains is one mile.i
- Waterside’s refinery would be less than one mile from homes and businesses – putting tens of thousands in the blast zone.
- Waterside plans a biofuels facility next to their oil refinery but company leaders have a murky history with biofuels.ii
- Accidents and explosions at oil refineries have killed 64 workers in the past decade.iii
- An oil trans-loading terminal proposed in Vancouver is opposed by the ILWU Local 4, over 100 local businesses, the firefighters union, the city council and the largest waterfront developer in The project is years behind schedule.
Costly oil spills are a reality if we let them build here.
- Even with the best available technology, only 10-15% of oil spills in water are ever “cleaned ”iv
- The rail industry claims that 9% of rail hazmat shipments arrive at their destination safely.v That means .1% doesn’t—.1% of Waterside’s oil refinery proposal amounts to 10,959 gallons of oil.
Waterside Energy LLC has a record of failure.
- The principals are former businesses partners in a failed biofuels venture in Eastern, Washington called without warning, TransMessis employees were laid off and the plant was shuttered.vi
- There is an ongoing lawsuit against the backers of While operating TransMessis, the lawsuit alleges that they lied on credit applications and lined their own pockets instead of paying more than $1.6 million in outstanding debts.vii
Despite an LPG rejection earlier this year, Waterside is trying to bring it back.
- A flammable vapor cloud of propane could extend for miles in all directions if a rupture occurred at the terminal.viii
- LPG export would bring in 29 highly pressurized unit trains of propane per month – that’s 58 unit trains round trip!
- These security zones extend up to 500 yards while LPG ships are moored and 1000 feet or more when moving.ix
- i http://explosive-crude-by-rail.org/
- ii http://www.inlander.com/spokane/seeds-of-doubt/Content?oid=2510686
- iii http://apps.texastribune.org/blood-lessons/data/
- iv http://science.time.com/2011/07/11/why-the-yellowstone-oil-spill-is-so-tough-to-clean-up/
- v http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2015/feb/26/edward-hamberger-freight-rails-investing-in-safety/
- vi http://www.inlander.com/spokane/seeds-of-doubt/Content?oid=2510686
- vii Ibid
- viii http://www.oregonlive.com/portland/index.ssf/2015/03/pembina_says_outside_review_sh.html
- ix https://www.law.cornell.edu/cfr/text/33/165.103