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It’s up to Inslee:  Fate of what would be the largest oil export terminal in the US

Governor Inslee has 60 days to approve or reject an application by the Tesoro oil company to build the nation’s largest crude oil export terminal on the Columbia River at the Port of Vancouver.

Over the past four years, a potent, on-the-ground coalition led by the SW Sierra Club and the local Longshore Union mobilized the people of Clark County, along with other statewide and regional organizations, to oppose the proposal. 

At the county level, a strategic accomplishment was to elect a majority of Commissioners to the Port of Vancouver—despite heavily funded opposition by Tesoro. The two new Commissioners, Eric LaBrant and Don Orange, oppose the Tesoro project.

At the statewide level, this coalition focused on the environmental review by the State’s Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council (EFSEC).  EFSEC published its Final Environmental Impact Statement in November and then voted unanimously to recommend that Governor Inslee reject Tesoro’s application.

One of the many groups who wrote to Governor Inslee after the EFSEC decision is the Washington State Council of Fire Fighters (WSCFF).  In his letter to Governor Inslee, Dennis Lawson, President of the WSCFF, said that “We see this project as a fundamental threat to our members, other first responders, and the communities we serve.”

President Lawson continued, “We have written to you before about the dangers of 120-car unit trains that carry 3.7 million gallons of Bakken crude oil through our communities each week.  Approving Tesoro’s project would more than double the number of weekly oil trains in our state from 24.5 to 52.5. The expanded train traffic along the length of the 445-mile stretch of track called the Columbia River Alignment would negatively impact our members.

“It would increase by 73% the risk of a crude-by-rail spill; escalate the risks to motorists and pedestrians at 200 at-grade rail crossings; slow down emergency vehicle response by 41 minutes along the Alignment and elevate the health risks to communities, causing greater demand for emergency responses. In addition, every community within a quarter mile of the track from Spokane to Vancouver – in conjunction with first responders—would be required to  prepare ‘specific evacuation plans.’”

The 60-day period for the governor’s decision began December 19th, when Inslee received the EFSEC recommendation to reject the project application.

One Comment

  1. Don Steinke January 1, 2018

    In their final recommendation to the Governor, EFSEC said,
    The new stronger DOT-117 tank cars have a puncture velocity of only 12.3 miles per hour.
    Dr. Barkan’s projection that derailments will involve an average of 12.7 tank cars appears reasonable.
    Robert Chipkevich provided a listing of 24 crude oil and ethanol train incidents involving release of tank car contents in North America. A total of 6,498,602 gallons of product were released in the 24 accidents. The average release per accident was 270,775 gallons, which is the equivalent of about 30 gasoline cargo tank trucks.
    We project an average spill of 82,500 gallons (1964 barrels) for this proposal. (Don speculates, Maybe this number is lower because the new tank cars will be better.)
    He noted that of 442 derailed tank cars, 314 tank cars released cargo.
    The average number of cars derailed in the 24 accidents is 18.4 and the average number of cars that breached is 13.
    Seventeen of the 24 incidents occurred at speeds of 40 mph or less, eight at speeds of 25 mph or less, and two at 10 mph or less.
    Twenty of the 24 train derailments (83.3 percent), resulted in a fire.

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