The Aberdeen City Council passes resolution opposing crude oil in Grays Harbor County

Resolution No. 2014 — A resolution in opposition to the transport and storage of crude oil in the City of Aberdeen and the Grays Harbor Estuary

WHEREAS, between April 29, 2014, and May 21 2014, there were four derailments on the Genesee and Wyoming rail line between Centralia and Aberdeen that raise serious questions about the capability of this rail line to handle current export commodities let alone the 150 car unit trains of explosive Bakken and tar sands crude oil;

WHEREAS, the Genesee and Wyoming railroad has admitted that they were unaware of the poor condition of the railway and the rail bed of the line through Grays Harbor County;

WHEREAS, in July 2013 a line of DOT 111 tank cars filled with Bakken and tar sands crude oil derailed in Lac Megantic, Quebec resulting in the destruction of 40 buildings and the deaths of 47 people;

WHEREAS, the emergency response teams of the city of Aberdeen as well as the surrounding cities, are not adequately equipped to handle explosions and fire from railcars carrying crude oil or other flammable petroleum distillates;

WHEREAS, various groups and organizations such as the Washington State Council of Firefighters through their legislative lobbyist Geoff Simpson, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 77 SeaTac through their business manager Lou Walter, the International Longshoremen and Warehousemen’s Union Local 4, Vancouver through their president Cager Claubaugh and Railroad Workers United, Spokane through their Steering Committee member Robert Hill have registered strong opposition due to safety concerns, to the transportation and storage of crude oil anywhere in the state of Washington;

WHEREAS, catastrophic explosions, spills and death due to derailments of tankers carrying Bakken, tar sands and other crude oil have also occurred in Castleton, North Dakota, New Brunswick, Canada, Aliceville, Alabama, Lynchburg, Virginia and other sites within the year since July 2013 and could occur in any town along the rail line including Aberdeen;

WHEREAS, the seafood industry accounts for nearly half of the region’s economic value and that industry would be irreparably devastated by spills of crude oil into the waters of Grays Harbor;

WHEREAS, shipments of fruits, grains and other vital commodities are experiencing delays and stoppages due to precedence being given to crude oil trains resulting in goods damage and higher prices;

WHEREAS, agencies of the United States government, including the Federal Railroad Admiration (FRA), have, in July of 2014 proposed an overhaul of safety standards for transporting crude oil and alcohol by rail due to the safety concerns over railroad conditions and the conditions of the DOT 111 tank cars; NOW, THEREFORE,

BE IT RESOLVED BY THE MAYOR AND THE CITY COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF ABERDEEN: Based upon the previously unknown dangers to the health, welfare and safety of Grays Harbor communities and citizens, the city of Aberdeen strongly urges the Port of Grays Harbor not to execute any new leases for facilities or storage tenninals that would accommodate crude oil transport or storage within the Port properties and to carefully examine the terms of any existing leases to determine if grounds exist to tenninate provisions which would allow crude oil transport or storage facilities.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED: That the city of Aberdeen strongly requests that cities and other governing bodies responsible for permitting crude oil transport and storage facilities deny future permits in light of the new information regarding rail safety and the volatility and explosiveness of the crude oil products involved and to carefully examine the terms of any existing permits to determine if revocation would be justified based on this information not being presented at the time of the original permit requests.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED: That the city of Aberdeen strongly urges the Washington State Department of Transportation and the Freight Mobility Strategic Investment Board to analyze and study the potential economic effect of crude oil train traffic on the displacement of existing economic activity and the potential loss of access to rail transport by local and regional shippers.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED: That the city of Aberdeen urges Governor lnslee, in accordance with the Centennial accord between the federally recognized Indian tribes and the state of Washington established in 1989, work directly with the Skokomish Indian Tribe, Chehalis Confederated tribes, the Nisqually tribe, the Squaxin Island tribe, the Quinault Indian nation, the Shoalwater Bay Tribe and other such tribes as are necessary to protect their treaty rights and fishing resources which are threatened by proposed oil terminals, expanding oil refineries and the routing through their territories of crude oil unit trains carrying Bakken, tar sands and other crude oil.

PASSED and APPROVED on September 24, 2014.
(Aberdeen City Councilman Alan Richrod reported, “The resolution passed unanimously to great applause.”)