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Six Tacoma residents participated in a direct action on May 17th in protest of Puget Sound Energy’s (PSE) Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) Plant

The six residents chained themselves to a piece of machinery called an auger that was located on the 30-acre private property. By 5:40 am the residents had already locked down and settled into their positions on the property, walking right through the front gates, which were not bound by any locks. A PSE worker noticed the individuals within 15 minutes and called the Tacoma Police Department. Authorities took around 30 minutes to respond to the call, with work being halted until everyone was removed from the property. On the outside of the PSE property lines activists gathered in support with signs and posters opposing the project.

The LNG plant will be built in the heart of Port of Tacoma, only miles away from the Puyallup Indian Reservation. The storage facility will be slightly shorter than the Tacoma Dome. The property is located on Alexander Avenue East and East 11th street, less than a ten-minute drive from the downtown area, and an ICE government detention center is less than five miles away. If anything were to happen at the plant, people at the detention center will be the first to be affected.

Authorities started by unlocking one of the protestors who was locked higher on the auger than the others in order to record the events taking place. After he was detached and arrested, the remaining five protestors remained attached to the auger for around three hours. All six were taken to Pierce County Jail with three felony charges of first degree: trespassing, malicious mischief, and obstruction according to Loretta Cool of the Tacoma Police Department. Some of the residents were part of groups such as Rising Ride, Redline Tacoma, and Direct Action Tacoma.

Tacoma Police Department blocked entry to cars on Taylor Way, only allowing workers to pass by their blockade. Car by car individuals were stopped and interrogated on what business they had on the public road. Cars were told to turn around and leave if they were not employees of the port. Some workers passing by the protestors outside the PSE property limits, yelled profanities as well as other negative remarks while other cars stopped to try and find out what was being opposed.

LNG is an alternative to other fuels like diesel or oil, and the LNG produced in Tacoma will be used for companies like Totem Ocean Trailer Express (TOTE)– a private cargo company that operates between the Port of Tacoma and Anchorage, Alaska.

Residents of Tacoma and the Puyallup tribe have opposed the LNG plant since 2014. LNG plants have had accidents in the past, that if repeated could endanger the lives of people living and working in the close vicinity of the plant.

In 2014 there was an explosion at an LNG site in Plymoth, WA that caused hundreds to evacuate and five major injuries. The damages from this project cost approximately $69 million dollars. After natural gas ignited within the LNG processing equipment, the plant exploded in a mushroom cloud sending out 250 pounds of debris.

The LNG plant will be used to cool natural gas to approximately -280 degrees Fahrenheit where it is converted into a liquid state that is more condensed and easier to store and ship. The plant will also vaporize LNG back into natural gas. Two cryogenic pipelines will come out of the plant and connect to the existing pipelines that litter Pierce County along with the TOTE site where the LNG will be used for their ships.

The property is surrounded by other big businesses, and the Port of Tacoma is one of the largest in the country. Since 1921 when the port was created, over $160 million has been spent in projects aimed to improve the environment in the surrounding area. Being so close to the water any kind of accident could ruin the marine ecosystem, endangering the lives of salmon and other endangered animals.

 

 

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