Wash. State Pulls Permits for 2 Oil Train Terminals

Oct 9, 2013

  Officials are rejecting permits for two major oil-train terminals in Southwest Washington after deciding the projects should face more environmental scrutiny.

The state Shorelines Hearings Board issued a letter Wednesday saying it plans to invalidate the permits for Westway Terminal Co. and Imperium Terminal Services, which want to build oil shipping terminals at the Port of Grays Harbor that could store up to 1.5 million barrels of crude from North Dakota and Alberta. The city of Hoquiam issued the permits last spring, after determining in conjunction with the state Ecology Department that the proposals posed minimal threat to the environment.

Groups including the Quinalt Indian Nation and the Sierra Club appealed. Kristin Boyles, an attorney with Earthjustice who represented the Quinault, said the state is not prepared to respond to an oil spill caused by an overturned train car like the one that shocked Quebec in July.  

“There were quotes in the newspaper that I read after the Quebec disaster saying that Washington state was not ready for this kind of influx of oil, was not ready for it in this way, along our rail lines, along lots of freshwater streams. If it’s tar sands oil that’s coming, no one knows how to clean that up,” Boyles said.

The board agreed with the argument that city and state officials failed to consider the cumulative environmental impacts of having the two terminals running along with a third terminal planned nearby.

The board also said the effects of increased train and vessel traffic need to be considered, as does the damage that could be posed by an oil spill.

A total of eight new projects to accommodate increased oil train traffic in Washington are currently on the table.