$190M Vancouver crude oil terminal will be safe, backers say

Steve Wilhelm, July 11, 2014, Puget Sound Business Journal

Backers of a proposed crude oil transfer terminal in Vancouver, Wash., are starting a public relations push ahead of a draft environmental impact statement, which is set to be released in a few months.

Crude oil trains through the state could take a significant jump if the terminal, capable of handling more than 360,000 barrels a day, is built.

Backers of the $190 million terminal say it will be safe, using only tank cars built with heavier steel, a standard called CPC-123.

“We have a commitment, in this facility, we will only receive CPC-123 or newer cars,” said Jared Larrabee, vice president and general manager of the proposed Vancouver Energy Terminal.

Larrabee visited PSBJ offices Thursday to make a case for the project.

The terminal is to built by a joint venture between Utah-based Savage Companies, and Tesoro Corp., a major oil company.

If fully built out, the terminal could attract four oil trains a day, each carrying about 90,000 barrels a day. The trains would have 100 to 120 cars each, he said. The trains – coming from the North Dakota Bakken oil fields and other new oil fields in the West – would travel to the terminal on rails along the Columbia River, although when empty they might return eastbound over the Stampede Pass, near Auburn.

Unlike coal export trains and crude oil trains that help supply the four refineries in Northwest Washington, trains going to the Vancouver Oil Terminal would not pass through Seattle.

Crude oil trains became controversial after several explosions. That, combined with the general specter of increasing fossil fuel consumption at a time when climate change concerns are rising, have also brought new opposition to the oil trains.

Groups like Rising Tide in Portland have mounted strong campaigns against the trains and have packed public hearings on the issue. The proposal is to be reviewed by the Washington state Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council, called EFSEC, once the EIS is done. Gov. Jay Inslee would then can approve or disapprove the project.

While Inslee hasn’t taken a position, he has been very outspoken on climate change issues. The Vancouver City Council has taken a position against the proposed terminal, although the Port of Vancouver has approved it.

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