Overflow crowd at port opposes oil terminal

By Aaron Corvin, September 9, 2014, The Columbian

At least 50 people, including representatives of Vancouver neighborhood associations, showed up this morning at a Port of Vancouver commission meeting to show their opposition to a proposed oil transfer terminal at the port.


The overflow crowd spilled out of the hearing room and into a lobby, where chairs were added.


To date, 12 Vancouver neighborhood associations have taken positions against the oil terminal. They are: Arnada, Carter Park, Columbia Way, Esther Short, Fruit Valley, Harney Heights, Hough, Maplewood, North Image, Northwest, Riverview and Shumway.


Vancouver has 66 recognized neighborhood associations, according to Judi Bailey, neighborhoods program manager for the city of Vancouver.


Don Steinke of Vancouver said that the proposed oil terminal does not fit his vision for Vancouver. Steinke, a staunch critic of the terminal, demanded a public hearing in which the commission would reconsider its lease to Tesoro Corp. and Savage Companies, the two companies that have proposed the oil terminal.


Kate Ketcham of the Carter Park neighborhood said spills will pollute water and emit toxic pollutants. She urged the commission to cancel the oil terminal lease.


The comments by representatives of Vancouver neighborhood associations are the latest barrage against the proposed oil transfer terminal, as critics have maintained a presence at the port commission’s twice-monthly regular public meetings.


Opponents want the port’s board of commissioners to hold a public hearing about the oil terminal and to reconsider its unanimous decision to approve a lease with Tesoro Corp. and Savage Companies.


The companies want to build an oil-by-rail terminal that would receive an average of 360,000 barrels of crude per day at the port. The oil would be stored in six above-ground tanks. Each tank would have a shell capacity of 380,000 barrels for a total storage capacity of 2.28 million barrels. The oil would be loaded onto ships bound primarily for West Coast refineries.


Port officials have given no indication they’re willing to reconsider the lease. They’ve said the Tesoro-Savage proposal will be subject to additional public scrutiny and input as it undergoes an environmental impact review by the Washington State Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council.


Eventually, the evaluation council will make a recommendation to Gov. Jay Inslee, who will approve or deny the project. Opponents may appeal the governor’s decision to the state Supreme Court.


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