Port of Morrow Coal Proposal On the Ropes In 2015

Will the Port of Morrow be the Fourth Coal Terminal to Go Down?

Ambre Energy’s Port of Morrow proposal faced a bleak future even before March 19, the day the Oregon Transportation Commission denied $2M in grant funding through ConnectOregon.

In August 2014, the Department of State Lands rejected the removal-fill permit for the Coyote Island Terminal at the Port of Morrow in Boardman. DSL director Mary Abrams said her agency weighed numerous factors before making the decision, including public comments, economic and social impacts of the project, and whether the project meets state requirements for protecting water resources, navigation, fishing and public recreation. Both Ambre and the Port of Morrow have appealed the decision.

In September 2014, the Army Corps of Engineers delivered another blow to the beleaguered coal terminal, announcing it had “placed a hold” in its review of an application to construct a barge-loading terminal at Coyote Island.  The Army Corps said it paused its review process in light of DSL’s rejection of Ambre’s application to install pilings for the project.

In March 2015, the Oregon Transportation Commission voted 3-1 to reject funding for a controversial $2 million ConnectOregon project to fund dock improvements for a proposed coal export facility at Port Westward. This was the second time OTC rejected the grant.

Additionally, coal loading operations at Port Westward– necessary to the Port of Morrow project– hinge on yet-to-be granted authorization from the Oregon Department of State Lands.

The following summarizes the size and scope of the proposed project.  Information below was sourced from Earthfix, June, 2012:

Morrow Pacific: Ports of Morrow and St. Helens, OR (aka Boardman)

This two-port plan would bring coal by rail to the Port of Morrow in Boardman, OR. There it would be transferred by barge, delivered to Port Westward and loaded onto ships headed for Asia. Both terminals along the Columbia would encroach upon sensitive salmon habitat.  In particular, the terminal at Port Westward could stack huge barges in Bradburry Slough, a prime salmon spawning area that the State of Oregon has spent millions of dollars to restore. This proposal if approved would double barge traffic in the river at full build up, impeding the transportation of other commodities, tribal and commercial fishing, as well as recreational fishing, boating and parasailing.

Air quality, water quality, and construction stormwater permits were approved in February, 2014 by Oregon’s Department of Environmental Quality.2

Players: Ambre Energy North America & Pacific Transloading

Full Capacity: To be reached by 2016

Export Plans: 8.8 million short tons/year

Trains: 22 trains/week (11 full and 11 empty)

Trains Cars: 1,459/week

Barges: 12 tows/week

Vessels: 128/year