Vancouver fails to oppose oil terminal or request comprehensive environmental review

Tesoro Corp. and Savage Companies want to spend up to $100 million to build a 42-acre oil-handling operation involving Port of Vancouver sites.  It would be the largest such operation in the Northwest.  The city of Vancouver requested that state regulators conduct a  “thorough oil-terminal study”  but failed to oppose the oil terminal or request comprehensive environmental review. The public comment/scoping period ends Wednesday, December 18.

The following article by Aaron Corvin was published in the Columbian on December 10. Photo: Steven Lane, The Columbian

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Vancouver neighborhoods cut off from fire and police protection by increased train traffic. A highly volatile commodity traveling near homes. An industrial area prone to liquefying in an earthquake.

Those are among more than 100 areas of concern the city of Vancouver wants state regulators to include in their examination of the environmental impacts of a proposed oil-by-rail operation at the Port of Vancouver.

City officials on Monday presented to the City Council a draft 12-page document outlining Vancouver’s concerns about the proposal by Tesoro Corp. and Savage Companies to run a facility capable of handling as much as 380,000 barrels of crude per day for eventual conversion into transportation fuels. It would be the largest such operation in the Northwest.

The city will send its concerns to the state Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council, or EFSEC, as part of the council’s scoping process to decide what should be included in the environmental review of the project. The deadline for submitting remarks is Dec. 18.

Senior Planner Jon Wagner told city councilors that thousands of people have submitted comments to EFSEC. “I feel confident the project will be thoroughly reviewed,” he said.

Project opponents want the city to request a comprehensive environmental review and to oppose the project. They include Jim Eversaul, a Vancouver resident and retired U.S. Coast Guard chief engineer, who was among 11 people who spoke to city councilors last month. “It’s just not that many jobs for the price,” he said of the oil-handling facility.

The city’s concerns reflect many of those raised by opponents, including potential oil spills, detrimental impacts to the city’s waterfront redevelopment plan and climate change. But the city isn’t taking a position on the oil terminal, according to its scoping comments. Instead, the city “encourages EFSEC to require a full and comprehensive analysis of the probable, significant adverse environmental impacts of the entire project.”

In an email to The Columbian, Rebecca Boucher, a spokeswoman for Savage, said the company and Tesoro declined to comment for this story.

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