Washougal will review oil terminal opposition

City Council will see draft of resolution Monday

By Justin Runquist, Columbian Small Cities Reporter

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The Washougal City Council is preparing to take up a resolution opposing a plan to build the largest oil-by-rail terminal in the Northwest at the Port of Vancouver.

City staff prepared a draft of the resolution for the council to review in a workshop at 4:30 p.m. Monday, but exactly where the councilors will go with it is unclear. That, City Administrator David Scott said, is because the councilors have given city staff no indication of what they wanted the resolution to say.

Scott said he doesn’t have a good sense of whether the councilors will move forward with the resolution as is, propose amendments or start over with something else. The point is to kick off the discussion about what stance to take on the project, he said.

“Definitely, the council’s got concerns about community safety, the safety of our citizens and the transportation system,” Scott said. “And that’s really our focus.”

City staff closely referenced the Vancouver City Council’s resolution against the project as a guide while drafting Washougal’s resolution.

The document outlines the risks of transporting oil by rail, and strongly urges Gov. Jay Inslee and the state Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council to decline the proposed Tesoro-Savage terminal at the Port of Vancouver. On average, the terminal would handle 360,000 barrels of crude oil per day.

As it stands, the resolution also encourages the Legislature and Congress to create new regulations to enhance safety for transporting oil by rail. It notes concerns about potential spills, derailments and explosions and lists numerous accidents involving oil trains in recent years.

“The city of Washougal wants transportation of crude oil by rail to meet all state, federal and local transportation rules and regulations and to exhibit a sufficient accident-free record for a sustained period of time before the approval of any projects involving transportation of crude oil by rail,” the resolution reads.

The councilors will also consider holding a public hearing on their resolution on Oct. 27, Scott said.