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Feb. 5, 2023

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Port hires safety consultant for energy projects

By , Columbian Port & Economy Reporter
Published:

The Port of Vancouver has hired a safety consultant to examine energy projects, including the proposal to build the nation’s largest rail-to-marine oil transfer terminal at the port.

Commissioners on Tuesday voted unanimously to hire The Sawicki Group for no more than $200,000. The contract is for up to three years of services. The expenditure wasn’t included in the port’s adopted 2015 budget.

Commissioner Jerry Oliver asked port managers why the expense for such expertise was only now being requested.

“We have this project that has attracted attention called an oil terminal … was that an oversight?” he said. Todd Krout, the port’s director of operations, said it wasn’t so much an oversight as it was the oil terminal’s lengthy review by the state Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council. That’s made the release of certain information from the council “a moving target,” Krout said.

The council is expected to release its draft environmental impact analysis of the oil terminal, proposed by Tesoro Corp. and Savage Cos, in late November. The Sawicki Group’s work, which will include reviewing the draft impact statement, will begin toward the end of this year and will be included in the port’s 2016 budget, Krout said.

The Sawicki Group, based in Blaine, was founded by David Sawicki in September 2013, according to the Secretary of State’s Office. David Sawicki has worked in the petroleum industry with Amoco and BP for 35 years, according to his LinkedIn page. That experience includes assignments in “exploration, production, and refining, across 11 states and 19 countries.” His exploration and emergency/crisis management assignments have included “geology, geophysics, drilling, pipelines, refining, shipping, emergency and crisis training classes and drills, and responses to spills, fires, civil unrest, earthquakes and hurricanes.”

Sawicki’s LinkedIn page also highlights awards and honors, including a letter of recognition he received in 2013 from Gov. Jay Inslee for working to help the state prepare for and respond to oil spills. Noting Sawicki’s experience working with Native American tribes and nongovernmental organizations, Commissioner Brian Wolfe said that “even though you have an oil industry background,” it sounds as though “these tribes and NGOs (nongovernmental organizations) have accepted your expertise and recommendations” for making projects safer.

“I guess you’d have to ask them specifically,” Sawicki replied during Tuesday’s public meeting. “I’m sure there were times we disagreed on specific issues.”

The Sawicki Group’s initial scope of work will include reviewing Tesoro and Savage’s facility safety and operations plans, and rail safety and operations plans, according to the port. The company also will provide support to the port’s attorney during the evaluation council’s adjudication process, which includes expert witnesses, and pro and con testimony about the oil terminal.

The port issued a request for proposals for such services in March. It evaluated proposals from three consultants and interviewed all three. It selected The Sawicki Group “as the most capable consultant to meet the needs of this contract,” according to the port staff’s recommendation to the port commission.

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Columbian Port & Economy Reporter