While much of the debate over a rail-to-marine oil terminal at the Port of Vancouver has dealt in hypotheticals and intangibles, one question has a human face: Just who, exactly, would work at this facility?
Jared Larrabee, general manager of the Tesoro Corp.-Savage Cos. joint venture known as Vancouver Energy, made a strong pitch for the oil terminal Wednesday morning during a Southwest Washington Contractors Association breakfast, assuring members that other than the handful of out-of-town specialists needed to get the terminal rolling, jobs would be sourced locally.
“Everywhere we go, we hire primarily locally,” Larrabee said. “I would see us bringing in maybe three (people) externally, the rest being hired locally.”
Touching on energy independence, local jobs and the company’s commitment to safety, Larrabee presented the well-worn arguments for building the terminal, which would handle 360,000 barrels of crude oil per day from railcars to cargo ships bound for West Coast refineries. Vancouver Energy has said direct and indirect employment for the terminal could reach 1,000 jobs and the economic benefit could near $2 billion in labor income during construction and the first 15 years of operation.
Opponents have railed against the $210 million project as riddled with risks they say can’t be mitigated, though Larrabee said it is in the company’s own interest — for its workers, its product and its bottom line — to operate safely. Responding to a question on safety fears raised by opponents, Larrabee said concerns are valid.
“There are some legitimate concerns, and then there is a group using safety-related fear for a broader platform,” he said. “We should have realistic discussions about all those issues.”
“Whatever energy product we use, all of them have an environmental impact,” he added.
The contractors association has not taken a position on the terminal — Wednesday’s talk was meant only to inform members.