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News / Clark County News

EFSEC report lists 5 key oil terminal impacts

Project’s Final Environmental Impact Statement outlines unavoidable effects if it’s built

By Dameon Pesanti, Columbian staff writer
Published: November 21, 2017, 7:48pm

The state panel tasked with evaluating the proposed Vancouver Energy oil terminal said the project has five significant unavoidable impacts that cannot be fully mitigated if it were to be built.

The details came during a special meeting held in Olympia when the Washington State Energy Site Evaluation Council announced it had completed the project’s Final Environmental Impact Statement.

The moment marked a significant milestone in the project’s evaluation, which has spanned more than four years.

EFSEC staff said these significant, unavoidable impacts would occur should the terminal be built:

• Socioeconomic impacts to Vancouver’s Fruit Valley neighborhood.

• Fire and medical service response delays due to increased rail traffic.

• Increased accidents and deaths in the rail corridor as a result of increased train traffic.

Oil terminal meeting

EFSEC will host a public meeting to announce its recommendation on the Vancouver Energy oil terminal to Gov. Jay Inslee next week. It will be at 1 p.m. Tuesday at John A. Cherberg Building, Capitol Campus, Senate Hearing Room No. 4, 304 15th Ave. S.W., Olympia.

It will also be livestreamed on tvw.org.

n View or download a copy of the Final Environmental Impact Statement at: www.efsec.wa.gov/Tesoro%20Savage/FEIS/FEIS_PAGE.shtml

• Potential impacts to the dock and transfer pipeline, which could result in a spill, due to liquefaction of some soils in the event of a large earthquake such as the Cascadia Subduction Zone earthquake.

• The impacts from a fire spill, or explosion at the facility.

According to the document, “Although crude oil spills, fires, or explosions may be considered unlikely under the risk analysis, the resulting environmental impacts in this chapter could be severe if they occur, and thus are considered significant under the State Environmental Protection Act.”

Vancouver Energy is proposing to build the $210 million terminal at the Port of Vancouver. It would be capable of transferring an average of 360,000 barrels of oil per day from crude oil unit trains into marine vessels in the Columbia River bound for refineries along the West Coast.

EFSEC staff and experts who worked on the impact statement gave a relatively brief overview of the document and fielded questions from the council members.

Staff also said aquatic species could also be impacted. For example, juvenile and small fish like chinook salmon migrating out of the Columbia River could be stranded due to deep-draft vessel wakes. But those impacts could be mitigated by restoring more habitat along the Columbia River and other methods.

The EFSEC council was also told that nighttime construction noise, such as impact pile driving and jet grouting, would be above the nighttime noise threshold and could affect the Fruit Valley neighborhood and the Clark County Jail Work Center.

The study also looks at the possible risk of crude or diesel spills by volume during rail transit, during transfer at the facility and expected spill frequencies by volume during vessel transfer.

The likelihood of a spill somewhere along the supply chain ran a wide spectrum. EFSEC calculated a spill of nine barrels or less during transfer at the dock had the highest annual probability at 1 in 14.

A spill of 50,000 barrels of oil during rail transit was the least likely to occur. That event had an annual probability of 1 in 48,000.

The Final Environmental Impact Statement is an updated version of the Draft Environmental Impact Statement, which was released in November 2015. The documents are required for significant projects under the State Environmental Policy Act.

After the DEIS was released for public comment, about 250,000 people responded. EFSEC staff combed through all of the responses, and found 3,700 were substantive enough to warrant further consideration and response.

The FEIS was released Tuesday night after the meeting. EFSEC also announced that it plans to make its recommendation on the project to Gov. Jay Inslee on Tuesday in Olympia.

Columbian staff writer