Deny oil permits

Westway, a Louisiana-based company, proposed in February of 2013, to build and operate an oil terminal on the shores of Grays Harbor. The City of Hoquiam issued a permit in April of that year without a full environmental and public review. In response to lawsuits, the City of Hoquiam and the Washington Department of Ecology began a thorough review process in April, 2014.

Westway was purchased in 2013 by the private equity company EQT, and has a history of safety violations, and a financial debt “junk bond” rating. The Westway plan would transport large quantities of crude oil by rail, store it in tanks on the shoreline and ship it out of the bay in tanker vessels. The Westway oil terminal at its Hoquiam site would handle about 49,000 barrels of crude oil per day for a total storage capacity of 55.6 million gallons of oil and other chemicals. The planned expansion of existing rail spurs and the addition of two rail lines, would allow for the unloading of 80 rail tank cars at a time.

The Bakken crude that would be transported, stored and shipped out of port is volatile and flammable. Most is transported by rail in hazardous tank cars (DOT-111s), prone to puncture, spills and fires in train accidents. Twenty crude oil train derailments have occurred in North America in recent years. The residents of Grays Harbor, including the Quinault Indian Nation, would be living with the threat of a potential spill or explosion, and those in the towns leading to the storage facility would be breathing the carcinogenic fumes emitted during unloading and storage.

Much of the economy depends on the fishing, seafood and tourism industries which, if an accident occurs contaminating the water, will not recover for decades. If the Westway project proceeds it will place the safety, the region’s economy and the health of the people, land and water in jeopardy.

Over 97 percent of comments to the Department of Ecology Environmental Impact Statement expressed opposition to the Westway proposal. The citizens are asking the City of Hoquiam and the Department of Ecology that the permits are denied to the Westway proposal and that Hoquiam lead the Harbor to a healthier, cleaner and safer future.

Kathy Schaeffer