Fisherman pleads with Hoquiam council to say no to oil

Possibility for economic disaster outweighs any benefits of relatively few jobs

I have been asked by several who were in attendance at the Sept. 12 Hoquiam City Council meeting to offer my public comments as a letter to the editor. My comments followed Fawn Sharp’s presentation.

Here are my comments to the mayor and council:

My name is Larry Thevik. I have been a commercial fisher for 45 years. I am the vice president of the Washington Dungeness Crab Fishermen’s association. I am also speaking on behalf of the Westport Charter Boat Association the Washington Troller’s Association and the Coalition of Coastal Fishers. I would like to remind council of the recently released Port of Grays Harbor Economic study that stated 2,300 jobs and $230 million in annual revenue comes from fishing activity in Westport.

Our organizations have consistently and repeatedly offered opposition testimony and comments on the oil terminal projects, including substantial and substantive comments to your Administrator Brain Shay through the DEIS comment period. Our position remains the same. And we support the Quinault request for a “no action” alternative on the permits.

There is overwhelming evidence that the terminals carry huge risk to our existing economies and offer little reward for that risk. The damage from a significant spill, fire or explosion will last decades. There should be no blind eye or deaf ear to the truth of our claims by now. The terminals were simply a bad idea from the start and that becomes more obvious every day.

The State Attorney General Counsel for the Environment recently recommended that the Vancouver Oil Terminal permit application should be denied. The risk to Grays Harbor is every bit as much, perhaps more, than in Vancouver and on the Columbia River. The risk to our shared coastal economy and environment is essentially the same from each area. The AG’s counsel further pointed out that “while the project will provide some jobs to Washington residents as a result of construction and operation those benefits alone do not outweigh the significant risks to Washington residents and the environment.”

The proponents of these projects knowingly or not are systematically placing all of the elements necessary to create one of the worst man-made disasters our harbor and state could suffer. Hardly a more perfect plan to destroy existing jobs and threaten local communities could be drawn. Permitting these projects will seal our fate and those responsible will be leaving a very dark legacy.

The City of Hoquiam cannot deliberate in a political and informational vacuum and must recognize the larger ramifications of its decision. The public, communities across the state, the Washington Council of Firefighters, fishing organizations, the Quinault Nation and other treaty tribes, the state Department of Fish & Wildlife, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, the AG’s office, and the draft environmental impact statement itself point out (that) the risk from a catastrophic failure, whether fire, explosion or spill cannot be mitigated. Under the state Environmental Protection Act, if the risks are significantly adverse and cannot be mitigated the permits can and should be denied. At this stage the only reasonable permitting alternative is the “no action” alternative.

Larry Thevik is a commercial fishermen who lives in Ocean Shores.