The final environmental impact statement for the Westway Crude Oil terminal has been released and the City of Hoquiam will make the decision as to whether it will issue a shoreline substantial development permit.
Whether or not the permit is issued, Hoquiam and its citizens will be financially responsible for defending their decision in court. And if the project does move forward, when the catastrophic incident happens — and it will happen — neither Westway, nor the railroad company, nor the vessel owners will be insured enough to cover the costs of cleanup, or take responsibility for loss of life and property.
The costs will be fall upon Hoquiam and Grays Harbor County and the public. It was the Port of Grays Harbor that approved the initial leases to Westway (and to Imperium and U.S. Development) to build crude oil terminals. The commissioners approved the leases without a thought about the consequences of transporting toxic crude in the estuary or along the Grays Harbor coastline, demonstrating a lack of good judgment. Even after hearing of the explosive nature of Bakken crude and the risk of shipping diluted bitumen, the commissioners express no self-doubt and defend their decision to this day.
Risk yes, responsibility no.
The Port will not bear any of the financial burden on appeal or once an accident occurs. Hoquiam and its citizens will be left holding the financial bag for their inadequate review.
Mary Kaye Riley