Monday’s Hoquiam City Council meeting featured community members voicing their opposition to the proposed oil storage and shipping facility at the Port of Grays Harbor.
Questions were asked about zoning laws, which now prohibit the development of such facilities in Hoquiam. The Council noted the more restrictive zoning laws were adopted after Westway started its permit application process and therefore do not apply to the Port oil project.
City Administrator Brian Shay detailed the timeline for the application process. The City is required to post a notice, in this case in the Oct. 13 and Oct. 20 Montesano Vidette, followed by a 30-day period of public comment. Then it’s up to the Shorelines Administrator to either approve or deny the application.
When asked who the Shorelines Administrator was, Shay responded, “That would be me,” adding the city council itself does not have the authority to approve or deny such permits.
That raised questions of accountability among the 30-plus people in attendance. One remarked to Shay, “You don’t even live here,” adding it would be the burden of the residents of Hoquiam to deal with a spill, explosion or some other potential disaster and its aftermath. Shay resides in Montesano.
One commenter cited a May 2016 study by the Sightline Institute that claimed Westway Terminals, the company behind the project, has a history of safety violations, is attempting to circumvent the permitting process and has a “junk bond” financial base. Another called for council members to band together against Westway’s project as a show of good faith and support to the community.