Port of Grays Harbor potash facility permit application comment period starts today

Public comment on the re-submitted shorelines permit application for a proposed potash terminal on Port of Grays Harbor property starts today, with a public hearing scheduled in Hoquiam Oct. 24 at 10 a.m. at Hoquiam City Hall.

BHP, one of the largest mining companies on the planet, submitted its revised shorelines permit application with the City of Hoquiam Aug. 6. The city determined the application to be complete Sept. 3, and notice of the application appeared in legal advertisements section of The Vidette newspaper this week.

Also included in the notice is the City of Hoquiam’s determination of non-significance, meaning it was determined by the city and a consulting firm, Anchor Environmental, the project would not have significant adverse environmental impacts and does not require a full Environmental Impact Statement.

The determination includes 26 mitigation measures covering impacts to air, water, earth, wildlife, natural resources, environmental health, historic and cultural preservation and transportation that BHP will implement “to avoid, minimize, or compensate for the severity of the environmental impacts resulting from the proposal.”

The shorelines application to the city was originally filed late last year and a written comment period was slated for Nov. 15-Dec. 17, and a public hearing was set for Dec. 19. After hearing concerns from numerous agencies and groups, BHP withdrew that permit and set about a months-long outreach effort, working with local tribes, agencies and environmental groups to fine-tune its application to address those concerns.

The project

Terminal 3 at the Port of Grays Harbor is one of two sites under consideration by BHP for a potash facility, the other being in Vancouver, B.C. Should Terminal 3 be chosen, initially there would be four million tons of potash coming to the facility annually, with four to five trains and one or two vessels at the facility a week. That would double over time, according to Ken Smith, BHP Manager of Corporate Affairs for Potash. Delivery of potash to the facility would not commence until four years after the Jansen Mine in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada is approved by BHP’s board.

The facility itself would include an 8,500-foot rail loop to accommodate train shipments into the facility that would tie into existing off-site rail facilities, a covered rail car unloading facility, a potash storage building, upland conveyors and a marine terminal including a conveyor, shiploader and mooring dolphins. There would also be support structures like administrative and maintenance buildings, each about 38,000 square feet in size. At full operation the facility would provide 40-50 full time jobs, according to BHP.

Public outreach

Company outreach by BHP continues this month, including a meet and greet at the Jitter House at 617 Simpson Ave. in Hoquiam Sept. 18 from 7:30-8:30 a.m., where anyone can meet with and hear from representatives of BHP to learn more about the potash facility.

BHP will also take part in Greater Grays Harbor Inc.’s monthly business forum lunch at the Rotary Log Pavilion in Aberdeen Sept. 24. Tentative speakers include Trevor Heuer, Senior Manager Studies on the Jansen Outbound Logistics Project in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan; and Ken Smith, Manager Corporate Affairs in Canada.

RSVP’s for the luncheon are requested by Wednesday, Sept. 18; call 360-532-7888 to reserve a spot, or email info@graysharbor.org. The cost is $20 for Greater Grays Harbor members, $25 for non-members, which includes a catered lunch from Aloha Alabama Barbecue.

Documents, comments

Documents are available for review onlin— go to cityofhoquiam.com and hit the “Public Notices” button — or at Hoquiam City Hall at 609 8th St. The documents include a 64-page executive summary posted in July that highlights the information contained in the hundreds of pages included in BHP’s permit application with the City of Hoquiam.

Written comments on the application will be accepted through Oct. 14. Submit comments to Brian Shay, City of Hoquiam, 609 8th Street, Hoquiam, WA 98550, or bshay@cityofhoquiam.com.