City of Vancouver opposed to oil terminal plans

Opponents and supporters speak out about the proposed oil terminal in Vancouver

The Port of Vancouver, looking east from Terminal 5 (Courtesy: Port of Vancouver, July 23, 2013)
The Port of Vancouver, looking east from Terminal 5 (Courtesy: Port of Vancouver, July 23, 2013)

VANCOUVER, Wash. (KOIN) — It’s possible that the largest oil-by-rail terminal in North America could be setting up shop at terminal 5 at the Port of Vancouver.

As the adjudication process for the Vancouver Energy Project continues, officials on both sides of the issue are speaking out. They’ve been arguing their case to members of the Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council since late June.

Now the City of Vancouver is saying they don’t want the Tesoro-Savage oil terminal in Vancouver. City Council member Bart Hansen represented the city in a work session on July 13.

Hansen is worried an oil-by-rail incident would have a significant impact on the city.

“This comes down to planes, trains and automobiles,” Hansen said. “There are your automobiles, PDX air traffic comes right through here, we have river traffic and rail traffic there. If there was an accident, transportation would shut down in all types in the region.”

Abbi Russel with the Port of Vancouver said they plan to continue the process with Vancouver Energy to make the terminal happen.

“Crude oil is moving through our communities today,” Russell said. “We’ve done a lot of work with our state and federal legislators to make sure that the safe movement of cargo by rail is a high priority on both levels, federal and state.”

Jared Larrabee with Vancouver Energy said they testified everything is safe for people and the environment.

But the burning crash in Mosier shows those opposed to the terminal just how dangerous oil-by-rail can be.

“This has been going on for 3 years and this has been a 3 year experiment and what we’ve learned is that it isn’t safe,” said Dan Serres of Columbia Riverkeeper. “A terminal that could bring up to 5 rail cars a day just like the one that derailed in Mosier.”

After the Mosier incident, leaders from around the state, including Oregon Governor Kate Brown, Washington Governor Jay Inslee and ODOT, called for a moratorium on oil trains coming through the Columbia River Gorge.

“Now we are taking it up as moving past the moratoriums to say we’ve evaluated this issue long enough,” Hansen said. “Past those 3 moratoriums, we are ready to act. That’s why we are looking at banning oil facilities and refineries in expansion to terminal companies.”

“Vancouver is choosing its future right now,” Serres said. “They’re choosing to move to a waterfront development that is $1.5 billion that will connect its city to the waterfront.”

The City of Vancouver is holding a public hearing on July 18 at 7 p.m. to discuss the issue further.

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