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Monday, October 21, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Washington

Astoria, Ore., opposes proposed Vancouver oil terminal

An oil train crosses Sprague and Division Street in Spokane Tuesday, Mar. 8, 2016, in downtown Spokane. (Jesse Tinsley / The Spokesman-Review)
An oil train crosses Sprague and Division Street in Spokane Tuesday, Mar. 8, 2016, in downtown Spokane. (Jesse Tinsley / The Spokesman-Review)
By Dameon Pesanti Columbian (Vancouver, Wash.)

Astoria, Oregon, has added itself to the list of cities opposed to the Vancouver Energy oil terminal.

On Monday, the city council unanimously passed a resolution that specifically cited the proposed Tesoro Corp. and Savage Cos. terminal as a reason to oppose any proposed oil-by-rail projects along the Columbia River.

“I think the benefits of the terminal project to Astoria definitely don’t outweigh the risks,” City Councilor Zetty Nemlowill said in a story by the Daily Astorian.

The resolution also announced Astoria’s supporting stance with other cities, saying “Spokane, Vancouver, Portland and Seattle, the Columbia River Treaty Tribes, and others have expressed profound concerns and opposition to the (terminal).”

The Daily Astorian also reported that the council plans to submit the resolution to the Washington Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council, which is evaluating the terminal project.

The terminal is proposed to be built at the Port of Vancouver. It would be the largest rail-to-marine oil terminal in the United States, capable of handling 360,000 barrels of oil per day.

Unit trains carrying crude would travel through the Columbia River Gorge, then unload the oil in Vancouver.

The oil would then be pumped into tanks and stored before being transferred to marine vessels that would journey down the Columbia bound for refineries along the West Coast.

The resolution pointed to “a series of North American oil train derailments and spills” including the June 2016 derailment in Mosier, Ore., where roughly 42,000 gallons of oil were spilled.

Astoria’s resolution cited studies by the Washington Department of Ecology that outlined possible impacts of crude oil projects and shipping oil by train and over water and offered risk mitigation recommendations.

It also pointed to a rule on enhanced tank car standards by the U.S. Department of Transportation meant to make shipping oil safer.

In spite of those, the resolution describes “serious concerns” about the safety of shipping crude by rail in light of possible maintenance issues on tracks and equipment, among other things.

“These outstanding deficiencies present unacceptable risk levels for spills of crude oil entering the Columbia River and causing significant damage to its ecosystem,” the resolution reads.

Astoria City Councilor Bruce Jones, a retired commander of U.S. Coast Guard Sector Columbia River, said, “I think they ought to work those kinks out somewhere other than these sensitive environmental areas,” The Daily Astorian reported.

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