WE HAVE ANOTHER OPPORTUNITY TO SPEAK UP ABOUT SAFE SHIPPING IN THE SALISH SEA!
Just north of the proposed Gateway Pacific Coal Terminal is the BP Cherry Point Oil Refinery that processes more than 9 million gallons of crude oil per day. The dock that is used for transporting the refined oil has two wings – the North Wing and the South Wing (see photo). Here is its history:
1971: The two-wing dock is permitted and partially built by ARCO
1996: The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) issues a permit for completing the construction of the North Wing
2000: BP acquires ARCO
2001: The North Wing construction is completed
Both the permit and construction of the North Wing took place without a thorough environmental review to assess the impacts and risks of BP vessel traffic on our waterways.
Thanks to a successful lawsuit by Ocean Advocates, the courts are requiring an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) that analyzes the change in environmental risk between: 1. operating the BP refinery dock with South Wing only; and, 2. operating the dock with both the South and North Wings.
The EIS is also required to evaluate whether the 1996 permit would result in any increase in the volume of crude oil capable of being handled at the BP Cherry Point dock. Any increase would violate Senator Magnuson’s amendment to the Marine Mammal Protection Act. (Click here to read about Magnuson’s “little amendment” and why it is so important to keep this law intact.)
HERE’S WHERE WE COME IN:
Public comments are being accepted for the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) until August 6.
• Please contact our County Council (they represent us) to ask them to submit a comment letter on the BP DEIS that addresses our concerns for Safe Shipping in San Juan County.
• Send in your own comment letter by August 6. Here are two ways to do so:
1. Click here to see the comment letter prepared by the Washington Environmental Council that you can sign and send — or modify and send — today.
2. Submit your comments in writing directly to:
Ms. Olivia Romano
U. S. Army Corps of Engineers
Seattle Regulatory Branch
PO Box 3755
Seattle, Washington 98124-3755
Or via e-mail:
San Juan Islanders For Safe Shipping will be submitting a comment letter to USACE that states:
1. The DEIS must model and analyze the impacts of potential oil spills with varying spill response options and operational timing in Boundary Pass and Haro Strait (as it does for the Strait of Juan de Fuca, Rosario Strait and Georgia Strait). Boundary Pass and Haro Strait are the San Juan County waterways that are furthest from Washington State’s caches of oil spill response equipment and the spill response personnel that would be required in the event of a major oil spill.
2. The DEIS analysis of BP vessel traffic projections and future BP vessel traffic risk in Boundary Pass and Haro Strait appear inaccurate. We ask that this analysis be updated to include the actual vessel numbers for the proposed Gateway Pacific Terminal.
3. The DEIS does not adequately address the 9th Circuit Court’s requirement to answer the following question: “Did the modifications authorized by the permit increase the potential berthing capacity of the terminal for tankers carrying crude oil?”
4. The Magnuson amendment of the Marine Mammal Protection Act would be violated if crude oil received by rail or pipeline is loaded as cargo onto vessels for transport and/or export. The North Wing dock, if utilized for the loading of refined products, could result in an increase in the volume of crude oil capable of being handled at the BP facility by enabling the South Wing dock to load crude received by rail and/or pipeline as cargo onto vessels for transport and/or export. Therefore, we call for a prohibition, at both the South Wing and the North Wing, on the loading of any crude oil products as cargo onto vessels for transport and/or export including Canadian tar/oil sands crude oil (aka bitumen and diluted bitumen).
5. We ask that the DEIS Proposed Action be modified as follows: BP would continue to operate the North and South Wings in their present configuration. The USACE would modify a Department of the Army permit for continued operation and maintenance of the dock, with conditions including prohibiting the use of the North Wing for unloading or loading crude oil and prohibiting the use of the South Wing for loading crude oil received by rail or pipeline (including Canadian tar/oil sands crude oil [aka bitumen and diluted bitumen]).